When Virtues Become Vices

When Virtues Become Vices

What if all that’s good is also … bad?

What if you’re greatest strengths were also … weaknesses?

What if every yin had a … yang?

Although an oversimplification, there’s some truth in the saying that there are two sides to every coin; even when it comes to our virtues and vices.

And this is relevant and important when it comes to experiencing happiness and living a good life; as this Atlantic article by Rebecca Rashid and Arthur C Brooks outlines…

When the behaviors we thought would make us happy don’t, we’re forced to bridge the gap between where we are and where we want to be. But our happiness goals are often stifled by the disease of addiction—and its complex neurochemical influence on our desires.

A conversation with psychiatrist Anna Lembke helps us understand the gap between the cravings that drive us and the happiness we seek.

This transcript has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Rebecca Rashid: I’m curious about how these things that we’re taught are good habits: How do those things become as harmful as a debilitating addiction or threaten to become that harmful? I’m curious for someone like you—how has workaholism played out in your life?

Arthur Brooks: I’m not immune from anything. And I guess the irony is that I specialize in the science of happiness, and I fall prey to a lot of these things myself.

There’s a lot of vice that we can engage in. Almost everything that we do that’s really good when we push it to the limit, when we pat ourselves on the back, when it becomes a source of pride, when it crowds out love relationships. Virtues can become vices.

Brooks: Today, we want to understand how our expectations of a happy life are complicated by the disease of addiction.

The complexities of addiction and addiction treatment can’t be covered in one episode, but we do want to identify our tendencies towards addictive behaviors and how it affects our well-being.https://f6736496151ab37653644668d9011389.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The realities for those impacted by addiction are wide-ranging, but defining addictions’ effects on our identities, behaviors, and desires, may help us parse out the divide between where we are and where we want to be.

Brooks: Anna Lembke sat down with us to talk about her work treating patients with addiction. Dr. Lembke specializes in dopamine—a chemical in the brain that lies behind desire and plays an important role in our addictive behaviors.

In 2021, Dr. Lembke published the book Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence. She argues that many of our addictions today are not from things we would consider immediately addictive—like drugs and alcohol—but from behaviors that are even thought of as healthy or beneficial: things like exercise and work. Things we thought were virtues. But what you crave and what you want are usually not the same things…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE