If happiness lies in the ability to enjoy less, than being an addict is the precise opposite of such a condition. So when we get better, we develop the ability to enjoy less. The more we simplify, the greater the pleasure in simple things.
I used to need about five OC 80s, a bag of heroin, a pile of coke, two packs of butts, greasy food, sex, tv, and countless other distractions of the lowest possible quality just to feel moderately okay and make it through the day. That is pathetic. It is sin.
When we get better, we begin to find pleasure in less. We lower the bar, but in a good way. After years of removing drugs and distraction and selfish behavior, we begin to enjoy simple pleasures we once took for granted, all those things we moaned about in a fit of entitlement. Active addicts and alcoholics are like spoiled children, throwing tantrums when they can’t eat candy all day long. I’ve been inundated lately with all sorts of nonsense about how becoming an addict is beyond our control. Sure addiction is a malady, but it is a self-created one. Acting like a needy victim that complains incessantly is not an illness beyond our control. It is what we do to desperately maintain our addiction and our warped construction of self after we’ve turned ourselves into addicts.
Getting better is not just the process of growing up into adults who understand that life on Earth doesn’t involve 24/7 euphoria and does involve work, but also one of removal and simplification. By removing things, we come to appreciate them more. Less becomes more. I find myself experiencing considerable pleasure from almost nothing: a glass of cold water when I’m thirsty, a hot shower, watching my son’s crazy new dance moves, watching my little girl pretend to be a zombie, seeing them both asleep in bed (lol), lying down after a long day, looking at the yard after landscaping or a room after renovating, swimming in the ocean, closing my eyes and breathing, sitting down, playing tennis, the feeling after working out or a warm breeze on my face.
A while back, I sat down in an old beach chair while my son played with sand and a great calm washed over me. I can’t explain it with any specificity or eloquence other than to say that I felt completely happy in that moment. Not a single thought or worry poisoned my mind. Not a shred of discontent could I find anywhere within. Sure it was only momentary, but I would never be able to bask in those simplest of things as an active addict. All addicts do is want, want, want and need, need, need. Not only is that a miserable way to move through life and navigate this world, but is also acts as a repellent to others. “Rather unbecoming” as my old man used to say with his jaw locked up good and tight.
To enjoy less, we must never stop getting better. Go write down all the ways you behave as an addict and the way you were as an addict, and do the exact opposite, everyday, for the rest of your life. Nobody’s a saint, so all we have to do is our best. But that is how we get better… by acting like a normal person and developing the ability to enjoy less.