“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” – Socrates
“The more you eat, the less flavor; the less you eat, the more flavor.” – Chinese proverb
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. I’ve been reading quite a bit of nonsense about how becoming an addict is beyond our control. Sure addiction is an illness or malady rather, but it is a self-created one. Acting like a needy, whiny victim is not an illness beyond our control. It is what we do to desperately maintain our addiction after we’ve turned ourselves into addicts.
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 whined and moaned about in a fit of entitlement. Active addicts and alcoholics are like spoiled children, crying and screaming when we can’t eat candy all day long.
Getting better is not just the process of growing up, but also one of removal and simplification. By removing things, we come to appreciate them more. Less becomes more. I personally find considerable pleasure from almost nothing: a glass of cold water, a hot shower, watching my son or daughter laugh or dance or play, lying down in bed after a long day, looking at the yard after landscaping or some floor after tiling or some bathroom or kitchen after renovating, completing some creative project, swimming in the ocean, closing my eyes and breathing, being still, playing tennis, working out, walking around on a warm, dry day and feeling the breeze on my face.
Earlier today, I sat down on 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. Nothing is ever enough. Not only is this a miserable way to move through life and navigate this world, but it 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.
God, empty me out that I may bask in the simplest of things… teach me to simply be…
Thank you for what you do, Charlie. Your posts help me to stay sane and remember what is true and real, while dealing with the addict in my life. May God bless you for your bravery in speaking the truth and not backing down.