Happiness, UnhappinessWe don't just need to recover from whatever it is we're addicted to. Our goal, after putting an end to the active addiction, is to identify and remedy the underlying cause. All the effects of these underlying causes can be summed up with one word: Unhappiness.
The Cause of UnhappinessAlways we want to look for the cause. It can't be said enough "If you want to solve a problem, it's a good idea to know what the problem is...". We can't just say, "I'm not happy", and think we've got the whole story. Sure, we may understand that we're not happy. The problem there is all to often the next thought is - I need to do something that makes me happy. That's how the whole thing got started in the first place and it won't end differently until we do different things. So after the initial realization statement - I'm not happy - there needs to be a question asked. That question is "Why?"
Why am I not happy. Joe seems to be happy. Well - why do we suppose Joe is happy? Why is Joe happy? Maybe it's that Joe has never cared about anybody but himself and at the moment everything is going his way. Maybe it's because Joe isn't awake enough to notice the world around him. Someone said, "ignorance is bliss". Do we assume that because we "think" somebody is happy that they really are? Why do we think Joe is happy? What evidence do we have? Did he say he was happy? Does he act like he's happy? What if Joe's a great big liar and a real good actor? In the case with Joe we will want to ask him, "Joe - why are you so happy?". At least then we'll know why Joe thinks he's happy. We might get a look at life through Joe's eyes and get some valuable information. We might decide Joe is a phony.
We still need to examine the "Why" question for ourselves. Why am I not happy? Here is a helpful exercise. Make a "I'd be happy if..." list. Not for posterity or world wide viewing - just a brainstorm list to see what ends up on the page. OK, what did we get? Without looking at the list I'll tell you what I know about you. If you listed anything you associate happiness with things. Out there - things. Are you thinking, "Well, now that I know why I was writing the list - there is no need?". Write it anyway. When we write things on paper we use a different brain process. Things come to us that we wouldn't see in a hundred years of thinking about - things. You could name the list "Things I once thought would make me happy". It's useful to write it. It reveals to us the why. We want those ideas to be viewable. The best view we can get is looking down at a piece of paper. It also insures that the idea can't retreat back into the dusty shelves of the brains library. Most of the information and the resulting ideas that - run us - are for the most part lost to us. We have no way of locating them so we can re examine them. The brain knows where all this stuff is. I'm not sure why we can't just say, "Bring me all we've got on happiness", and have the brain fetch it. I've asked. I've been assigning the brain tasks audibly for a few years. Can't really give you the results. I have no way to tell if what happened is a result of my practice or if what's happened would have happened without it. I mainly do it because I want to be in charge of assigning the roles and goals. I do what I can to dictate my life and my chief opponent is my own brain. But - the brain responds wonderfully to projects. It lives for projects. When we grab a pencil it gets all excited - like a dog when we take the leash from the hat rack. When we say "I'm going to make a "if only list" it starts grabbing boxes from the shelves, sifting through the files and bringing us pertinent items.
This is how we can get to the cause of the happiness/unhappiness question. Once we get to the cause we have decisions to make. Lets say that on your list you write -(1) I'd be happy if: I was king of the moon. What does that tell us? Aside from wanting some power and a place of our own...what does it tell us? It tells us that somewhere in our past we got information that suggested, intentionally or assumed, that in some way associates - achievement, approval, accomplishment, establishing oneself in the social hierarchy etc. - with happiness. There are two cases we can study (a) I am King of the Moon - but I'm still not happy or (b) I'm not the King of the Moon and I'm probably not going to be - and I'm not happy. Coming from the standpoint of the unhappy person we don't need to look at "King of the Moon and Happy as can be". It's irrelevant to our quest. The only thing we need to examine is - where did I get that idea and is it working in my favor. Is it real and - does it work. Do my ideas make for a viable system that stands up to testing? If we're not happy, the answer is no. So you may say, "Well I know that things don't bring happiness...that's not my problem". If that isn't the problem - if we're really aware of this - then what's left is: the unsatisfactory life story.
Unsatisfactory life stories are what we collect inadvertently throughout our lives. We accept a story and we live out our lives accordingly. If we find that - Now - we aren't happy, or our lives aren't what we'd like, we'll most likely find the cause we seek in one of these two areas. There are always cases where people have been intentionally traumatized by other people. These are different from what we're looking at here and have to be addressed accordingly. But for the rest of us, we that just want to be happy, this is, as far as I know, the best place to start.