10 May Get Obsessed
May 10, 2019
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Why is everyone so sad?
Lately every time I listen to a favorite podcast, it turns out to be an “I’m Depressed” episode.
The host is depressed or the guest is depressed. Somebody’s sad about something.
And these aren’t small podcasts by unknown people. These are multi-millionaires with multi-millions of listeners.
If money and success makes them sad, what hope do the rest of us have?
But then I remember an old quote from an old billionaire.
When asked how he spends his day, the third richest person in the world said that he gets up every day and “tap dances to work.”
I’m not sure you know this, but it’s physically impossible to be sad while you’re tap dancing.
So why is Mr. Buffett so happy? What’s his secret?
He tap dances to work because he can’t wait to get started reading annual reports.
I’m not sure you know this, but annual reports are really boring.
For someone to be excited to read such things, obsession is the only explanation.
But that’s where happiness lives–in obsession.
When I was in grade school, I fell in love with tennis completely by accident.
We had a family outing in Green Bay, WI with old wooden racquets, and I was immediately smitten. I’d played team sports my whole childhood but this was something different.
You mean to tell me all I have to do is beat the person on the other side of the net enough times and I can end up on TV? Can I do this forever?
I started playing all the time, against people sometimes and against walls when people were scarce. My interest was piqued.
But I didn’t know what I was doing, of course, so I had my parents sign me up for some group lessons at the Parks & Rec.
I don’t remember much about the lessons except for this. One day the instructor introduced us to “topspin.”
If you just brush the ball at contact, you can hit harder and hit more in.
So I tried it.
And I’ll never forget that moment. The feeling of the string/ball friction and the visual of the ball dipping down into the court.
For a long time, I thought of nothing else.
I thought about topspin and tennis and rallying and when I could play again. It was glorious.
And I was so happy.
I’m not sure you know this, but it’s physically impossible to be sad when you’re hitting topspin.
As long as you’re obsessed with something, there isn’t any room for depression.
We’re not talking about emotions here, and that’s important.
We’re not talking about becoming obsessed with social media likes or stimulants or hiding in the bushes of your ex’s house.
Those are emotional obsessions that end in sadness.
We’re talking about obsessions that make you better. Like a new forehand or a new company’s balance sheet or a new way to make cinnamon rolls.
There is no cure for a learning obsession. That malady only leads to prolonged happiness.
Obsession equals happiness.
I’m not sure you know this.
My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.