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    Looking back at the past year sober, one of the biggest challenges was rethinking my definition of being “happy.” I was always trying to change or enhance my mood with alcohol. Now I was going to have to live with myself and accept whatever I was feeling in the moment. Not easy to do, especially since I was prone to depression, anxiety, boredom and lack of motivation. My moods were all over the place, usually negative….. I could feel happy one minute and unhappy the next. I realized my sobriety was going to be extremely difficult if I insisted on being happy – and what constitutes happiness anyway?

    A Course in Miracles says that the ego’s definition of happiness is “more” – it always want more. And it doesn’t matter what it is – more alcohol, more money, more sex, more drama, more attention…… Whatever….. It’s never satisfied. Even when it gets more, the feeling of happiness is only temporary. So we get more and more and more until we realize how futile it is or experience enough pain to stop. Now we’re in a really tough spot: find something else to do the same job, suffer, or find a way to live with ourselves without running in pursuit of something “out there” to fix us. The pain motivates us to say “There must be better way.” Just that willingness to consider another option is all it takes to set things in motion.

    I realized what I wanted is a different kind of happiness, something that doesn’t come and go, depend on things going my way, or getting more more more of something else. Getting sober really brought this to my attention because I knew I was screwed if sobriety depended on me being “happy.” Anything could interfere with that feeling of happiness (and does – every day) You just can’t have happiness when you’re sad, bored, depressed or anxious. They’re two sides of the same coin, and it seemed that is was my luck that it was always landing on the wrong side……

    I started to redefine happiness and what I found was inner peace. I let go of the craving to be happy, to be always looking for a better emotion, or someone to give me self esteem, or whatever need I thought I had at the moment. I started allowing myself to have a bad feeling. I didn’t judge it or invest in it. I just kept reminding myself that it was temporary, that it didn’t need to define whether I was happy or not. It didn’t get rid of the pain right away, but the more I observed it without judgement, the more I was able to look at things without the need to escape or control them. The more I practice this, the more I feel a sense of peace.

    One of the quickest ways I’ve found to connect to that state of inner peace is to let my mind become quiet. It works every time. Without all the thinking/analyzing/worrying, where are the negative emotions going to come from?:lightbulb (Eckhart Tolle describes this so well as some of you know, citing examples of famous scientists, composers, etc who recollect that they “received” their greatest works/ideas when their mind was totally still. To me, this is spirituality – take away the demands of the ego and you discover the wisdom, love and peace that is always there). (Just notice the next time you feel really connected to someone, or having a moment of joy……. it’s usually because you’re not thinking about anything about anything. You’ve suspended the need for happiness, for more…… You’ve allowed yourself to experience a new perspective).

    Sorry this is so long. I probably could have gone on and on! I wanted to share this with others who have the same question I did: “How can I be happy without alcohol?” Maybe it will open a door for someone. Thanks for listening! xoxo :wavey:

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