There was a time when I was younger that I could be happy. Life was so much simpler then, being a young new life in the world. In a way, it was the innocence of a new life, just starting to get my bearings and opening my mind to new ideas, new concepts and over time I began thinking that something was missing. I was lonely and searching when I smoked my first cigarette, mainly because of a sense of wanting to belong.
Like most, I hacked and wheezed my way through the first cigarette and the next, never noticing the subtle changes happening within my mind. I remember walking down the street, cigarette in hand feeling so powerful but always looking over my shoulder, worried that my parents might see this new thing that I was doing. I justified it and their admonishments about smoking by the fact that they too smoked.
Soon I was living the life of an addict, scared of what I was doing to myself and yet feeling empowered. I felt like I was actually making my life better by performing this one strange act of smoking. It took awhile but over time and without really realizing it, I replaced my happiness with addiction. In fact, somehow my addiction felt like it was the very embodiment of the happiness I had always craved; as if the feeling was a reality, and in a way it was.
I knew nothing of dopamine receptors when I first started smoking. I only knew that smoking equated to a sense of well being within me. I think this is a tipping point for most addictions. The time that we replace our natural happiness with the false happiness of an addiction. Why? Because somehow we believe it feels good to smoke. Somehow, our false sense of happiness is equated to the act of smoking.
And so over time it becomes harder and harder to give up this false sense of happiness. We begin to believe that happiness never existed in our world before we began the action that fuels our addiction and so we decide that we will never quit, no matter what because we fear the same thing we feared when we started. A world that just doesn’t seem that happy.
In reality, I think we forget that natural happiness even existed before we smoked. And so we equate quitting as the end of all happiness. As the single thing that we could do to destroy everything we slowly convinced ourselves mattered. That quitting would transform us into an empty shell, with no purpose to life.
I know this sounds extreme but for me this was true and when I quit I had no idea that I’d have to relearn happiness because I’d used a plant to create it for so long. I had no idea that this plant had modified my thinking through the manipulation of brain chemicals and that over time this manipulation becomes the new normal. I think that’s a part of why it was so hard to even think of quitting, let alone actually do it.
But in the end, after evaluating my priorities I did put out that last cigarette. And you know what? Over time I did relearn that happiness that was there so long ago. I did allow my brain to once again feel happiness without the help of my enemy.
Sure, I was duped. We all are in the beginning but in the end I chose to take a journey and as amazing as it seems to me, I now create my own happiness. You know, the kind that comes from deep within the soul. The kind that can create a belly laugh because I find something funny, even though I no longer stimulate my dopamine sensors artificially.
That’s why I say that our new life is there for the taking. Perhaps the first day we feel true freedom is the day that we can once again find joy in life itself. The day that we can laugh without feeling guilty. The day that we can relax in the comfort of our own thoughts because we know these thoughts are no longer the thoughts of addiction. No, these are the thoughts of happiness for happiness sake and I know that once I felt my own internal happiness return to me that I was never, ever going back!!
Looking forward to hearing of your happiness as well . . . .
ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!