Long-term success in dealing with addiction requires more than a focus on pathology and problems. It requires time and attention to building a life worth living, where intimate relationships with people play a crucial role in happiness.
It also necessitates a deepening sense of humanity, empathy for our fellow human beings, a sense of wonder, engaging our creative natural talents, and perseverance to deal with all that life throws our way.
When asked about his addiction, the actor, Robert Downey Jr. said:
Life is 70% maintenance. I think of myself as a shopkeeper or bee keeper. I’m learning the business of building a life. Instead of getting instant gratification by getting high, I push my nose as far into the grindstone as I can. The honey, the reward, is the feeling of well-being, the continuity, the sense that I am walking toward the place I want to go.
Unfortunately, many who struggle with addiction have no idea where they want to go in life, or what they might want to create. If you are an artist or musician creativity comes with the territory, but for the rest of us – the power of creativity can remain illusive.
One reason is that the process of creating is not taught in our educational system, and in fact, Sir Ken Robinson has spoken out strongly on how our current system actually does the opposite (please watch this amazing presentation – you will not be disappointed).
All is not lost…
Recently, I picked-up a book at a bake sale that brilliantly answers the question of what we should create in our life and how to go about making it happen: Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Material World by Craig and Marc Kielburger. These two Canadian brothers reveal through their own journeys how a focus on gratitude, empathy, and creating community leads to a life of happiness and fulfillment beyond any material possessions.
From their personal encounters with Mother Teresa in the slums of Calcutta, to helping those dying of AIDS in Thailand, to creating one of the largest non-profit foundations for children, Free the Children, these guys provide the broad brush strokes for how to create a life more powerful than addiction.
The essence of Me to We is that by helping others we help ourselves find meaning and purpose in life – and we make the world a better place. What I like most about me to we is that it ultimately is about creating nurturing relationships with people – exactly what needs to happen if we are to move beyond addiction.