Your Addiction to “Adding” to the Moment
Today I’m going to do something a little bit different and feature a great blog post by Steve Chandler where he makes the key connection between addiction and “adding to the present moment.”
From his post:
How many people on the subway or waiting at the bus stop are simply NOT OK with just being with the present moment? Look around and the answer is obvious: not many.
(Think mobile phone games. Cigarettes. Biting nails.)
If you pay close attention, the root of addiction is our attempt to *ADD* something to (as Steve puts it) the “crashing boredom of the present moment.”
Addiction of course doesn’t need to come in the extreme form of some drug habit or alcohol abuse – it comes in endless wild varieties in today’s times:
- Have a few minutes to kill? Add by checking your phone.
- Having fun with friends? Add a glass of wine.
- Have a great solid relationship? Add a little flirt on the side.
In other words: addiction is addition.
In other words, the root of addiction is this desire to ADD something to the moment in order for it to be a better, more fulfilling experience.
Addiction as it Relates to Food
Food addiction comes when you make food more than just fuel for your body. Extra snacks. Adding dessert. Discontentment with a normal-sized meal.
Addiction as it Relates to Relationships
Yet another perfect example of this of course is Tiger Woods. Here he was on the top of the world – dominating the golf world, great relationship with his beautiful wife – and he decided to ADD TO IT with multiple extra-martial affairs:
“I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to,” Woods said. “I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn’t have to go far to find them. I was wrong. I was foolish.”
Yet another crash and burn where the cost of his choice to add to his already successful life was STAGGERING: Not only did he divorce a year later, but also sponsors pulled and a December 2009 study estimated the shareholder loss caused by Woods’ affairs to be between $5 – $12 BILLION (yes that’s billion with a “B”).
A Better Way: Subtraction
A key reframe to look at any form of addiction that shows up in our life is to look at the idea of SUBTRACTION.
— Overweight and want to lose pounds? SUBTRACT the sugar and processed foods.
— Feeling lost in life? CUT OUT the endless distractions that numb your senses all day long.
… And here we arrive at a head-on collision with the million dollar question:
Will subtracting and less truly lift me up to a place of happiness and satisfaction? … (in opposed to further dreadful boredom?)
The answer seems to be yes.
Again, as Steve continues:
The famous beat generation author and drug addict William Burroughs killed his wife playing a William Tell game at a drugged-up, drunken party. He was the author of the books Naked Lunch and Junkie. He was actually a brilliant man, and never so brilliant as he was in his later years when he was clean and sober and said that there wasn’t anything, any feeling, any high, that you could get on drugs and alcohol that you couldn’t get without drugs and alcohol.
And that’s because that treasure of good feelings is already in you. The drug (and I always include alcohol as a drug) just breaks down the barriers. It releases what’s already there. It took me awhile, some years clean and sober to find out that he was right. But you can go faster than that. Through meditation and working with others and an ongoing spiritual practice you can find out faster than I did that you can have an even happier life than you did at your best drunken moment.
There it is. Drugs and alcohol don’t contain some kind of magical elixir of pleasure within them – they simply unlock what’s already in you. Spirituality at its core is about finally turning your attention inward, and gaining access to the bliss and treasures that have been there all along.
Your job then becomes the honest and authentic practice of clearing away the blockage, and gaining access to all that good stuff – all of this found and attained through subtraction.
Less does indeed seem to be more.
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You can read Steve Chandler’s full blog post here.