If you are waiting for the conditions to be right so you can enjoy sobriety, you may be putting off your happiness indefinitely. This is because real contentment is not about getting more stuff or achieving certain goals, it is all about appreciating what you already have. If you are not happy with your current situation, there is a risk that you will carry this sense of lacking with you no matter what your future situation. This problem is not unique to people who have fallen into addiction – it is called ‘scarcity mentality’ and it is a huge problem in the modern world.
Scarcity mentality refers to a sense of lacking that most people these days seem to experience. It involves thoughts such as:
- if only I could afford a better car then I’d be happy
- life would be perfect if I had the job of my dreams
- things will be better for me once I can afford to buy X
- I’ll be happy when I get my weight down to X
- I need to move house to a nicer area and then I’ll be happy.
The idea that something else is needed in order to be happy has been mostly created by clever advertisers over the last century. People are bombarded every day with messages saying they are missing something from their life and that they will feel better once they buy this product or pay for this service. The individual is being constantly told that he or she is not okay at the moment, but if they do this, buy this, or achieve this, then they will be happy.
The problem with the scarcity mentality is that it involves an insatiable hunger that can never be satisfied. There is always going to be new things to buy, new things to achieve, and new services to take advantage of. It is like a kid with a tin can who is always kicking this in front of him – scarcity mentality means that people are always kicking their own happiness into the future.
“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to a job that you need so you can pay for the clothes, the car, and the house that you leave empty all day in order to afford to live in it.”
It is vital that you are able to appreciate your new life away from addiction because this is what gives you the motivation to remain sober. The problem with scarcity mentality is that it creates a sense of dissatisfaction with your current life and the pursuit to be always getting more can leave you feeling exhausted and disappointed. It does not have to be this way. The reality is that you probably already have everything you need in your life to be happy and the only problem is that you just have not been recognising this.
Few people on their deathbeds wish they had bought more stuff. The thing that becomes most important to them is all of the everyday things they had taken for granted previously. You do not have to wait until your last moments on the planet to appreciate what you have right now. If you can become grateful for all that good stuff now, you are always going to have a reason to feel happy. Developing this level of gratitude is a type of skill and one way to do it is to keep a daily gratitude diary, but it is well worth doing because it is the source of real happiness.