Our current understanding of drugs are based on the typical “rat in a cage” experiment. In these experiments we’d put a rat in a cage with two different water bottles. In one bottle there was normal water and in the other the water was mixed with either cocaine or heroin. In all of these experiments the rats always picks the bowl with the drugs in it. The rat will then obsess on this water and in short it will die.
When the results from these experiments were published, mass media created mass hysteria. Our society took action and formed laws and restrictions. We made drugs illegal and decided that we were going to punish addicts, by locking them up.
Bruce Alexander who is a professor of psychology took a closer look at these experiments. He found that the cages that the rats had been in during the experiments were completely empty, except for the two bottles of water. Not a realistic setting if you want to replicate the normal life of a rat.
So professor Alexander decided to change the setting of the experiment. Along with his colleagues he’d build a cage that he called the “Rat Park”. This cage was filled with wonderful things like tin cans, climbing platforms,trays with cheese on them and also other rats so that they could make babies whenever they’d want to.
He created a rats “Dream Life” by giving them access to everything that a rat loves to do. He didn’t lock them up, the cage was huge. So what were the results of this experiment?
It turns out that a rat who lives “A Rats Dream Life” Doesn’t focus on the water bowl with the drugs. He is too busy hiding inside tin cans, exercising in the running wheels and making love with the other rats. His focus will be on living a happy life and the drugs were not that interesting anymore.
This is what I take with me from Alexander’s research. The solution to our problems lies in connection, meaning and purpose. Not in creating better drugs. If you feel bad about an area of your life, it’s because that specific thing is not in line with your own “Dream life”. If your inner compass tells you that something is not good enough, you should try to find ways to change it. When you find yourself in troublesome situations it’s the people that you care about in real life that will help you, not your Facebook friends. Spend more time with the people you love, that’s where you’ll find real connection. Minimize the time you spend on doing things that you don’t like or “have to” do and focus on the things that makes you happy. Study the things that you’re interested in. Become an expert at the things that you love to do. Do these things as often as you can. That’s where you’ll find meaning and purpose.
The chance of you being born is one in 400 trillion. So from now on, be selective with what you spend your time on.
I’ve experimented with looking for my own “Dream Life” for several years now. I digest information from the experts out there and then I implement their routines and habits into my own life. Lately I’ve been saying no to a lot of opportunities. I only say yes to the things that I love to do.
Where has it taken me so far?
I used to live in Sweden. I’m now on a French tropical island outside the coast of Australia called New Caledonia. (It’s possible!)
I’ve stopped smoking. (If I can do it, so can you!)
I’ve lost 12kg through diet changes and exercise. (No sweat!)
I’m making money doing only the things that I love to do. (Great stuff!)
I’m creating my own version of a dream life. (The road of constant improvement!)
At the moment I’m making new friends from all over the world. If you’ve read this far it means that you might be one of those people that I’d want to stay in touch with. I’m looking for people who wants to grow and are looking for change. I don’t have all the answers, that’s why I turn to the experts. The information is already out there, we’re all connected.
If you like these kind of insights you can become part of the e-mail list I’m currently growing. Send me a message on (email@example.com). The newsletter I’m writing is called “Welcome to Insight”. Every now and then I’ll be sending you some of the latest insights that I’ve found. You wont get spammed, I promise!
Welcome to Insight & the road of constant improvement.