Sometimes I need to repeat throughout the day: "stinking thinking leads to drinking, stinking thinking leads to drinking." Relapse starts when we develop a relapse attitude about something.
Today, I knew stinking thinking had started because I kept wondering why something I definitely could not control had to be that way. I was thinking about how my sister was trying to manipulate my senile father out of money. I was thinking about how my daughter was flying on an airplane and whether or not she would be safe. I got out of stinking thinking by consciously saying to myself that my thoughts were not productive. I then substituted the stinking thinking with GRATEFUL THINKING.
Another stinking thought is thinking IF I GET WHAT I WANT I WILL BE HAPPY. Nothing can be further from the truth. I got the Mexican vacation and the children threw up, the plane was delayed, the accommodations were overlooking the dark jungle instead of the sunny beach. I finally passed the bar exam, and then I was confronted with all the stresses of being a lawyer: the angry clients, the demanding partners, the obnoxious judges. Until I was able to practice good spiritual principles during the vacation and while practicing law, I was miserable. Every time I've gotten what I want, it has ended up making me want more or something else. Even if things have worked out, there have been commensurate difficulties along the way. The key to happiness is not getting what I want. It is removing the want and simply doing the next right thing to champion love and good spiritual principles. Working hard toward GOALS that are based on good spiritual principles do not cause the distress that WANTS cause. Goals can lead us in the right direction. Wants lead us to cravings.
Stinking thinking is full of CRAVING and ATTACHMENTS. Craving is an extreme desire to want something to be different. It starts almost unconsciously at the beginning of each day for most of us. For example, I woke up and felt a twinge in my knee and I wanted no twinge in my knee. In other words, I wanted my knee to feel different. I looked in the mirror and did not like my hair. I wanted it to be different. I didn't want to see the emails. I didn't want to get a call that interrupted my writing this message. So craving (wants) cause suffering. The end of suffering is to be grateful and to accept what is (not what I think it should be): to accept that there would be interruptions, to accept that there would be emails, to accept my hairstyle, to accept my twinge in my knee and have perspective that it wasn't worse. So the end of suffering involves the end of craving something to be different. Suffering is also caused by attachments. Attachments cause me to crave for someone else or something to be different. My children, my family...I am attached to them. So if they don't act in accordance with the way I want them to, I suffer. So letting go of attachments by becoming lovingly detached is critical to my serenity. BOTTOM LINE: When serene, I lose my craving to relapse on alcohol, drugs or other addictive behavior.
Happiness is a byproduct of reducing desires and attachments and living according to certain principles throughout the day like no resentment, unselfishness, and helping others. It is amazing how productive, innovative, and joyful my life has become by following these principles while working toward goals. Today I will be careful whenever I say I want something to be different. Instead I will accept and be grateful for what I have. I will not try to change people places and things but change my own attitude towards them. This can be accomplished by remembering that most things that I want to be different are unimportant and that I am fundamentally cared for by a loving force that I can connect to through meditation and concentration. I will remember that wants cause stress and that acceptance causes peace. I will repeat to myself, "STINKING THINKING LEADS TO DRINKING."