If you know me, you will know that I often say over and over; whether it is with sobriety, training, or in life in general, that it is never about the finish line, but it is about the process. By falling in love with the process, or surrendering to the journey, it becomes much easier to live one day at a time and to savor each day and the lessons that it presents.
In my early days of sobriety, I was blessed with what we call a pink cloud. The pink cloud is the euphoric feeling of gratitude and new zest for the new found freedom of living a sober life. I would wake up each day without a hangover, my energy felt amazing, and I swore I would never drink again. Within a few months that euphoric feeling had faded as I had to start facing what was underneath my addiction. This is where the real journey began. At times, I remember being confused at why everything wasn't better because I was sober. I wanted to feel good inside, I wanted everything to be "normal". I was chasing the outcome and had not surrendered to the process.
When I say outcome, I mean I wanted the finish line and deep down I wanted nothing to do with how to get there. I wanted my depression and anxiety to be gone. I wanted to have a career. I wanted my marriage to be saved. I wanted to be a triathlete. I wanted to be 20 pounds thinner....and I was miserable.
On page 452 in the Big Book, it states:
"My serenity is inversely proportional to my expectations. The higher my expectations of other people are, the lower is my serenity. I can watch my serenity level rise when I discard my expectations..."
I had to learn the hard way, I could not expect my life to be magically better just because I quit drinking. Drinking was the solution to a lot of underlying problems and the work began when I became aware of this fact. I wanted more than anything for my life to magically get better, but the reality is that sobriety is a life long spiritual journey of getting to know yourself on a very deep level, transforming old habits into new habits, and learning how to move from a self driven to a service driven life.
If my life would have been transformed overnight, just by stopping drinking, I would have missed so many lessons and so much growth in between. Over the years, I have not only learned to accept the process, but I had to learn how to fall in love with it. By doing this, it has totally transformed the quality of my life.
Here are a few things that I have gained from falling in love with the process:
1. Opportunity for Growth
There have been so many hard lessons along the way, and with each lesson came a tremendous amount of growth. By being engaged in the process, it has provided each situation that arose as an opportunity to grow. By choosing to see life through the lens of a growth mindset, I have place myself on a path of constant learning and self discovery. I had to learn how to cope with each situation and by doing this I learned many new skills. I would also reach out for help and any doing this I met many great teachers, helpers, friends, mentors, coaches, etc....I allowed myself to ask for help and by doing this I surrounded myself with so much greatness in my life which helped me to be a better version of myself.
2. Coping with Adversity
The reality is that adversity will come in life, no matter how much you try to run from it and avoid it, it will come. (I had to learn this the hard way). How we cope with adversity is what matters most! By falling the love with the process it leaves space to learn more about yourself and others as the you face challenging situations. While it is really hard to deal with adversity at times, I now view it as a gift to be treasured because of the tremendous amount of growth and learning that comes with it. As I would face adversity, I engaged myself in the day to day, out my work boots on, and got ready to work. Through this process I learned so much about myself and others.
3. Changes perspective on life
By falling in love with the process it has giving me a fresh new perspective on life! In early sobriety, I kept thinking that I needed to get to a certain place in my life to be happy, I.e...I needed a degree to be successful, a place on a podium, hit a certain weight...etc....While it is ok to work hard for goals, it was the mindset that I brought in that was a problem. I was placing my happiness on destinations, instead of embracing the journey to those destinations. By savoring the process, I was able to enjoy the day to day much more fully. I was much more present in my own life because I wasn't trying to get anywhere, rather I would focus on what was right in front of me. By doing this, I learned to love and appreciate the life that I was living and learned a ton about myself along the way.
4. Leaves you open to change
Remaining flexible is really important and when you live your life engaged in the process it leaves space to change directions as needed. Being sober has taught me how to be less rigid and be more flexible and by learning how to love the process it has created more space for change. This mindset has expanded my view in life by allowing myself to engage in a diversity of new activities and meeting new people. I never want to live my life in a box - I always want to challenge myself to grow and explore so much in life.