Winning (and Losing)

Daily Meditation #261–11/10/2022

What an amazing day.

First, you woke up feeling well rested.
Then, your buddy asked if you wanted to have breakfast, so you guys grabbed some pancakes at a great restaurant.
Immediately after that, you found out you got not one…not two…but three As in your online exams.
The As will put you in the Dean’s list.
Hitting the gym, you set a new PR on your deadlift.
Later that night, you arrive home to find your spouse prepared a delicious dinner…and more.

It’d be hard to not feel incredible after a day of winning like this. You’d wake up the next day hoping to carry on that streak.

However, what about the opposite?

You had to try to sleep with a baby screaming.
Preparing breakfast, you find the milk has spoiled.
Checking your grades, you failed two exams and got a C- on another.
You’ve received an email from your professor, concerned about your grades.
Going to the gym, you sprain your ankle and now can’t even walk.
That night, you discover your spouse has been sleeping with someone else.

After a day like this, you might consider something drastic. Loss after loss after loss. “How could I possibly make things any worse?”

— — —

Just as a gambler might overstay his welcome after winning $20,000 at blackjack, “playing with ‘house’ money,” so too do we tend to allow our emotions — good or bad — overguide us and overcontrol us.

We are feeling good, so we go on a shopping spree.
We are feeling down, so we go on a bender.

While both of these are behaviors resulting from polar opposite “feelings,” the ultimate result is we likely don’t feel very happy with the outcomes a day or two later. We blew our paycheck in the first, and had a horrible one night stand with the other.

We all have a level of bipolar to us. Mania. Depression.
But we all struggle to see when our emotions are at the extremes.

Working to cultivate self-awareness, we should aim to periodically and randomly audit how we are feeling.

How do I feel right now?
Good? Bad?
What has happened the last few hours?
What have I eaten today?

With increased self-awareness, we can learn to see the signs of our rising tides of mania and depression.
We can’t always control them, but we can begin to learn the environments, diets, and behaviors that trigger them and work to stymie those.

Self-awareness is a superpower.

Do you ever struggle with phases of mania or depression?

Follow for daily philosophical meditations.

These are distillations from my coming book “YouDaimonia: the Ancient Philosophy of Human Flourishing.”

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Lucas A. Davidson

Born and raised a Yooper, I write daily philosophical meditations on Eudaimonia. These are distillations from my book on the topic!