When I think of addiction my mind automatically starts thinking about the negative ones. Drugs, tobacco, alcohol, sometimes food. I forget about the positive addictions.
I recently stumbled across a book called Positive Addiction by William Glasser and I immediately added it to my 52 in 52. The concept of the book outlines how we can become positively addicted to things that foster good will, health, optimism, and various other characteristics that promote more good in our everyday lives. It goes on to talk about how it’s not only possible but also exactly what to do and how to even turn negative addictions into positive ones.
All in all a pretty good read. I just wanted to touch on some key take-aways from it and talk about how we can apply the concepts to achieve positive addictions.
WHAT IS POSITIVE ADDICTION?
Positive addictions have less to do with the actual thing you are addicted to but more to do with the way they make you feel. Positive addictions should make you feel confident, strong, happy, healthy, and grateful. There’s a host of other characteristics as well but I only plan on making this post so long 🙂
Exercise, eating healthy, volunteering, working in a field you are passionate about, art, music, are all things I think we can agree might create a sense of some of those feelings amongst us. Again, it’s not so much the act of participating in them but more so the way they make us feel. You could be addicted to spending time with your kids or other family members if it makes you more confident, happy, healthy, etc…
HOW TO BECOME A POSITIVE ADDICT
Each of us faces challenges everyday. And we’re not invincible to weakness. The key is to choose positive reactions more often than we choose negative ones.
Instead of having a long rough day at work and sitting down in front of the boob-tube and putting back some beers a positive replacement might be a quick walk or jog around the block, some quality time with the kids finger painting, tossing the ball around out back, or participating in something they really love and acting like a bit of a kid yourself for a minute (jumping on the bed anyone???).
Maybe you get a bit stressed out and go to the comfort foods. Brownies, ice cream, pizza, a jar of peanut butter (not that I would know anything about that). A positive addiction might be taking time with the misses or mister and cooking up a healthy alternative for the family. Or even taking one of those comfort foods but putting a “Paleo” spin on it. Like this recipe. Or this one.
WHAT IS A NEGATIVE ADDICTION?
It would be pretty easy to say it’s the opposite qualities of those positive addictions we just discussed but that would make for a pretty sh*tty post and an awfully short one at that. The best way to put it when I think about negative addictions is the decisions we make that do not promote strength, confidence, positive personal growth, and gratefulness mostly due to us believing that we do not have enough strength to make the positive ones.
Going home, sitting down, drinking beers, and eating food that might not be the best for you is easy. There’s not much effort that you have to put forth to accomplish those tasks. But choosing to go for a quick run, taking time to connect with your family or friends, prepare a healthy meal, and maybe even read a book (like this one) takes strength.
It takes courage to turn down co-workers or buddies for happy hour or to go to bed a bit earlier than everyone else because you have a workout to hit in the morning. It takes confidence to order salmon and steamed veggies at a restaurant when everyone else is getting lasagna the size of Texas and cheesecake. And it sure takes a lot of frick’n strength to wake up an realize you’re not living life on your terms and deciding to start doing it today.
DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES?
In the book, William makes a powerful statement that really resonated with me. “It’s hard to admit that we don’t have what it takes so we end up rationalizing it.”
- I don’t have the time to workout.
- I eat really well but my family makes it tough whenever we go out.
- I’d love to start my own business but I’m “pretty happy” doing what I’m doing now.
- I could never learn another language it’s too hard and it would take too long.
- I’m not athletic enough to play _____________ (insert sport).
I think it’s important to admit that we don’t have the strength sometimes. But after we admit it what needs to follow is how the F*CK am I going to get it?!
The first step in that is recognizing the choices we have made, currently make, and most likely will make that have to lead us to a negative addiction, keep us in it, and will lead to more of it or even worse more negative addictions in the future.
After that what needs to happen is addressing the new decisions that can be made NOW (not tomorrow, an hour from now, but right now) that lead to the positive addictions that will promote more happiness, health, confidence, and so forth…
WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS SAY THANKS
Seriously, life gives you discomfort, pain, and displeasure for a reason. It’s telling you that something is WRONG and needs to be fixed immediatley.
When it delivers the message we sometimes develop negative addictions.
- Give up
- Are not strong enough to admit that we don’t have what it takes so we go looking for excuses.
- Hide behind behaviors that validate the excuses.
The most important thing we can do to get out of this cycle is to start acting the way we want to feel. Regardless of whether we believe it or not. Fake it if you have to. But eventually you develop the habit and promote positive addictions.
If you want to feel healthy than imagine how a healthy person would act on a daily basis and do those same things.
- Would a healthy person take the stairs over an elevator?
- Would they prepare meals ahead of time and carry healthy snacks?
- Would they head home a little early to get proper rest for their workout tomorrow?
- Would a healthy person say they don’t have time to workout or create time?
However, it is you want to feel start acting that way and go through this list of questions.
- How would a _________ person act?
- How would a _________ person eat?
- How would a _________ person behave?
- How would a _________ person talk
- How would a _________ person walk?
- How would a _________ person think?
FACE REALITY NOW
Gut check time, evaluate where you are right now.
Is it where you want to be, is it who you want to be, and are you headed in the direction you want to go. You might not necessarily have the first two down yet but if you are headed in the right direction those things will come in time.
Ask yourself if there is anything you are hiding from. What am I scared of? Failing? Ridicule? The idea of finding out that maybe it’s not what you wanted after all? It’s going to be too hard? Take too long?
After you address those questions start practicing. Every day. Take as little as five minutes and build up to an hour or longer if you need to but practice positive addictions.
Choose something easy to start with. If you are looking to be healthier and have not been working out than just start walking.
- If you have been working out but nutrition is out of whack than start there.
- If you want a new career then start looking or start building your own every night when you get home.
What positive addictions can you create for yourself?
Photo credit – Lemons