Opening the Door to Change

When I was still in the throws of my addictions I only had a faint idea of what I was really doing to myself; the physical, emotional and mental harm I caused, not only to me, but those who cared about me. Part of that is because I spent most of my time seeking out and planning out the next ‘party’ and part of it was because of my ‘buddies’ at the time. I hung around folks who acted like me and thought like me. One of the first ‘suggestions’ I received in recovery was to step away from those people, places and things that were part of my life that I wished to leave behind; close that door and open a new one. Simple enough advice, but why did it take decades to realize it?

In order to change how I was living, I had to change how I was living.

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I replaced my barstool for a chair in a meeting room and changed what I thought about by listening to and reading recovery literature. I started to listen to others in recovery. I started to talk to others about what I was going through. I helped out with cleaning up after the meetings and did some socializing with the new people I was meeting. I got myself an excellent sponsor and I began to study the Twelve Steps of Recovery with him. Over the course of the next six months I changed a great deal. The change was gradual, almost imperceptible to me, but very obvious to those that I hadn’t frightened off in the previous years. I changed my perspective, what I was looking at, and everything changed.

G.I.G.O.: Garbage In: Garbage Out…..or…..GOOD IN: GOOD OUT!

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Every one of us is the direct result of what we put into our bodies, minds and spirit. Western society’s fixation of fast cheap food had pushed obesity to the extreme. You simply can’t have a healthy body if you continue to put unhealthy food into it. Same with the mind. If you want a healthy mind, be aware of what you are putting into it. What are you watching, reading, listening to? Who are your buddies? Where are you spending most of your time? As the saying goes; tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are!

It takes mindfulness, conscious action and a determination to build the life you want to have. I used to put the cart ahead of the horse. I thought that if I had x, y, and z then I would be happy. I have discovered that happiness is the result of living according to my values and principles. Happiness is the realization that I am living right. When I am happy, the x, y and z will come to me, or, more likely, I will discover that I while I may ‘want’ those things, I really don’t ‘need’ them.

Yes, I had to leave my old buddies behind when I came into recovery. I found new ones who honoured my recovery and who helped me along the way. I let the old buddies know where I was and what I was doing and left the door open for them to come through but made it clear that I had no intention of walking back through that door and onto my old barstool. And as long as I continue to pursue new ‘Good’ to put into my body, mind and soul, I know that I will continue to move forward in life.

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The ‘Tim’ of the past is gone.

One of the most profound lessons I had to learn in recovery was that I had to let go of the ‘Tim’ that I knew in order for a new person to emerge. This is a lesson that I repeat daily, asking my Higher Power to ‘relieve me of the bondage of self’: to free me from my ego’s enslavement. If I wish to continue to grow today I must shed the old skin of yesterday and I do that by being mindful and aware of the people, places and things I’m spending my time with. Only by this daily renewal do I continue to move forward in this incredible journey of discovery that is life.

Happiness is My Choice

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” John Lennon

I just finished reading a book called “Happiness is a Choice You Make,” by John Leland. He’s a journalist who followed six elders for a year. Through interviews he gained a great deal of insight into what keeps these people alive in spite of the many challenges of aging. Leland shares what he learned as a result: that happiness is a choice.

When I look outside myself for happiness I will probably never find it. Happiness that is linked to something outside of myself doesn’t last. If I tell myself that I’ll be happy when I get a new car. If only I get to go on that vacation I can be happy. Or when I finally publish that book I will be happy. What happens when the car gets old, the vacation is over or the book stops selling? Sorry to say, you probably won’t find happiness.

What our elders can teach us is that we find happiness when we choose it. In spite of the pain, the losses, the changes and the uncertainty of the future, the wisdom of old age demonstrates that it is up to us. Despite our problems, we can be happy. They don’t have to prevent us from being content right now, in this moment. Happiness is the choice of those who accept what is happening around them and move along through life with a positive attitude. Add a good dose of ‘selective forgetfulness’ and you’ll find a way of life that is pleasant regardless of storms raging around us.

The lesson was to find happiness not in the absence of pain and loss, but in their acceptance.” John Leland

The mind will always be able to find reasons not to be happy. Is dissatisfaction our ‘go-to’ way of thinking? Perhaps that’s how we were raised. No one will deny that inventions and changes have been the result of this dissatisfaction with the way things are. But perhaps I can be accepting of the way things are and still work to change the things I can.

There will always be things that I can focus upon that will bring me down: politics, violence, poverty, weather. However, I can also acknowledge their existence without letting it send me into a depression. So, in spite of these things, I choose to be happy. I choose to focus on the present, the gift of today. Yesterday may not have been so good, but that doesn’t mean that today can’t bring many gifts.

two men holding red heart balloons

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The key to life, as John Lennon said, is happiness. And while the aged many have fewer moments in their future that I do, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed for anyone. It is up to me to use happiness as the key to open the door to a life which is full of happiness, joy and freedom. It’s my choice to make. I choose happiness.

Celebrate EVERYTHING!

I was trolling through the internet, looking for a theme to blog about, when I came across this picture on Facebook:

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It really caught my eye and got me to thinking. Life will always have its ups and down. There will always be things that I absolutely love as well as those things that I would prefer not to happen. I will triumph one day and the next I may want to bury my head in the sand. Regardless of what is happening I can celebrate it.  Acknowledge it and honour it and be grateful for it.

In going over my past with a fine tooth comb I was able to see that the people, the events and the situations of my past have all led me to where I am today.  Those great moments as well as my worst moments all contributed in the making of the “me” I am today. I am a work in progress that will never be perfect or ideal. So whatever is going on around me today is just as important in making the ever evolving “Tim”  as the people, places and things of the past. I can celebrate today’s challenges and successes because they indicate that I am moving, changing, growing. They push me to become a better human being. All I have to do is be willing to take the next step.

You don’t have to have a party to celebrate. Party hats and cakes aren’t necessary. Just a quiet internal moment of gratitude, acknowledgement, and honouring of each moment of time. It’s being mindful of the present. Life is short and changeable. Now is what I have. I can celebrate my screw-ups as well accomplishments.

I live. I learn. I grow. I celebrate!

I am grateful