Let me preface this post by saying, I’m an introvert. Believe it or not, it’s true. I’m not shy by any means, but I am an introverted person for sure. I recharge my batteries in the absolute silence of a dark and quiet room. I’m weird like that. Actually, my personality type is INTJ. If that means anything to you at all. I say this because I need more solitude to relax than most people. You may not need this as much as I do, but we all need it.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about the fact that we’re addicted to entertainment, fun, and engaging our brain. It’s true. As a matter of fact, our non-work lives are full of so much entertainment that we don’t really give ourselves a chance to destress at all. Let me tell you what I mean.

we no longer understand why or how to relax

A few weeks back, my good friend Gary told me he’s frustrated with life. He said that every time he sits down to enjoy himself on the weekend, he ends up having something go wrong that pisses him off. Anger issues aside, he was telling the truth. Everything he tried to do from sit down to play video games or go out to eat with some friends ended up introducing some kind of life sucking stress into his day.

The problem wasn’t that he was doing things that were supposed to be fun. The problem was that he wasn’t actually wanting to have fun at all; he actually wanted to destress and relax. He just didn’t know it.

There is a modern cultural roadblock in our minds that causes us to confuse entertainment with relaxation. The truth is, excitement causes stress as well. It’s called eustress. We experience this good kind of stress whenever we have a great time partying out with our friends, or listening to techno at 70mph on a crowded highway. It’s not bad, but it’s not relaxing at all.

it’s all about the variables

I told Gary that his issue wasn’t that he was choosing bad things to do. The issue was that he was choosing the wrong things to accomplish his goal of unwinding, relaxing, and distressing. It’s all about the variables. 

Let’s compare two different activities here. The first activity will be playing video games online with your friends. The second activity would be reclining in your backyard listening to music while you stare at the sky.


One of these activities has an insane amount of potentially negative variables; that’s fancy talk for things that could go wrong. The other activity is fairly straight forward.

If Gary hopped on his computer to play video games with his friends, and the game loaded instantly, his friends were there waiting for him, they won every fight, he got lots of cool loot, he leveled up his character a ton, his friends and him made tons of delightful jokes and conversation while they played, and he didn’t have the urge to pee the entire time, this would be a pretty awesome experience. It would probably help him relax and unwind. Laughter, good times, and constant victory have a way of really putting us in a great mood.

However, that’s not the way life works.

In actuality there’s a lot of crap that can go wrong when you’re trying to play video games with your friends. Trust me, I know.


this is what a real life comparison of possible problems looks like

Playing video games with your friends:

  1. Your internet goes down.
  2. Your friends are late, or don’t show up.
  3. Your internet is slow.
  4. The game is down.
  5. You have to patch the game for an hour before you can play.
  6. Your computer isn’t working right.
  7. You have Comcast. (This is supposed to be a joke, but it’s just so true.)
  8. You get in over your head, and keep dying in the game.
  9. You get frustrated that you’re not finding epic loot along the way.
  10. You have to go to the bathroom to pee, at which time you come back and someone has killed you.
  11. One of your friends is in a bad mood and gets on your nerves the whole time you’re playing.
  12. A recent update to the game changes the game you love for the worse, causing immediate disappointment.

I could go on and on….

The second activity would be reclining in your backyard listening to music while you stare at the sky:

  1. Your phone battery could be dead, meaning you can’t listen to music.
  2. The weather may not agree with your plans. 

That’s it. Without reaching, REALLY far, there’s not much else that could happen to you.

The most relaxing, de-stressing, moments in our lives are those that offer the least opportunities of failure and frustration.

Sure, not everyone plays video games, but the point is still the same. We have a way of using complex scenarios to relax, instead of pursuing moments of simplicity to refresh our minds and souls.

So eliminate the variables when you’re on a mission to relax next time. Keep it simple. A good book, a new album, or a hot bath can go a long way towards truly making you feel refreshed.

Published in health & fitness

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