Positive addictions 🎮

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Shaping a conventionally negative trait (addictive-personality) into a useful one.


In Chasing Flow, I provided an overview of how I think about habits (TL;DR, find what makes the activity feel really good), but I want to keep thinking aloud on this topic.

Healthy obsessions, positive addictions, whatever we want to call them, I think these labels provide a great framework for thinking about habits.

For habits to stick, they should lend themselves towards being at least mildy addictive. They shouldn't feel like a burden to do. On the contrary, it should feel like something is wrong if you skip them for long enough.

And the conditions for something to be mildy addicting don't actually involve the activity as much as you think. The conditions are unique to you, as it involves your brain along with all of the possible ways you could do that activity.

For example, for the last decade I would simply journal in an encrypted disk image on my computer. But it wasn't addicting, so I would procrastinate on writing. Even though I had a history of loving to write. Yet, I only averaged 1-2 entries per year up until 2021.

But in the last year, I've identified two ways to make writing addictive for me:

  1. Writing in a physical journal in-between doodling
    • I used to love doodling up until chaos in adolescence, so weaving doodling into my writing was key
  2. Writing blog posts on this site in-between coding it.

Point 2 is an interesting one to callout, because I'm still in the early stages of writing on this site. But I can already feel how addicting it is.

Writing longer-form content in what feels like a public space on my personal website (where I get to choose and influence the look and feel of how the content is presented) feels surprisingly good. I also like how it feels public (even though no one is here 🤣), because it forces me to take extra time on my drafts before publishing. And each time I sit on the ideas, they come out better-formed. The whole exercise is surprisingly enjoyable, rewarding and flow-inducing, which I think are key ingredients for forming these positive addictions.

So with all of these points in action, I've now filled my day with addicting activities that are good for me. It feels like unlocking a lifehack, because everything is near effortless, just works, and is most importantly fun AF.


Last Updated: Mon Sept 5 2022

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