Most of us live in a word of stress and bills and commitments and bad sleep. I’m not sure about you but I never imagined as a teen that my life would become so predictable, so normal. I was raised in front of the television and if I learned anything it was that life is a series of coca-cola commercials and adrenaline sports. No one on the eighties sitcoms talked about bills and routine and year after year of working with three weeks of holidays.
I don’t have stats to back this up but I have a suspicion that one of the biggest reasons people who are recovering from addictions go “back out” is boredom. The normie world is a dopamine wasteland. Many of those in recovery are also unemployed or often on disability and so they also combat poverty, boredom, and lack of purpose and often hope. Finding fulfillment and contentment is hard to find in any world these days. It’s not just the recovery community that is having a hard time adjusting to the grind and stress of life. More and more of us are asking the big questions – What is the meaning of life? What do I want to spend my life doing? When will I learn to really like myself? Am I grown up yet? How can I find happiness?
Learning to find contentment in life is just that, something you need to learn. The primal brain is hard-wired to remember negative experiences, memories, and patterns. Once in our history is was important to be able to recognize danger before it ate you. The brain learned to survive by remembering the lessons that negative experiences brought. Happy thoughts didn’t keep you from being lunch.
Experts tell us that negative experiences are velcroed to the brain while positive experiences stick like Teflon. It is no wonder, then, that we tend to become negative when we spend too much time thinking about negative things. By way of example ask yourself this question – Have you ever argued yourself into feeling way better about a negative thing? It isn’t natural. Spend any time thinking about the big stressors in your life and eventually you will end up at the worst-case scenario. Finding contentment is, therefore, something that has to be worked for. Without spending time on a regular basis re-evaluating my life and dreams it will be my natural bias to end up a negative old man. As Valdy sang, “Old and tired and bent and bust, grey and wrinkled and you can’t be trusted just a dirty old man.”
I will tell you it is one of my firmest goals that I will not end up a negative old bastard. If I get that way please just float me out on the ice flow. We are only given one short life and I do not want to end up bitter and mean; I want to end up crazy, flirting with younger women.
I tell patients every day that the only way they will be any good for anyone else is if they spend time working on themselves. Self care cannot be optional. How much time do you spend thinking about psychology and art and music. About God and immortality and your need to stop yelling? About dreams and plans and delicious hopes? How much time do you spend reading and writing?
You are definitely worth it.
11 thoughts on “Somehow I Expected More”
Brilliant. My favorite post of yours, Scott. Deeply insightful.
Nothing scared me more than the day I realized I was doing more of the wrong type of moaning and groaning.
Having found contentment and lost it, I can say it isn’t as easy as simply thinking, “I won’t be that way.” You need to be able to acknowledge your feelings, process them, come to some healthy conclusion about experiences…then maybe you can find contentment again.
‘Learning to find contentment in life is just that, something you need to learn.’
Absolutely. And there are so many ways to go wrong in trying to learn to find it. It’s like there should be a ‘Contentment 101’ course.
“How much time do you spend thinking about psychology and art and music. About God and immortality and your need to stop yelling? About dreams and plans and delicious hopes? How much time do you spend reading and writing?” I spend a lot of my time thinking about those things yet it doesn’t feel like enough, I need to DO those things. Yet it often feels like work rules my life, work and stress… I am tired, I am tired of all of it… I do not do well with routine… I need constant progress and change and challenge… I loved being a stay at home mom… and I worked hard at it… and I was good at it… and I was HAPPY… being a single working mother of teenagers, well to be perfectly honest it totally sucks! I love my kids and I want to have the time and energy to nurture them and be for them 100%…
I couldn’t agree more: Somehow I expected more!!!
Flirty – check…….Crazy – Double Check, is it okay to be Crazy enough to crack off big problem solutions while maintaining your inner goof?
Great reminder that life is what we make of it….
Flirty old men are way more fun than cranky ones 😉
Good lord, that’s about ALL I do. I wouldn’t mind a little boredom, frankly. I just happen to suck at it. 😉
A lot, actually. I think it’s my only hope.