I’ve been an aspiring cartoonist my whole life but I am always struggling with making the time for my craft, especially to push it to the next step: getting published. Sometimes I push some daily business aside and actually sit down to draw. I’ve noticed though, when I’ve been away from it for a while, that funny ideas are illusive and when I do dig something up, it feels very contrived.
However, I have observed the phenomenon of ideas flowing in times when I have been drenched in the Comics! I notice my brain starting to think in punchlines! Suddenly every situation I’m in through the day is a gag comic!
I’ve started to see this principle work in other areas of life too. When I’m reading the Bible daily, I’m thinking about the Lord more often. When I’m forcing myself to work out it starts to get just a little bit more easy to make it a part of my routine. This isn’t a magic formula and can be pretty subtle but works even better when you recognize it happening. When you start to build a history in a good habit, the history itself helps to perpetuate the habit.
The Dark Side of the Principle
The unfortunate thing is, this principle works for our bad habits too. Several periods of time in my life I have stepped into the snare of pornography. This vice, more than any other I have been faced with in life, is the stickiest. They say about meth “Not even once” and the same should be said of porn. Without a strong desire to get away from it and lots of accountability, a guy can very quickly become addicted (especially in this day of easy access via high-speed internet and smart phones). Once he’s been looking at it a couple of days, the principle of the more you do it, the more you do it, starts to set in. He starts viewing women more and more as objects and equating them with what he sees in porn (of course, the actresses in the videos are not objects either, but that’s another issue). Its starts off by dumping jet-fuel into an already weak area of a guy’s life and then begins shaping his thinking until it is all-consuming.
So, guys struggling with this affliction, here’s one of many ideas to help us out of the snare. Let’s fill our time with positive things and then let those be the things that consume our minds! Remember when grandma used to say “Idle hands are the devil’s playground”? Well, idle minds are too. Here are some practical ideas/innocent things to pour our time into:
- Spend time in the Word if you haven’t been. Increase your study of the word and/or your prayer time.
- Start, or get back into a hobby. What do you love doing? Shooting? Woodworking? Working on the car? Painting? Reading? Guitar?
- Exercise/Physical activity. Start running or riding a bike or swimming or lifting. I hear over and over about the endorphines released by physical activity. Beside all the physical benefits of exercise, we can begin re-wiring the reward system in our brains.
- Serve. Another principle I stumbled on years ago was that whenever I am investing in someone else, I start to forget my own sorrows/depression/worries etc. Maybe this is something small like helping a neighbor or bigger like serving at a homeless shelter or huge like starting a non-profit or becoming a full-time missionary.
- Invest in your family. I’m quickly finding out that, to be a good father and husband, it takes almost all of my time. When it doesn’t, there is always more I can do. I can dream up ways to wow and romance my wife or just play with my 10 month old and take him off her hands. If you don’t have a wife & kids, you probably have siblings or parents or nieces or nephews, right?
There are probably scores of other things we can do and maybe I will come back and add to this list. But the point is, involve your brain, your time, your hands in something positive to starve those negative things of your brain, time, hands etc.
For more info on the damaging effects of porn check out Fight the New Drug