Alcoholics and addicts are not a happy lot. Perhaps while they were using they had the appearance of happiness. Beneath the smiles and frivolity many of them were using to escape their dissatisfaction with their portion. As their disease progressed there were fewer and fewer instances of merriment. At some point, they used just to fill up that empty hole which had been gnawing away at their insides for the longest time.
They also complained that their unhappiness was circumstantial. If they had a different boss they would have felt more relaxed at work. If they lived in a different apartment or home they would have been more comfortable. If their spouses and children had acted more nicely towards them they would finally have felt some joy in their life. And on and on it went.
In sobriety we learned that our happiness was not dependent on people, places or things. It truly was an inside job. All of the speed bumps life had thrown us in the past continued to be on our daily path; and usually were unavoidable. How we chose to respond to them was very much in our power. We learned about “pausing” when agitated so we would not have a knee jerk reaction to challenges. As we strengthened our connection to a Higher Power we began to accept life from a deeper state of equanimity
Personal Reflection: Do I feel happy, joyous and free today?
It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. It can be very instructive for us to review photographs of ourselves taken when were unaware that a photo was being taken. Carefully examine your facial expression and body language. Attempt to view yourself impartially. What messages are you sending out to the world in that moment? Do you appear to be stressed out, fearful, tense, upset, judgmental, or bored? Or as they say in the language of the program, do you appear to be, happy, joyous and free? There are really two points of import to be examined here. The first is what is your inner world like? Have you taken all the tools of the program and utilized them to create a happier healthier you? If this is not the case, perhaps you need to revisit what you are doing on a daily basis to create greater emotional sobriety.
Let’s assume however that you have been evolving. Then what’s up with that photograph of you? Isn’t it time that you share some of your inner joy, serenity and positivity. Let your outside reflect your inside. You might want to make more eye contact, increase your smile quotient and up your good mornings. Not only will it brighten someone else’s day, it will make a brighter you!
Personal Reflection: Who do I see in those photographs?
While we were using we had all kinds of preconceptions about what the program was like. When we finally walked down those steps into a meeting, we were a bit startled. Many of us were expecting to see a group of old and bitter men who were bemoaning the fact that they couldn’t drink or drug. Instead, we encountered men and women of all ages. More to the point, there was often a lot of laughter and good feelings in the rooms. In particular we sensed that there was a strong bond and sense of camaraderie amount the members. We also noticed that unlike when we were active, people paid attention to their health. In the past many of us had been afraid to go to the doctor because we had great fear about what he would say. We feared being we would be to stop using or that we had already done serious physical damage to ourselves. What really gained our attention was that we were exposed to a group of people in recovery who could live a happy productive life without drugs and alcohol. As we listened to their voices we also came to understand what emotional sobriety meant as well.
Personal Reflection: What do I find attractive about the program?
All of us of course need to fulfill some very basic needs in order to survive. Food clothing and shelter of course immediately come to mind. Beyond that we begin to get into the area of wants. Within that arena, one of the most common mentioned wants is the desire to be happy. Many an alcoholic, drug or food addict were part of this group of seekers of happiness. The problem was that happiness often eluded us. As a result, we often turned to our drug of choice to fill those feelings of emptiness and sadness. We soon learned that not only did happiness continue to escape us, but a whole new set of problems arose. We often tumbled into depression as our lives deteriorated.
In the rooms we quickly heard a different take on happiness. Someone at a meeting would invariably say to us; “You’re a winner today. You didn’t take a drink or a drug. Everything else is gravy”. As timed passed we began to see that we really did have “a lot of gravy” in our lives. We had a boatload of little reasons to be happy. As we readjusted our expectations, that smile on our faces ever widened.
Personal Reflection: Do I need to lower the bar?