Tuesday, 10 July 2018

The Secret to Happiness



Whenever anyone asks me what I most want for my children, my answer is to be happy. And isn't that what we want for ourselves too, above everything else?

Well, I've read several books and countless articles on the secret of happiness, and one thing comes up again and again: Gratitude.

This is particularly important for we addicts, especially those of you who have only recently quit drinking.

The reason we love alcohol so much, the thing that makes us crave it more and more is dopamine. 

Dopamine is the feel-good hormone that is released in the brain whenever we reach for that glass of vino.

When we quit drinking, our brain really misses that dopamine, which is one of the reasons you'll often crave chocolate - sugar releases dopamine too.

But here's the good news: there's a really easy way to get the same dopamine hit, without all the downsides of alcohol like hangovers and self-hatred, and without mainlining cake: Gratitude.

Feeling grateful increases your levels of serotonin too, in exactly the same way Prozac does. It's nature's natural anti-depressant.

I know what you're thinking: that's all well and good, but what if you can't think of anything to be grateful for?

Sometimes life just really is a bit miserable. Everything is going wrong, and the last thing is the world you feel is GRATEFUL.

Well, here's a wonderful trick:

Remember when you wanted what you currently have.

I saw that written on Facebook, or Instagram, or a t-shirt - I can't remember. What I do remember is it getting stuck in my head and having a profound impact on me.

It's so easy to constantly strive for the next thing, always looking ahead and feeling miserable when we can't clear the next hurdle.

The crucial thing is to look back from time to time, and to see how far you've come.

For example, I have (many) days when my children are driving me crazy and I'm just exhausted with it all.

So, now I make myself remember my two early miscarriages, how utterly devastated I was and how all I wanted in the whole world was to be pregnant. I told myself that if my husband and I could have children I would never, ever want for anything else.

I remember when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer and thought I might die pretty soon. The only thing I wanted was to be around for long enough to see my children reach adulthood.

I remember when we bought our first flat, and just a couple of months later there was a fire in the flat two floors above us, and the whole house nearly burnt down. I remember thinking that the only thing that was important was a roof over your head.

If you're struggling with the early months of being sober, remember when the thing you most wanted was to just get through a whole week without a drink.

The truth is that when the s**t hits the fan, we realise that all we really want is the simple things: family, health, a home.

However bad things seem, if you can remember to be grateful for these things, for anything, you will feel happier. The more often you find something to be grateful for, the easier it gets and the happier you feel. Simple.

If you'd like to read more about how to feel happy without booze, then there's a wonderful article from Time Magazine going up on the SoberMummy Facebook page this evening. (If you 'like' the page, Facebook will keep you updated).

For the story of my first year sober, with all its ups and downs, read The Sober Diaries. Click here if you're in the UK, here for USA and here for Australia.

Love to you all!

SM x

20 comments:

  1. Hi Clare, That's such a good thought - it made me remember my brush with breast cancer like you I thought I might die and my daughter was starting her A levels. Well we just attended her graduation and you're right, that feeling of being grateful for what you have is the very best feeling.

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  2. Megan Philippi11 July 2018 at 10:23

    I just finished your book and loved it. Thank you for your honesty. I am 20 days sober and every day is a huge struggle for me, no pink cloud and no sleep either. I recently opened up to my husband's family about my addiction and how I'm going to AA right now. All I can think about is what they really think of me. I don't want to be known as Megan the alcoholic.

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    1. You won’t! You’ll be known as Megan the wise and brave person who faced up to her demons and beat them! I’ve learned that no-one ever judges us as harshly as we judge ourselves. Big love to you xxx

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  3. Thank you. Through life's ups and downs it's always good to be reminded of all that we have to be thankful for. Love Flossie xx

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  4. So true and it’s definitely made me think. My family being happy and healthy and close to me is my number one priority in my life and making lots and lots of memories with them. That’s another fab thing about being sober, you have ALL the lovely memories. No one can take that away. Thanks once again SM, big hugs and lots of love Ange xxx💗

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  5. A strange thing happened today. I was contemplating what to do on a boring afternoon with no motivation to do anything around the house, probably due to the usual bottle of wine I consumed last night. Decided to go into town and an inner voice said “Go to the bookshop” .
    Ok...went and pottered and then saw “The Sober Diaries”. Bought it and am hooked...that is so me! Am seriously thinking about following your example ...won’t be easy so might need a bit of support as the Wine Witch and I have been very pally for many years!

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    1. Go for it Spirit!! The field of bunnies you will read about does exist! The wine witch can be over ridden and splatted ... Check through Clares's blog, she manages to combine good advice with humour, humility and understanding. Like you we have all been on the starting block, I found having some, what to expect advice, really helpful and encouraging. Good Luck :-)

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    2. Yay! So pleased you found me Spirit! You can do this! Hugest hugs xxx

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  6. Thank you SM for getting me to this heavenly field of bunnies with my lovely friend Jacqueline who I met on along the way. It's taken me 100+ days to get here and it's been a long hard journey but every day I am so grateful that I am no longer a slave to the wine witch. I am living life to the full now and things couldn't be better.
    Good luck everyone and big hugs xxx

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    1. Congrats on 100 days!

      Love

      Rob

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    2. Thank you my lovely pal and thank you Clare for saving me and giving me the strength to wake up and well and truly smell the coffee!! I'm now in my seven month AF and I've never felt better in all my life. A HUGE shout to Meggie on her 100 days. You have done AMAZING!!! Love to everyone and heaps of luck. The field of bunnies is the best place ever. Jacqueline xxx

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    3. Thanks Rob and Jacqueline, it means a lot. I hope SM sees our emails soon Jacqueline and can put us in touch xxx

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    4. Hi Meggie! HUGE congrats to you! You are a superhero! And I just mailed you - I’d be delighted to hook you up - what a lovely idea. Biggest hugs 😘😘😘

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  7. Hi everyone and thankyou I've really appreciated reading your book and blog Clare and all the posts from my fellow sober seekers. I am nearly five months sober ( my longest dry spell after trying for 20 years)and I have felt a bit twitchy the last few days,I know it will pass and that gratitude is definately the attitude that keeps me grounded, love to you all xxx

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    1. Keep shaking off that itch! You know it will pass. The regret at caving in after all your efforts would far outweigh the pleasure!!!

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    2. Thankyou you are right and I dont Know whats happened but I am finding the idea of alcohol repulsive The love affair with the booze is truly over its life on lifes terms sometimes tough sometimes amazing mostly same old routine.love to you all xxx

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  8. After reading your book I decided that it was time to give up the booze, everything written just mirrored my life but I knew it deep down. Thank you for encouragement, only one day in but more focused than ever. I’m dreading our social events because that’s when times get difficult for me but this is something I need to do... fantastic book I couldn’t put it down xx

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  9. Good luck Sarah, I hope you are doing ok and perhaps avoid social events early on if need be rather than be miserable. But it is so worth it I promise you! xx

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  10. Good luck Sarah. I am at day 92 and its the best thing I have done. I was also dreading social events and I read lots that said to avoid them. However, I still went and just made excuses not to drink and was amazed to find that I still had a great time. This boosted my confidence further - and was very reassuring. In fact what was nice was although I always looked forward to a night out with a "good drink up" I also spent a lot of time worrying beforehand about whether I would have that bit too much and spoil it for myself (and have resulting shame etc). I now look forward to all my nights out - and if we are going out to eat I can have that dessert that I wouldn't normally have had as I'd have saved the calories for wine! Hope this helps you. Good luck. x

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  11. What lovely advice, go Sarah!!! X

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