Feed the Enthusiasm, Part 1

One of the greatest feelings in the world is to become absorbed in some activity for a few minutes, and then realize you’ve been so wrapped up in it, and an hour or more has passed. That forgetfulness of the world and the self is, at minimum, a painless interval, and at most, a rewarding spell in which you’ve actually achieved or learned something. Finding a passion can save a life.

“Smile, when your heart is breaking…”

For some people in show business, the constant access to free drinks and easily available hard drugs is their downfall. But for others, practicing their art can be the thing that makes all the difference to their mental health. Like fly fishing, mechanical dexterity, or learning to play the drums, performance art is a way to satisfy a certain drive.

That drive might be described as the need to escape from an untenable circumstance. Even an amoeba knows to avoid pain. To entertain a room is certainly an improvement over fighting, running away, or other available displacements. Telling jokes to strangers can even help a person maintain their sobriety for decades.

Standup comedians Joe List and Greg Fitzsimmons agree that making a commitment to get up on stage, and then following through, can pull them out of a depressive funk. Stage time is somehow the “fix,” even if neither the comic nor the audience happens to be at the top of their game. Using an evocative and appropriate metaphor, Fitzsimmons says, “Even if you bombed, at least you got the needle into your arm.”

Positive displacement

Musician/comedian Gary Mule Deer was simultaneously addicted to cocaine and gambling for about 20 years. He told interviewer Marc Maron, “When I came out of rehab, I needed a new addiction, and needed to walk off the weight I’d put on… Golf saved my life.” While pursuing that fresh interest and challenging skill, Mule Deer met one of his heroes, the singer Smokey Robinson, who invited him to raise money for charity by participating in celebrity golf tournaments. Consequently, Mule Deer met many other people he held in great esteem, from several fields of endeavor. These friendships helped him to further his career as an entertainer, and granted him a new lease on life.

Full of surprises

Fortunately, a person who is trying to shake a habit may work on the underlying problems through whatever means are available — individual therapy; 12-step programs; spiritual practice; conscientious action plans; vision boards — people are different and they can be helped by different things. But one thing that helps anybody is finding higher-quality, productive, creative, attractive, meaningful displacements that give them a chance to use their skills and competencies, and that bring out the best in them.

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Fitzdog Radio #994,” YouTube.com, 02/15/22
Source: “Episode 1458 Gary Mule Deer,” WTFPod.com, 08/03/23
Image by Chic Bee/CC BY 2.0

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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