Think Right, Act Right

     My recovery is built on the foundation of the truth of cause and effect. I’ve tried, though admittedly without much eloquence, to illuminate this truth in previous posts like Karma or Sartre. I should have just sifted through the endless self-help books on my shelf until I found James Allen, author of, As A Man Thinketh. Needless to say, I have a revised version entitled, As You Think, which I strongly recommend. To drive home the fact that cause & effect is a universal law and crosses all realms of life whether physical, mental or spiritual, we must quote Allen extensively.

From ‘Thought & Character’:
     “What we are was designed and built by our own thoughts in our minds. If we nurture ignorant or evil thoughts, pain will soon follow. If our thoughts are healthy and beneficial, joy will follow us as surely as our shadows follow us on a sunny day. “
     Naturally, an addict’s mind is so demented that while Allen suggests that right thinking begets right action, which is true, we may also simply begin to act right, and our minds will follow, healing and becoming purer. As the mind and body are one, we must be able to rely on some reciprocity. 
     “A man or woman is a growth by law, not a creation by artifice, and such cause-and-effect is as absolute and undeviating in the hidden realm of thought as in the world of visible and material things. A noble and Godlike character is not a thing of favor or chance, but is the natural result of continued effort in right thinking, the effect of long-cherished association with Godlike thoughts.”
     Beautiful. Reminds me of Sartre’s assertion that our ‘existence precedes our essence’ – that we make ourselves who we are (by our thoughts and actions, by the choices we make). We have no one to blame for who and what we’ve become but ourselves. God is there for us if we reach for Him with everything we have and if we work hard. Addicts need to pound this truth into their heads until they can think no other way.
Allen drills it home for us:
     “We are made or unmade by ourselves; in the armory of thought we forge the weapons we use to destroy ourselves, and we also fashion the tools we use to build ourselves heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace… 
     Good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results; bad thoughts and actions can never produce good results…
     Suffering is always the effect of wrong thought in some direction. It is an indication that we are out of harmony with ourselves, with the law of our being.” 
     With addiction, we must often parallel Allen’s thoughts on thought with action, for the addict simply acts without even thinking. If we are doing the wrong thing without a preceding thought, we are off the rails, so to speak. This is why I counter CBT for the addict with ACTION THERAPY – just start doing the right thing, for right action alone will also begin to build us “mansions of joy and strength and peace.”
Quotes from:
As You Think
by James Allen
(revised and updated by Marc Allen)
God, help me to think right, speak right and act right, that I may be in harmony with You and Others…

Privileged Addict Quotes

“Recovery is not a function of time. It is a function of what actions we take and at what frequency we take them.”

“Achieving physical sobriety is not an accomplishment, it is a requirement.”

“Becoming recovered from alcoholism or drug addiction is not an accomplishment, it is our responsibility.”

“Resentments are like acid to the seeing eye. The burn and blind us so we can’t see clearly.”

“We make amends for the object of our amends, not to clear our conscience.”

“When I get out of my own way, what fills the space is God’s will.”

“Why should we reward ourselves with sobriety chips just because we stopped hurting other people?”

“The absence of Self is to the benefit of anyone, addict or non-addict.”

“It’s useless to study or understand the 1st Step intellectually. We must feel powerless in our hearts, our guts, our cells.”

“Alcoholism is not a function of when you drink, it is a function of how you drink.”

“You can turn a non-addict into an addict, but there is no turning an addict back into a non-addict.”  

“If you can’t pray for someone you resent, you aren’t cut out for the Steps.”

“Talking is not a solution.”

“Our problem isn’t really drugs and alcohol, but what happens to us in their absence.”

“Having horrible feelings isn’t a novelty.”

“If we have the capacity for honesty, we have the seed of God within, and we can nourish that seed into a fountain of strength.”

“Drug addicts should be roasted and humbled beyond belief, and then built back together one spiritual brick at a time…

God, please keep me close to You today…
     … Please stay tuned for the release of Privileged Addict Quotes, which will include every quote from Privileged Addict Quotes 1, 2, 3 & 4 as well as both books.

Privileged Addict Quotes 2
Privileged Addict Quotes 3

Relax Into It

     What I once thought would be amazing to achieve is now small. As we grow and succeed, we keep moving the goal posts. That’s how it’s done.

     When I first came home from treatment, fresh off a mind-blowing spiritual experience, flying high on my pink cloud and ready for anything, I was very suddenly smacked by a loud wake-up call. Just checking the plethora of deranged messages on my cell phone was enough to send me over the edge. I felt myself going crazy again as the reality of life and the mess I had to clean up pounded at the gates. Ten minute conversations with creditors, or anybody for that matter, would necessitate a 20-30 minute meditation session all alone in my car just to clear my mind and bring me back to the ground. A job I got the first week home lasted one night. So it was just Steps and foundation building for the first 6 months. But it worked, and I got stronger. In fact, I became recovered.

     Six months later I finally got that first job – cooking in an assisted living senior home. It was menial, 40 hours a week and 13 bucks an hour. I loved it. I ran around the kitchen all day and not a thought entered my mind except if I should make pineapple upside-down cake or not. I chipped away at my debt. I made a deal with the lovely IRS. I finished my undergraduate degree. These were, at the time, big accomplishments.

     After my first year, I began to help others. I engaged in addiction treatment training, sponsorship, professional work, you name it. And at the time, these seemed like great things for me. Running a group every week and working with others all day long was a miracle, something I thought I could and would never do.

     And now that part of my life is a distant memory. Speaking to groups or sponsoring a newbie is not only comfortable, but boring at times. Step work doesn’t lift me up, it simply keeps me from moving backwards. And due to what became an anti-climatic familiarity with the subject of addiction and recovery, I wrote a book and shared all of this nonsense with a wider audience. And then in 2009, I jumped into the market and made some money. Then my wife and I bought a couple buildings and started our own business. Then the dog… and finally, our beautiful boy.

    Three years later, much of the pride of our business accomplishment is already gone, and I’m bored once again. In other words, I’m ready to move onto the next thing. That has been my recipe for success. Conquer one thing at a time. Relax into it for a while. Once you plateau, then you can tackle the next thing, a bigger thing.

     This is my ninth year recovered. I think I’m finally ready to just be myself, to become who I am. I’m ready to do what’s always been inside me, what I was born with, what I was born to do. Probably better not to waste 15 years drinking and using like a pig, but hey, better late than never, and better yet, I wouldn’t have the life I have now without suffering enough to necessitate a spiritual experience.

God, help me to be where I am now, that I may do one thing at a time…