When students spend more money on drugs than on books

Humans are born to be social. We’ve survived and thrived by connecting, sharing, and teaching. Drugs are also social in nature; they’re more fun when shared. It’s only natural that drug use would spread in college, when social connections are at peak importance.

Reading a book is an individual activity. A book is not easily shared, not social, sometimes difficult, and often not fun. Books, in many ways, go against our very nature. You can live a happy life after college without ever picking up a book.

And yet, very often the most successful people have also read the most books:

“In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time — none, zero.” ~ Charles Munger, billionaire investor

“I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.” ~ Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, and the fourth wealthiest person in the world

“I did the reading.” ~ writer David Foster Wallace in response to how he got to be so smart

I just finished reading Kyle Winey’s Hackiversity: The Secrets to Achieving More by Doing Less in College. I wish I had it when I was in college. If you’re in college right now (or will be soon) I’ll send you my copy of the book, for free. Just send me an e-mail and tell me where to ship it: maloneyj@fredonia.edu.

If you don’t respond first, it’s only $10 on Amazon.

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Getting bitched out

This one was new to me when I heard about it.

Girl 1 does something that Girl 2 doesn’t like. Girl 2 is too anxious to confront Girl 1 about it, so she gets her friend, Girl 3, to yell at her in public about it. Girl 1 is now “getting bitched out” by Girl 3.

Girl 3 is mean and ignorant, but she’s not the problem.

Girl 1 is unaware of what she did wrong, so she can’t be the problem either.

Girl 2 is the problem, because she couldn’t cope with the anxiety of actually having to talk to Girl 1.

Is this really the best we can do?

Tinder and Bumble

Dating apps have done us a tremendous service by lowering the barrier to dating. It’s easier than ever to start a conversation online that leads to a more comfortable in-person conversation.

Dating apps have also done us a tremendous disservice in lowering the barrier to dating. Now that conversations can start online, the courage to start a conversation in-person is less relevant than ever. You can avoid it for a lifetime if you’d like.

Online vs. offline isn’t the problem — courage is the problem. More accurately, anxiety is the problem, because you can only be courageous after confronting your anxiety. And in order to confront your anxiety you need to be able to accept it in the first place.

Accepting anxiety is called coping. Mental health therapists working with college students will tell you they’ve seen a huge rise in cases of anxiety over the last decade. They’ve also seen a vast decline in coping skills.

It’s much easier to start dating online because it doesn’t require coping skills. It’s much easier to deal with conflict in a group text because it doesn’t require coping skills. It’s much easier to tweet about your crush than talk to him because it doesn’t require coping skills.

Smartphones aren’t going away. The only solution, for now, is to realize how often you’re using your phone to run away from anxiety. You could be practicing coping skills instead.

Alcohol poisoning

There are three kinds of alcohol poisoning.

The first, and most obvious, is literal alcohol poisoning. A college freshman consumes way too much alcohol and has to spend a night in the hospital. This wake-up call is usually enough for the young person to become a responsible consumer for a lifetime.

The second form of alcohol poisoning is alcoholism. This much more serious form can traumatize children, destroy families, and inflict wounds for generations. It’s also way beyond the scope of a blog post.

The third form of alcohol poisoning is by far the most frequent. It’s the kind that’s avoiding the alarm on Monday morning. It’s the kind that convinces you that ‘fun’ is of supreme importance. It’s the kind that runs from loneliness — the kind that doesn’t want to feel anything at all. The third form of alcohol poisoning is a metaphor: alcohol may or may not actually be involved.

Most of us struggle with the third kind.

[This blog post is a wonderful example of what I’m talking about.]

A simple way to lower body fat

I interviewed one of our top men’s hockey players on Wednesday. In two years he’s gone from 24% body fat to 8% while putting on 20 pounds of muscle. Naturally, I wanted to know how he did it.

“If it runs, swims, or flies, I eat it. If it doesn’t, I don’t,” he said. “Oh, and I eat a lot of greens. That’s it.” (He lifts weights, of course, and it’s worth noting that he didn’t spend any time doing traditional “cardio.”)

No, I did not say it was easy. I said it was simple.

[This blog post I wrote last month about simple carb addiction might be helpful.]

On being loved

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Seniors Courtney Poirier (left) and Rachel Poirier

Courtney Poirier earned her 1,000th dig last night in a volleyball match in Buffalo. You don’t need to know what a dig is, and that she recorded 1,000 of them isn’t important in the long run.

What’s important is her teammates’ reactions to her 1000th dig. Watch this one-minute video of it.

You only get that kind of reaction if you’re loved, and you’re only loved if you’ve given others a lot of love. To do that you need to care about other people, all the time.

Congratulations on your 1,000th dig, Courtney, and thank you for caring.

Falling in love

Match.com allows users a space to list their personal goals. It only makes sense that the most popular is to “Fall in Love.” But let’s be clear: falling in love is not a goal. A goal is something you can plan to achieve. Falling in love isn’t something you plan for, and it’s certainly no achievement.

It’s not anything of this world, which James Hillman described back in 1990:

“. . . the reason you’re with this certain person, this certain lover, is not about love, or at least it’s not about ‘having a good relationship.’ You’re with this person because your soul is hungry for them, your soul is seeking something with or through them, and it will insist on what it wants. It doesn’t care what price YOU pay for that; the ego-driven, agenda-ridden you is not your soul’s priority. The nice thing about getting older is that you learn to pay some prices more gracefully, but the soul doesn’t care. The soul is absolutely merciless — toward you, and toward anybody around you. The soul doesn’t give a damn about human values.”

In 1850 Elizabeth Barrett Browning described her experience of falling in love in her famous poem, “Sonnets from the Portuguese” (number 26). Read closely and you’ll sense the expectation of falling in love, followed by actually falling in love:

“I lived with visions for my company
Instead of men and women, years ago,
And found them gentle mates, nor thought to know
A sweeter music than they played to me.
But soon their trailing purple was not free
Of this world’s dust, their lutes did silent grow,
And I myself grew faint and blind below
Their vanishing eyes. Then thou didst come–to be,
Beloved, what they seemed. Their shining fronts,
Their songs, their splendours (better, yet the same,
As river water hallowed into fonts);
Met in thee, and from out thee overcame
My soul with satisfaction of all wants:
Because God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame.”

How does one plan for such an experience?