Sometimes Regrets are Good

I learned many things about myself when I used to go to Alcoholic’s Anonymous and do the Steps, but I didn’t always agree with everything I read in the literature. One of those things was one of the Promises written in the Big Book…”we will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.” Even with thirteen years of continuous sobriety under my belt, I still feel some regret for not being a better father and husband than I was.

I do, however, agree with the last part of that Promise, and I actually use the way I feel to help others. I explain to people that we can use the sadness, and in many cases anger we feel towards ourselves, to help motivate us to be a better person today.

I get emotional at times when speaking about my past, but quite a few people have told me they feel a connection when I cry. You’d be surprised at how many people relate to feelings of sadness and anger for past regrets, and how much better they feel hearing someone talk about it.

Sometimes regrets are good. Especially when they can help us remember we’re no longer who we used to be. I’m not the same person I was in my drinking days and I’m glad I’m able to use the way I feel about my past to help others.

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A Reason for Everything?

When something good happens it’s fairly easy to say there was a reason for it. However, when some random tragedy occurs that doesn’t seem to have any meaning to it, can we possibly say there’s a reason for everything?

When I consider some of the tragic events that take place in people’s lives, and the world, I wonder what meaning any of it could have. However, tragedies aside, I have learned to use unwanted circumstances in my life as a way to grow stronger, and find meaning to why I went through what I did.

Maintaining gratefulness for what’s good in my life during rough times helps, and so does talking to people who have gone through far worse things than us. I’ve met people who lost children and became inspired by their stories. They not only spoke of their tragedy, but how they fought to make sense of it. The end result was that they found a way to survive one of the hardest things a parent can go through, and eventually return to some level of happiness again.   

I don’t pretend to fully understand why some people go through the awful things they do, or why there has to be tragedy in the world at all, but I still try to believe there’s a reason for everything. I remind myself of the good things that happen in our world, and think about all the stories I’ve heard from people who survived horrific events and were able to find meaning to them. Stories that may not prove there’s a reason for everything, but hopefully inspires us all to be more grateful in life and see how our experiences can help others.

Perhaps this is the best way for us to add meaning to our lives, and the events that take place in them. The good things, the bad things, and the things we don’t understand.

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Grateful To Have Met You

It’s hard for me to accept negative events in my life, and I hope I never have to go through any of the tragic, and often traumatic events that some people do. But I’ve met those who have experienced horrific things in their life and made it through them. Some said they actually became stronger because of their ordeal, and gave credit to not being afraid to ask for the help they needed. They also told me they were able to find some level of happiness in their lives again.

Although seeking help can be hard for some people, the choice to be happy can be even harder.  However, the people I mentioned did make a choice, and some said they were also eventually able to feel grateful for the good things in their lives again. I want to thank them because their stories give me hope that if I were to ever experience a tragedy in my life, I too could make it through and perhaps also find happiness again.

I’m certainly grateful to have met these people, and promise to pass their inspirational stories along to others who need to hear them.

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Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect But…

Although I’ve made a lot progress in not doing things that make me feel bad, there are still times when I behave in ways I don’t like myself for.  I realize, however, that I’m not perfect and that these types behavior can actually help me get back on the road to happiness.

For example; without the wrongs I’ve done in the past and the unhappiness they brought, I wouldn’t know how wonderful it feels when I do something good in my life.  Also, without the negative behaviors I sometimes still display, I wouldn’t know how great it feels when I act in more positive and loving ways.

Without the negative we can’t experience the positive, but we can limit the negative by trying to be a better a person than we were before. I do this by practicing love, kindness, understanding, and tolerance toward others, and more importantly, toward myself on days when I’m not being the best me.

I may not be perfect, but when I practice these things as best I can, I feel happier in life and make others happier too.

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Common Bonds

It can be hard for passionate types like myself not to get into a debate when my beliefs are challenged, but when I do, I at least try to understand the other person’s side and find a common bond with them.

I first learned how to do this early in my sobriety when I would hear someone at an AA meeting share something about recovery that I didn’t agree with.  Sometimes they had different spiritual beliefs than me and I simply couldn’t relate to what they were saying, but I was able to realize something very important. They, like me, found a way to stop drinking and find greater happiness in life.

There were actually quite a few times when I had to remind myself at meetings that it didn’t matter if someone’s beliefs were different from mine, I will at least know we shared a common bond strengthened by hope, empathy, mutual respect, and love.

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Our True Self-Worth

Self-esteem is defined as — a confidence in ones own worth or abilities; self-respect.  I’ve found that practicing love, kindness, understanding, and tolerance towards others can help raise our self-esteem, but we also need to practice those things toward ourselves.

There will be times when we fail doing the things I mentioned; it can take time to believe in ourselves. However, if we keep trying to be a better person than we before, we cannot fail to become one.

We will know in our hearts that we’re a good person, and be able to forgive ourselves on the days when we’re not.

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Where Does Happiness Come From?

Whenever I think about the question posed in the title of this post, two answers always come to mind; at least for me. Happiness comes from trying to be a better person than we were before. And from loving ourselves.

Now I admit it took time for me to become a better person than I was before, and I’ll confess that I’m not always the best person I can be. However, I try not to beat myself about it. I know it’s not who I am and not only do I love myself today, but I do so unconditionally—a strong foundation for feeling good ourselves.

How can you not feel good about yourself when you try as best you can to be a more loving person than you were before? And how can you not feel good about yourself if you try to show more kindness toward others than before? Also, how can you not feel good about yourself if you try  to be more understanding of people who behave in ways that upset you, or at least try to practice tolerance towards them?

Being happy was all I ever wanted to be in life, and I found out that by simply practicing love, kindness, understanding, and tolerance towards others and myself, I was able to achieve this. However, what I didn’t know was that it would someday lead to being happy with who I was.

One more thing comes to mind as to where happiness comes from; at least for me. Trying to believe that something created life and the universe for a reason.

Something that gave us the ability to create our own happiness by learning how to be happy with who we are.

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