I get a recurring question so many times…can I be happy without alcohol? And I in fact used to ask myself this question all the time when I first sobered up. The answer is a hell yes. You can and will find happiness in sobriety and I’m going to show you how.
It seriously used to bother me when those who were sober proclaimed that happiness came as a result of abstaining from alcohol. And even more so, that these people had loads of more fun without the help of alcohol.
Well, I can attest to both of those declarations since I’ve been sober over three years now. I’m saying this because if you’re rolling your eyes in perplexity at my own proclamations, I used to be the exact same way.
After all, alcohol makes us more fun! Well, yes and no. It does until it doesn’t.
Alcohol provides the illusion that we need it to have more moxie, confidence, and allure. The only problem is that there is absolutely nothing sexy about not remembering what you did the previous night when you wake up in the morning. You then have to go through your phone to see who you may have texted and/or called only to make your rounds of profusely apologizing for your bad behavior the night before. It becomes a vicious cycle of you needing to drink in order to boost your self-esteem and being more sociable, to it biting you in the ass because you somehow passed the point of no return.
Yeah, we can see how this is playing out…that’s anything but fun. Once the humiliation hangover starts to creep in, it turns into a vow of never doing that again. But, again comes over and over.
So, if that isn’t motivation enough to start bringing the fun and happiness back into your life, then I’ll give you a few more examples.
Find the root cause of your unhappiness– it will help you to find happiness in sobriety
You may think that this is simple and because the answer is so blatantly obvious, you can to skip right over this step. Don’t pass up on this one. The reason I say this is because you’re looking for the root cause here; not scratching the surface area of your lack of happiness. Take a plunge into the source of the unhappiness.
Asking yourself the deeper questions will help you to find the underlying cause of why you aren’t happy.
Let me give you an example. Say your finances aren’t where you want them to be. Why not? Is it because you’re in massive debt that you don’t know how to rebuild from the ground up? If so, what’s preventing you from asking for a raise or even seeking a better paying job? Do you feel a sense of shame, guilt, or embarrassment asking for more?
Here’s another example. Your sobriety; or lack of. You’re clearly unhappy if you keep attempting sobriety but just can’t seem to last more than a certain period of time before you relapse. Why is that? Is it because some part of you feels unworthy of happiness? Some part of you feels you’re not equipped to succeed? The voice in your head telling you that you’re not destined for lasting and true happiness?
Again, those are just a couple of examples to help you get started. You know your situation much better than I do so you’ll know which questions you need to ask yourself based on what areas need a revamping.
To find happiness in sobriety, you need to find hobbies
This may be tricky, especially if drinking is/was your favorite pastime. Or if you equated fun to drinking. When drinking is the same old song and dance, it’s just not fun. It becomes a burden.
Write down everything you like to do other than drinking. You may notice a theme here- often times, what you do for fun is somehow tied into drinking or being drunk. And that’s ok. It’s important to recognize the patterns so you can nip them in the butt.
If you’re feeling brave and courageous, could you try doing one of these activities sober and see how it is? If not- again, that’s ok.
This is about your comfort level but expanding beyond it slowly while also respecting your boundaries and accepting where you are.
Were you able to conquer an activity remaining sober? How did it make you feel? Write it down. Whatever emotion surfaces and comes to mind is ok.
Did you feel nervous and uneasy in the beginning? And as time elapsed, did you start to gain your confidence and empowerment? Were you having fun?
If you weren’t able to or aren’t ready to participate in one of your favorite pastimes as a sober person, maybe it’s time to conjure up new hobbies. The reason is because maybe the lack of hobbies or only doing them when you’re dunk is hindering your growth.
If that’s the case, you have a clean slate to start from. And it’s wonderful because you’re now discovering who you are as a person so creating new hobbies is the added bonus here.
