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I have heard people say that they abuse alcohol and drugs to "dull the pain." In fact, many of these same individuals state that almost everyone they know has a need to "dull the pain" somehow. Question: doesn't life present all of us with pain? At the risk of sounding superficial, we need to stop our "paralysis by analysis," stop searching for "the secret to life," admit that we are all in some sort of pain, and start developing healthy, fulfilling, and productive actions, beliefs, and habits.
Life's Setbacks and Frustrations
There are many disappointments and frustrations in life. Some people deal with these dissatisfactions by gravitating toward the quick fix, the easy way out, and toward the course of least resistance while others face their challenges by refusing to give in, focusing on positive and creative goals, and by rolling up their sleeves and getting to work doing something productive and fulfilling.
Habits, good and bad, and addictions seem to have an inertia or a life of their own. This being the case, if a positive momentum is to be realized, people need to involve themselves in healthy and beneficial habits rather than searching for shortcuts and giving in to harmful addictions.
Harmful vs. Healthy Activities
The vast majority of people are smart enough to know what is harmful and what is beneficial in their lives. People need to surround themselves with good things (healthy eating habits, proper sleep, contact with positive friends and relatives, doing helpful things for others, expressing thankfulness for the things they have) and start eliminating actions and behaviors that they know are negative (staying out until 2 or 3am on work nights, spending money to finance their alcoholism or drug abuse, surrounding themselves with people of questionable character, eating mainly junk food, focusing on partying rather than on self-improvement, etc).
Positive Inertia and Meaning
A healthy or positive habit starts with one action. People need to take this first step so that they can understand how positive behaviors and thoughts feed on one another. It is therefore important for people to quiet their thoughts and honestly ask themselves what they can do to make their lives more fulfilling and more joyful. Once the positives are identified, it then becomes necessary to develop a plan of action, implement it, and stick to it. Setbacks and difficulties will happen. When they do, however, people need to face and overcome their problems rather than making excuses and giving in to their weaknesses and shortcomings.
In many instances, a person who is willing to get motivated and do something positive for someone or for himself is all it takes to cut into and change a negative cycle. Indeed, giving of oneself and helping others often helps a person take his mind off of his own problems and commonly results in a different, more positive perspective. Not only this, but helping others frequently enables a person to discover more healthy and good things about himself than he ever gave himself credit for. Once this happens, a person should not be surprised if he finds more significance and joy in his life than he ever experienced before.
Herein lies the moral of the story: happiness and meaning do not result from addictions and weakness but rather from overcoming one's shortcomings and bad habits and replacing them with healthy, life-affirming actions, beliefs, and habits.