What exactly is it that you live for?
This question bothered me in early recovery, because it made me realize how short-sighted and depraved our culture can be.
“Normal” Isn’t Happy
As I sat and forced myself not to think about alcohol, it occurred to me I know a TON of people who live for activities that allow them to escape from reality.
They hate their jobs, and some of them even resent their friends and significant others. They never seem to descend into full-blown addiction, perhaps lacking the neural wiring for extreme behavior. But it’s not a stretch to say that they live for a broad combination of alcohol and/or drugs, video games, porn, TV shows, sports, and fast food binges.
These aren’t bad people, but we can learn from them. We don’t need to judge them, or even worry about them. Their low-level addictions are too diluted to harm them in the short term. But they waste a lot of time.
Because they never hit any kind of bottom, they never have any kind of life-altering epiphany.
They’re never forced to reevaluate their lives and ask a crucial question: Is my purpose in life simply to endure my various roles in society, and live for the brief escapes?
Happiness Demands A Different Mindset
If you embrace the same mindset as these people, then there really isn’t any reason not to drink.
The fact that you have a condition that turns your one pleasant glass of wine into 10 or 20 is a legitimate tragedy. You really do live in a malevolent universe. You’re not allowed to alter your brain chemistry enough to enjoy artificial highs, which are allegedly fair allowances for your complacence in life.
The opposite of this depressing chain of reasoning is this: Our mission in life is not to swear off endorphin and dopamine surges, but to find how to activate them in ways that make us better – or at least, in ways that don’t tear us down. Alcohol doesn’t have a monopoly on pleasure.
More importantly, we each have a purpose and it’s up to us to figure out what that is. We’re equipped with a mind that allows us to make ourselves who we want to be.
The fulfillment of your purpose is immensely beneficial to others as well as yourself. Becoming really good at your purpose is a noble use of your time on earth. Over time, pleasure in our purpose becomes stronger and more real than toxic alcohol ever could be.
Make Every Moment Count
When I help people in the gym and even outside of it, I feel closer to my purpose.
When I train hard and get a better rush than I ever did from alcohol, I don’t feel guilty for feeling good – I feel closer to my purpose.
When I wake up feeling refreshed and sit down and write 1,000 words for this site, even though my friends and family think it’s just a cute little project, I feel closer to my purpose.
While I don’t know what my ultimate achievement will be in life, I know the difference between activities that bring me closer to it, and those that don’t.
And I know that life is short. There’s much to be done before I die.
Pain Is Proof of Your Character
What brings you closer to your purpose? You don’t need to define it, just start living it.
The inevitable pain you endure along the way will not be wasted, nor will the anxiety that pervades the first year of recovery from alcohol addiction.
Your choice to feel pain is proof of the fact that you won’t allow your life be ruled only by the pursuit of artificial, hedonistic, morally vacuous changes in your own brain chemistry.
Consciously live your truth, instead of submitting to the whims of your primitive brain. Then you will see why your addiction is an opportunity in disguise. Conquer it and beat the hell out of it, but be grateful for it. Happiness will eventually follow.