Something interesting I was thinking today. Dedication is something important and usually cheered and looked as a positive force, while obsession is looked as not a good trait. What’s the difference? At which point does one become the other?
To be honest, I don’t have a clear answer. I’m writing this post in the hope that I can at least clarify my own thoughts, because sometimes I worry that my own behavior has shifted from dedication to obsession. I’ll share more in future posts, but for now, here’s the gist: I’ve lost a significant amount of weight over the past two years by cutting out most sugar, eating mostly meat, and walking an average of 20,000 steps per day. Lately, I’ve started to wonder if this level of dedication is veering into obsession territory. So I’m taking some time to reflect.
In my head at least, both of those terms mean more or less the same – intense form of commitment into achieving a specific goal and the difference between those two is the intensity of commitment. The goal was getting in shape and healthy.
I will be the first to admit that this is a personal question, so maybe this will have different answers for different people. If I have to define the difference for me is dedication turns into obsession once it starts negatively affecting other aspects of one’s life. But that’s very hard line to measure. According to Google some of the symptoms that we’ve landed into obsession land are :
Neglecting Other important Areas of my life?
I think it is safe to say that time allocation does negatively affect my life. However on the other hand I think I prioritize all my important areas correctly, as in I fulfill my immediate work tasks, I make time for friends, partner and family, and can actually use some of walking/workouts to have meetups/meetings. I have decent sleep, way better health thanks to actually being in shape. So I am not sure.
Feeling Anxious and stressed?
Do I feel anxious and stressed if I cannot achieve my daily steps? Not really. I’ve had multiple days when I did 2-3k steps due to weather, more important tasks whatever. However I obviously feel a bit worried and try to make the time for it and at this point I’ve turned into a habit and part of my daily routine, so I find the time to do it. But I wouldn’t say I am worried if I miss a day or two.
Inability to take a break?
I think I covered this in the upper section. I am fine with taking breaks, however I still want to accomplish my goals, but if I am tired, sick or the weather is complete garbage, I am not gonna punish myself.
Loss of Perspective?
How am I supposed to tell this. I get decent amount of compliments on both my form and habit from other people but on the other hand I do feel a lot of people thinking of my efforts and habits as “weird” and “too much”. Obviously not something I care as I’ve already reached 2 years+ of doing it, but maybe it’s me losing perspective.
Well, overall I am not sure. For now at least I do feel I am somewhere in the middle of it all and maybe this is something I should change. I’ll consider me worrying about it as a sign, that I should think more about it, but on the other hand It is something I love doing.
Am I missing something?
Please, would love to hear your opinions on this. You can let me know on HackerNews or axython[at]gmail.com .
P.S I really need to set email domains at least for this domain 🙂
I think you are kind of bragging at this point. Both of your questions have relatively easy parameters of answers: i.e. keeping a pattern of healthy behaviors to control weight, clinical definition and manifestation of obsession. Answers: 1. keep up what you are doing, however do listen to your body sometimes and avoid any extreme diets and do your checkups regularly 2. having a habit is not an obsession, clinical obsessions are often intrusive and uncontrolled that leads to significant lost of function (basic function, doing a startup and not having a social life is not considered an obsession as long as you are sleeping and eating). I understand where you come from, being self reflective and intellectually curious have worked in forensic psychiatry, and I went through the whole DSM, and most people can identify from list of symptoms from DSM, however once you see an actual full blown clinical case, you understand that all mental diseases are just part of us, just a very severe manifestation or malfunctioning. Recommended reading for you would be some evolutionary psychology stuff, as it gives more insights to the functioning and mechanism and adaptation of mental processes, instead of just labelling and have a check list.