The subject of “Non-Toxic Stimulation” has been on my brain for a bit now. I remember the subject being brought up a few years ago by my mentor, who passed away a couple of years ago. The best way to describe our relationship was to say that is was very similar to tuesday’s with morrie. One night Dr. Bogen described a friend of his that was in constant search for Non-Toxic Stimulation.
The definition for it is quite simple. Non-Toxic Stimulation is something that excites you but doesn’t kill or harm you. Toxic stimulation is quite easy to define as well. It is something that excites you but could kill you literally or figuratively. Examples of toxic stimulation could be smoking crack, driving a motorcycle down the freeway at 160 mph on your back tire, running with the Bulls in Spain, rock climbing without a rope, or fighting dogs. These are all optional activities that might leave you or others dead, maimed or in jail.
There are equally exciting Non-Toxic forms of stimulation, but they for the most part involve your brain. One form could be taking a class at Big Nerd Ranch and starting a Web 2.0 company. It could be finally teaching yourself higher math because it scares you and make you feel inadequate, but you know you can do it anyway.
The Non-Toxic form of stimulation I am engaging in currently is to teach myself Ruby as a way to practice test driven development. It is too hard to do test driven development in Python as I don’t want to slow down, but in Ruby, which is very similar to Python, I am not tempted to crank out some code as I can’t. It makes it much easier to practice doing TDD with Ruby and then apply that knowledge to Python.