Einstein's Corner: Gratification vs. Satisfaction Part II
But the migration from addiction to sobriety, from short-term gratification to long-term satisfaction, assumes some sort of behavior modification en route. Per last week's column: "&Repeating the same behavior with full knowledge of but no real regard for the very real risks involved is a signature characteristic of addiction."
Now consider Freud's definition of insanity -- doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different outcome; indeed, many recovering addicts define and refer to their addictions as forms of insanity.
Think next about Albert Einstein's observation that no problem can be solved by the same thinking that created the problem. Then take a good look around, see how enmeshed we are in the inertia generated by our compulsions to do exactly what Einstein and Freud cautioned against.
Finally, consider the folkloric wisdom of 19th-century ballplayer Wee Willie Keeler, who -- when asked once to explain his Hall of Fame batting prowess -- put things in true perspective and offered something simpler: "Hit 'em where they ain't," he said.
Thus Freud defined the problem, Einstein told us where not to look for solutions, and Wee Willy Keeler offered a working alternative. What more do we need?
Freud's definition of insanity compels us to examine our own behavior. More important, it compels us to set aside the time to do so, the first prerequisite to meaningful change. Further examination reveals the fact that while we are free to behave compulsively, there is nothing whatsoever free about our compulsive behaviors. The ever-escalating spiritual, emotional, physical, financial, and social price tags merely reflect our ever-escalating compulsive behaviors, and we almost always pay up, even if we have to beg, borrow, and steal.
I don't know how Einstein might have interpreted our current fascination with and fealty to ROI, but it doesn't take a genius to understand that the "faster, smarter, better" digital mantra of ROI is self-dissecting and devaluing by definition. Just like an addiction. It promotes a default agenda and status quo utterly committed to and obsessed with the same thinking and behavior that creates the problems -- only faster, smarter, and better next time, every time. Just like an addiction.
A decision to follow Einstein's advice and not look (at least not always) for today's numbers to justify tomorrow's can only set us free to whatever extent we don't look. It can only liberate us to consider alternative -- and perhaps more profitable -- personal and professional behaviors to the extent that we choose not to look. The math is simple: The more time we divert from our obsessions and addictions, the more time we can devote to alternative behaviors that contribute more to our long-term spiritual, emotional, physical, and social satisfaction.
Wee Willie Keeler's Hall of Fame career is testimony to the eloquence of sheer tenacity in the face of overwhelming adversity. But such is the case with all great hitters; they all fail at least two-thirds of the time. It's just that hard. Harder still with advertising and marketing: Nowadays, hitting 'em where they ain't constitutes a real threat to the ROI culture because it advocates risk and ultimately evokes and promotes the immeasurable.
More on the journey from gratification to satisfaction next week. Many thanks in the interim for your gracious time and consideration&
Please note: The Einstein's Corner discussion group at http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/einsteinscorner/ is dedicated to exploring the adverse effects of our addictions to technology and media on the quality of our lives, both at work and at home. Please feel free to drop by and join the discussion.