For all the wrong reasons

Being an adult does not mean doing the right thing. It's also doesn't mean being able to do the wrong thing if you want to. It's not about doing what you want (like we always thought as kids), nor is it about never getting to do what we want (like we think now). Neither the optimistic nor the pessimistic view of adulthood is correct, but they are both equally incomplete.

Adulthood is characterized by having the right and the responsibility to turn one's fantasies into reality.

The types of fantasies that we're all born with come from the Id, concerned with sensory pleasures and expressions of the powers of creation and destruction. But if society, family, and education have done their jobs, some of our fantasies have to do with making the experience of life better not only in the short-term but also in the long-term, and with a wider sphere of influence than just ourselves.

The problem is that the Id-driven system of incentives and rewards remains intact, even if the goals we are pursuing are lofty and superego-ish. If we have the fantasy of, say, getting into shape, or doing some charitable work, it may be the case that only part of our being gains any satisfaction from taking steps toward that goal.

The Id wishes it could derive intangible, attenuated satisfaction from long-term interpersonal good works, but alas it is that part of ourselves that remains in arrested development. (You might even say that that is the true value of our Id: it maintains a conduit back to the infinite drive and energy of our pre-conscious youth.)

To avoid noble deeds becoming the pure eating of vegetables, it is helpful to attach some nominal short-term, tangible incentive to these better angels of our nature. Freakonomics calls (one version of) this "temptation bundling". I call it "Id-nip", puerile little sweet-treats tossed into the Id's cage to keep him quiet while the rest of me goes about the business of trying build a better civilization.

And that's why I'll be participating in Charity Challenge's 2016 Squat Challenge. Between February 1st and April 30th, I will be doing squats in every corner of time and space that I can find, driven by an irrational need for a beautiful little tab that will sit above the challenge badge that says I did 20,000 squats in 90 days. My Id wants that shit so bad that I'm frustrated sitting just here typing instead of getting my quads stronger to be able to do more squats.

The proceeds from my entrance fee will go to help the Green Beret Foundation and Team RWB, arguably the most culturally intelligent and systems-based veteran support organizations. I want them to succeed. We, as a country, need them to succeed.

I could have just cut them check. I could have done that at any time in the past. Similarly, I could always have done as many squats as I wanted, forever. But there is some magic that occurs when Mettle Forger and All Day Ruckoff double-dog dare me to pay for the privilege of annihilating my glutes within a 90-day timebox, and then dangle badges in front of me if I do a good job.

Sometimes being the best possible adult means dirty, double-dealing, underhanded manipulation of yourself. I love that.

Won't you join me?

You can do anything in a monastery

Words and phrases I'll try to use less in 2016