We are always waiting for something.
We’re waiting to be happy. We are waiting for things to be “just right” so that then we can finally “arrive.” But there is no arrival in recovery. This is a journey with no destination, as I’m sure you’ve heard before.
Why are we delaying our gratification when we can be happy right now?
A mindset left over from addiction
I think at least part of this waiting phenomenon is a left over mindset from our days of addiction. The constant obsession and preoccupation with drugs and alcohol was a dominant force in our lives back when we were still using. It was all about “finding ways and means to get more.” We knew how uncomfortable we would become if we ran out of our drug so we constantly obsessed about our supply.
The nature of drug addiction is that we would experience an “ultimate high,” and then end up chasing that same level for the rest of our days or months or years or our lives. We thought to ourselves “If I only had enough drinks or drugs or money, then I would be happy.” Thus we placed impossible conditions on our happiness. Even if we had some money, we knew that we would consume it through our drug and alcohol use and be back to square one. Thus we delayed our happiness and starting living in a fantasy world.
So in recovery, it is natural for many of us to think that happiness is something “out there in the future” that we might be able to obtain some day if we are lucky enough. This illusion is clearly left over from our obsessive days of drinking and drugging and needs to be let go.
Happiness is right now. Eckhart Tolle suggests that happiness can be accessed instantly by simply being mindful and bringing yourself into the present moment. He’s right of course; the way we delay happiness is by moving it into the past or the future.
But you can never be happy in the past or in the future, because those times literally do not exist. You can only be happy when it is right now….and it’s always right now.
Action items- what you can do:
1) Raise your awareness – This is critical for embracing everyday happiness. Be aware of your mind and what your thoughts are doing to try to move “happiness” out of the present moment. Simply be aware of these things and they will start to lose power over you. Watch your mind for these patterns.
2) Be mindful in what you do – Lose yourself deeply in your activities with great focus and concentration and you’ll be happier for it. This different than “zoning out,” instead; it is “finding the zone.” It’s the difference between approaching life apathetically and approaching it with passion and purpose.
Find your passion and work hard at it and you can stop delaying your happiness for the future (which never comes).