I believe we have a misplaced idea about addiction. It’s common thinking that addiction is to something physical – alcohol, drugs, fill in your addiction here ________.
I don’t doubt that there are addictive substances but the more widespread addiction is to an unchangeable ideal. This addiction sits underneath any physical addiction we may have.
Look at two major addictions for evidence – drugs (prescribed or illegal) and alcohol. What are abusers attempting to escape? Pain is the universal answer. A deeper question is: What is causing the pain? The answer is clinging to a seemingly unmovable ideal that there should only be happiness in our lives.
Addicted people have bought into the illusion of sunshine, lollipops and rainbows being the ever-present norm – one they can never reach. No one can.
The Grasshopper reminded us long ago that happiness is not a permanent place of residence when he stated, “If happiness were a town, it would be filled with transients.”
The happiness ideal doesn’t exist and constantly shooting for it will cause us to miss, causing lots of pain that we want to escape from. The addiction is first to the ideal and then to the substance.
Addressing the underlying source of any problem has a much better record of success than addressing only the surface symptoms.
Quoting from a previous blog post: “Everyone feels unhappiness. It’s a state of internal unrest. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t experience unhappiness. That being said, it’s time to claim ownership of our unhappiness instead of pretending we’re renting it from an evil slumlord.”
Quoting Eckhart Tolle: “The truth is that you need to say yes to suffering before you can transcend it.”
We need to say “No” to the elusive ideal and embrace the poetic reality of Longfellow: “Into each life some rain must fall.”
We are addicted to the ideal of happiness and it causes us undue pain.
Also, ask yourself this: How many times are you happy and you don’t notice? I would offer, more than you think. Reminds me of a story . . .
I was in the pet store picking up some stuffed squeaky toys for Snuffy the Black Nosed Beagle. I have this practice of naming any toy I buy for him with an alliterative name like, “Dino the Dinosaur” or “Carla the Cow.” This day I bought him two – a lion and a dog. I began to name them in my head as I was heading to the checkout. They were “Lenny the Lion” and “Denny the Dog” – Lenny and Denny. The cashier asked me why I was smiling. I didn’t realize it. I just thought I was buying toys for the dog; I had no sense how happy that made me until it was pointed out. I suspect we have many moments like that that don’t make it onto our happiness radar.
So, we shoot for eternal happiness that doesn’t exist and often miss feeling happiness when it makes an appearance. Both practices will keep us in pain longer than is necessary, keeping happiness at arm’s length.
Dismantling the ideal of happiness will have us experience more happiness, as will taking the time to notice and feel happiness when it’s present. These are personal interventions that will help lead you away from addiction.
All the best,
JOHN MORGAN COACHING
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