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.