One of the big secrets to overcoming addiction is through gratitude. The question for many is how to cultivate that gratitude.
Think of the chaos and complexity that our everyday life throws at us. There are responsibilities, obligations, jobs, relationships, and all sorts of demands that are placed on us (and that we place on ourselves). Most of us can’t even imagine how to simplify this immense pile of clutter and gain any sort of semblance of peace. But doing so can pay great dividends. It can also increase our level of gratitude.
Thoreau said “Simplify, simplify.” These are wise words for the recovering addict or alcoholic. Think of it as “decluttering” your life. Specifically, the road to simplifying your life might include:
1) Less possessions – getting rid of junk you don’t need
2) More money – through purchasing less stuff you don’t need
3) More free time – by not obsessing over all that “stuff,” not having to deal with it, and not having to work longer hours in order to buy it
4) A Shift in Attitude – to valuing memorable experiences more than physical belongings (many times the experiences are free)
The Benefits of Simplifying Your Life
1) Gratitude – This is huge. Getting rid of the clutter and letting go of some of that consumerism will allow you to enjoy the simple things in life that are free again. Those who live simply have a deeper gratitude for things like a hot bath, watching a perfect sunset, or simply enjoying good company.
2) Opportunity – If your life has been simplified and “decluttered,” you are in a much better position to take advantage of unique opportunities that might present themselves. This might include things like switching locations for a new job offer, or investing money in a business opportunity. If you live simply, you become more flexible at dealing with life. More adaptable. And, you stay positive.
3) Serenity – Less stuff, less problems, less demand on you….more money, more free time. You do the math.
How Simplicity affected my Recovery
When I decided to get clean and sober, my life simplified in a hurry. Here’s what happened all within the same week:
1) I entered a long term treatment program and started living there
2) I abandoned my current job
3) I abandoned my car
4) I abandoned all my drinking and using buddies
5) I didn’t have a phone
6) I started focusing exclusively on my recovery and spiritual growth
I was very lucky and fortunate to have been able to do that. Since then, I have slowly built up layers of complexity–I started back to work, went back to college, got a new car, and so on. But I added these new layers of life very slowly and very carefully, always making sure to never overwhelm myself.
Notice how the simplicity granted me the opportunity to recover. All the chaos and complexity was eliminated from my life. Clean slate.
I understand that most of us are not in a position to reset our lives like that. We can’t just drop our jobs and our friends and go live on a deserted island. However, the idea of simplifying is worth looking at, and we can certainly make progress in this area.
How You Can Simplify Your Own Life
Anyone can take the principles written about here and apply them to their own situation. But here are some suggestions to get you started:
1) Cable Television – try axing it for a few months. You might like. (I currently do not own a television and I’m loving it)
2) Cell Phone – do the unthinkable and kill your cellphone. Hundreds of dollars per year, and how much in saved time?
3) Garage Sale – sell your junk. Throw away what doesn’t sell. Be ruthless. Drop the sentimental crap about saving everything.
4) Working 2 Jobs? – Quit one and stay afloat by tightening up your budget. Practice frugality and drop unnecessary services.
5) Others Demanding of Your Time? – Practice healthy boundaries and create your own personal space for freedom.
Breathe deeply and enjoy the simplicity.
What are some ways that you can simplify your own life?