This post is going to be frank. I’m not going to tiptoe around issues and I’m certainly not going to attempt to sugarcoat shit, hoping to make it more palatable for those who look at finding offense as a sport. I also won’t be offensive for the sake of shock either, which I find equally distasteful.
With recovery from alcoholism and/or drug addiction comes the ability to observe the destruction it causes at arm’s length while we try to help the afflicted recover. It’s like watching a train wreck or a tornado. You can see it coming a mile away but there isn’t a damned thing you can do about it but try to fix the wreckage once it’s gone by. In terms of working with alcoholics, this is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a curse because it’s ugly. It’s a blessing because when we take the knowledge of that ugliness and use it to better ourselves, our lives become better for avoiding the wreck in the first place (or choosing a home outside of tornado alley).
While good genes don’t hurt, the key to remaining young, both at heart and in appearance, as old-fashioned as it may seem, is simple good, clean living. As my hair grays, I get older and I continue to stay sober and fit, I strive only to do the next right thing. Whether it’s diet, exercise or doing what I must to live another day sober, it’s a one day at a time enterprise.
We learn, very early in sobriety, how to look at life one day at a time. The reason for this is simple. When we finally hit bottom (and “hit[ting] bottom” is an apt description) our lives are a mess. We’ve pissed off anyone who matters to us and a veritable trail-load of people who don’t. We immediately set upon a course of action that will clean up that wreckage. At first this is a daunting task, it often seems like an insurmountable pile of shit that we have to shovel away. To keep this simple, if we look at the whole pile all at once we often become disheartened which can easily lead to a relapse in our fragile state. If, on the other hand, we look at just doing the next right thing at any given moment, we find that the pile diminishes before we even know what’s happened. If we continue on this path, eventually life becomes so good we simply can’t understand how it happened. This isn’t a hypothesis, it isn’t chance, it’s a promise. It’s not easy of course, but if we work for it, miracles happen.
So, while the rest of the internet is toiling away looking for the next “raw, organic superfood” to get behind, I’m eating what I’ve always enjoyed, getting my daily exercise and living a good, wonderful, enjoyable life. Of course, it isn’t easy by any stretch, but “ease” is not a prerequisite of “good” when it comes to an enjoyable life.
- Avoid the fracas. Do the Next Right Thing at Any Given Moment. One thing that is certain about human nature is that we, as a whole, don’t like others to be happier than we are. We see friends figuratively stabbing each other in the back, dishonesty and general nastiness. This plays upon both fear and insecurities. On the other hand, if our lives are lived doing the next right thing at any given moment, our side of the proverbial street is clean so we simply don’t have to participate in that mess because we already know we’re doing the best we can with what we’ve got.
- Eat Well and Enjoy Your Food. Moderate portions of food, good balanced meals and limited “snacks” are keys to living a fit, happy life. Try any diet you like, do whatever works to get your BMI down to a level you can be excited about. Once you’re there, eat well without overeating. If you can’t moderate your intake, desperate times, desperate measures. Don’t expect that one day you’ll be able to eat like other people, accept that you cannot. We all have hurdles in life, this one just happens to suck. On the other hand, I can’t have a beer any time the mood strikes me (mainly because the mood strikes me a lot. It is what it is, I don’t spend my life crying over a glass of red wine. I can’t drink it or I create a shambles in a matter of a few weeks.
- To thine own self be true. One of the major keys to my happiness is that I understand one simple concept: Someone else’s opinion of me is none of my business. This cuts two ways, bad and good. The one opinion of me that does matter is mine. I know where my heart is and I surely know what’s in it. As long as I can honestly say that what’s in there is good, if someone else finds me disagreeable in some way, that’s on them. The problem, of course, occurs when what’s in there isn’t good. Honestly assessing myself and what I do is a constant, ongoing practice. I succeed and fail on a daily basis so it’s incredibly important to my happiness to stay on top of things – and if I do fail to find a weakness over a period of time, once I do realize an inequity, I must get on with correcting it now rather than wait on it.
- Get Out and Move. Every day. Period, end of story. No phoning it in (see item 3). Exercise is almost as important as my sobriety. I want to be active when I’m 80 (hell, I want to make it to 80) so there’s no time like the present to make sure I can get there (see item 1).
Wow, this post ended up being a little more than I anticipated when I came up with the title. In any event, all too often I used to look for the easier, softer way to get through life. I did this because I wasn’t able to see (with those young eyes) the benefits associated with good old-fashioned clean living. Let’s face it, being good doesn’t seem like it would be easy…
Imagine my surprise when I found out the easiest, softest way to being happy was to simply live well.