What do you love?

Sometimes I forget to be happy. It’s not that anything’s wrong necessarily. I just forget. I start to focus on the wrong stuff. To veer off course. I am far from alone in this. But, in my sobriety, I’ve discovered that happiness is an inside job, and for me, I’m the only one who can do the work.

I have a theory. Completely unproven but it makes sense to me. The theory is that humans have struggled for existence for so long that we’re really good at looking out for problems. Trying to foresee hazards that may be coming our way, plans of attack, how to react. Things that might happen. In my disease, some part of me was always on guard. I was constantly looking out for the police, looking out for the boss, the wife… looking out for anybody who I had identified as having a great sense of smell, or who was onto me. Don’t get found out. That was my baseline. I think everybody does this to a greater or lesser degree. Looking out for trouble and pitfalls, worrying becomes a hobby, our focus… for me it was an obsession. 

Worry is not preparation. Time spent worrying is time wasted. Worrying about the past, the future… two things that don’t currently exist. Most of the terrible things in my life, the things I really spent time worrying about, have only existed in my head. I have wasted a LOT of time fantasizing about things I don’t want to happen!

Even if I don’t consider how awful my life was before, life is really good now. Not looking back or forward too much makes it even better. In fact, like a friend of mine says, “My life is perfect, as long as I don’t think about it!” Further, if I do look back on where I’ve come from to get here, holy crap! I cannot fathom how I used to live like that! Fearful and small. Addicted, frightened, lonely… miserable. I am so glad I didn’t have what it took to kill myself because that seemed a very reasonable option. My heart goes out to that guy, and those who still suffer as he did, or worse.

I’ve been sober and in recovery for a while now. In reality, I don’t have very many problems, especially not the old problems. Life continues to happen, don’t get me wrong. But I rarely need to be on alert for troubles of my own making, not anymore. Instead of looking out for what’s wrong or what could go wrong and making that my primary focus, I need to ask myself, what do you love? What drives you? What makes life worth living? You know, the good stuff. Pay attention to that.

Acceptance is key. My focus now can be no longer living in the problem, but trying to live in the solution. Right here, right now. That’s all there is. As soon as I remember to do that, my problems become a thing of the past. How can I help? How can I make it better? These are the questions I need to ask, the actions I need to take. Instead of picking at my scabs, worrying over past wrongs or perceived slights, I can improve my situation just by focusing on healing, caring about others. I get better by remembering to love.

So if you find yourself stuck in the problem, real or imagined, future or past, try to take the focus off that. Try to get into the solution. Start by asking yourself what do you love?

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