Take a journey in your own mind
Travels don’t have to be dedicated to physical distances. They can be for mental exploration as well. When you take the time out to reflect on your day, your relationships, your life, your expectations, your goals, ambitions, hopes, and desires, you gain a wealth of information about yourself.
When I sobered up over three years ago, I dug so deep within myself and my psyche because it was the first time in my entire life that I was processing emotions as a sober person. It was scary as hell, but so liberating at the same time. I found myself. And that’s why I’m asking you to do the same. To help you find who you are.
Take time to ponder in solitude about who you are. You’ll gain an enormous advantage over your addiction. Reaching for the bottle prevented you from doing the inner work. Now that you’ve said sayonara to the booze, this is when the soul searching begins. Because this is essentially a rebirth, you get to be anything and anyone you desire.
Travel your mind and see who you want to become. What and who do you want to be in one month? Six months? A year?
Romanticize and fantasize about yourself and this massively upgraded version of you. Digging into the crevices of your own mind will bring the darkness to the light, eventually bringing you more fun and happiness.
Ask yourself why you feel you don’t deserve happiness
I briefly covered it in the first question, but this is where you get into the specifics. If you struggle with happiness because it seems to be eluding you, there’s some part of you that feels undeserving and unworthy of it.
Happiness isn’t a destination to be achieved. It is the present state in which to be lived. In other words, happiness starts with right here and right now.
Which means that you can find happiness, especially in sobriety. It’ll be easier now that you’ve got a clear head.
As easy as it may be to look to your situation(s) why you’re not happy, that will only make it worse. It’s an inside job. Your external environment won’t create your bliss.
Only you can do that. That’s right…the dream home, dream job, dream spouse, dream life will not cure any ailment, including your happiness.
Have a look within to see where it’s culminating from. What about your present situation feels robbed? Are you harboring guilt, anger, bitterness, resentment from the past, which is ultimately preventing you from happiness? Anything you need to release?
To find true and lasting happiness in your sobriety journey, you have to ask yourself the questions that are painful. Stick with it. You will find the light.
What are your expectations?
What do you expect out of life?
Your external world?
Write it all down.
Reflect on it. Is what you’re getting in alignment with your expectations?
If you’re consistently not living up to your standards, you can’t possibly be happy. This is probably the easiest thing to see because it’s so obvious, but also the hardest to implement. Boundaries can’t be enacted overnight. It takes a commitment to yourself to not only start, but to consistently maintain.
That friend who always calls you at the worst time and you always tell him/her that you can’t talk- but they absolutely insist they won’t take too much of your time and so you cave only to find three hours have passed since the phone call.
Or the friend who is always late because some ridiculous drama happened to him/her on the way to meet you and they claim you won’t believe what happened to them- but you do because something always happens to them and it pisses you off, but you don’t speak up for fear of hurting their feelings.
But, guess who’s emotions are now being affected? Yours. Well, it’s time to mean what you say and say what you mean.
It’s time to walk the walk.
What are your expectations for yourself? Are you going to keep settling for mediocrity? Or are you going to raise your standards to provide you with what you need; happiness?
And if you don’t know what your expectations are right now in your life, that’s ok. But, you do owe it to yourself to figure it out. Take time to think about it and the answers will come.
The inner work and soul searching will help you to find happiness in sobriety as long as you step up to the plate and take charge of yourself, your life, and ultimately, your happiness. It’s not attained in one evening, but you will get there. You just have to keep asking yourself the introspective questions.
And please remember that in the futile pursuit of happiness, you’re only chasing paper planes. Because happiness isn’t to be sought after- that’s not the goal. The goal is to understand that happiness is here in this moment.
When you come to learn about the underlying foundation of your psyche and what prevents you from attaining bliss, you’ll come to achieve what’s been so elusive to you. It hasn’t been a destination after all. It was all within you and always will be. When that clicks, everything else in your life falls into place. Including finding happiness in sobriety.
If you know of anyone that can benefit from this, please be sure to share it with them.
Until next time…stay zenspired!