Who is Happy? Advice on Happiness
  Breaking Free Chizuk #1259  
In Today's Issue
Editor’s Note: Thy Will, not mine, be done.
Chizuk: Who Are the Happiest People on Earth?
Daily Dose of Dov: Simcha vs. Pleasure
Attitude & Perspective: Principle 1: Understanding what we are up against
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Editor’s Note
Thy Will, not mine, be done.

Want to make G-d laugh? Tell Him your plans.

(Yiddish proverb)

When we realize that the way our day goes, has been Divinely ordained, we can be happy with any direction it takes. But if we're running on self-will, we then blame ourselves (or the world) for everything that goes "wrong."

So just a little paradigm shift, to realize that everything goes exactly the way it should, can and will make us happy.

Who Are the Happiest People on Earth?
From... "Stories to Live By" Dr. Morris Mandel

A newspaper editor once offered a prize for the best answer to the question, "Who are the happiest people on earth?"

The four winning answers were the following:

1. A mother bathing her baby.

2. A craftsman, or an artist, whistling over a job well done;

3. A doctor who has finished a difficult operation and saved a human life ;

4. A little child building castles in the sand.

Notice that all four people had one thing in common. None of them was engaged in a selfish pursuit of pleasure. Each was absorbed in some task - that seemed important, and that caused him to forget himself.

Daily Dose of Dov
Simcha vs. Pleasure
By Dov

The basis of addictive behavior is "I want to feel good right now". Certainly being be'simcha is a yesod of yiddishkeit (and as AAs say "if you are sad all the time you are not working the steps right"), but nowhere do we see any Torah source saying "if it feels good, do it" - or - "if it is hard or painful, then it avoid it!". Rather, we see things like lefum tzaara agra, etc....
Remember, you and me did all our acting out to "feel good", right? We addict-types obviously have no clue (functionally speaking) about what really makes us happy in life.
Life - and certainly living right - is not all about feeling better right now. It is about being fulfilled; the "feeling good" comes me'meila. But if it's our goal, forget it.

Attitude & Perspective
Principle 1: Understanding what we are up against
Part 2/2

The addiction didn’t appear overnight. We developed the addiction slowly over time, by accustoming ourselves to arouse lust in our minds, whether through viewing inappropriate material or through self-pleasuring and fantasies. And we did this many thousands of times. And every time we did this, yes, every single time, we were blazing neuron pathways in our brain that kept getting stronger and stronger. And today, these pathways are deeply ingrained in our minds.

Also, there are many levels of this addiction. The fewer times we acted out on lust, the less defined the neuron pathways will be in our minds, and hence, the addiction will be at a less advanced stage. This is vital to understand and should serve as a powerful incentive for us to do everything in our power to stop these behaviors now. Because every single time we act out on lust, we are making the addiction worse, and harder to deal with for the long term.

The symptoms of this addiction are twofold. Firstly, we have accustomed our minds to crave the chemical rush that lust gives us, in the same way that an alcoholic craves alcohol. We have often learned to use lust as a drug for self-soothing purposes. We crave to ‘lose ourselves’ in lust to ‘medicate’ our feelings of inadequacy, guilt and depression, or even simply as an escape from the realities of life. The second symptom of the addiction is that stimulation triggers a much stronger arousal for addicts than it does in normal people. We have become hypersensitive to stimulation, to the point that we feel powerless when faced head-on with lust. This is actually a medical/psychological condition that can be tested through scientific devices. In the mind of someone with this condition, the dopaminergic pleasure pathways in the brain are triggered much faster and more intensely than in normal people.

It is important to understand that as an addiction, this is not something we can remove by simply talking ourselves out of it. A therapist may be able to help us discover why we became addicted in the first place, but that alone is not enough. Now that we have these pathways engrained in our minds, all the understanding in the world won't change the fact that we have this problem, in the same way that understanding a broken leg won't heal it. It is also important to understand that once the addiction has advanced to a certain level, it will likely be there for life, as the saying goes: “Once an addict, always an addict.” What that means is that once we have trained our minds to use lust as a type of drug, we must learn to keep far away from lust. And no matter how much progress we might think we’ve made in this struggle, once we let ourselves take that first “drink”, we will feel powerless all over again. In the 12-Step literature, the addiction is compared to an allergy. If someone has an allergic reaction to peanuts for example, they can’t get close to them without getting an allergic reaction. And even if they haven’t had peanuts in 20 years, the moment they ingest peanuts again the allergic reaction will return in full force!

As one of the 12-Step pamphlets says:

Lusting, for us, is like riding a roller coaster. Once started, it is nearly impossible to stop. Therefore, lust must be stopped where it begins, with the first drink. Getting out from under the influence of lust, therefore, requires us to avoid getting on board in the first place.

Our addiction to lust is like the alcoholic’s problem with alcohol. Just as the alcoholic cannot tolerate one drink of alcohol, we cannot tolerate even the smallest drink of lust. Lust always leads to more lust, eventually making us drunk with it. Once drunk, the urge to act out is impossible to resist. Just a little lusting simply doesn’t work for us.

But as scary as all this may seem, it is not really so bad. Someone who has a chronic iron deficiency can still lead a perfectly normal life, as long as they take his daily iron pill. Someone who has diabetes can also be fine, as long as they take their insulin. So too with us; we may have a type of disease but there are many techniques that can be used as our “medication" every day, to keep the addiction in check.

Instead of the standard Teshuvah model, we need to begin to change our entire attitude. We learn the tools and techniques of how to sidestep the lust instead of trying to fight it head on. And we learn how to give our will over to Hashem and live with His help, instead of trying to use our own strengths to fight something that is stronger than us.

Do you think you may have a porn addiction?

Do you have a problem with obsessive and compulsive porn use? Have you seriously tried the tools on GYE and feel that you are not getting better? Maybe it’s time to consider joining a 12-Step program.

Porn Anonymous (PA)
If you’re compulsively acting-out with pornography and masturbation we suggest you explore joining Porn Anonymous (PA). If you need help deciding whether to join PA, call Michael at 347-699-2368, or email help@pornanonymous.org to schedule a time to talk. For more information visit pornanonymous.org (Hebrew: p-a.org.il / Yiddish: pa-yid.org).

Sexaholics Anonymous (SA)
If your compulsive acting-out has progressed beyond the screen (with other people, paid sexual services, etc.) we suggest you explore joining Sexaholics Anonymous (SA). To figure out if SA is for you, call Dov at 917-414-8205, or email Dov at dov@guardyoureyes.org to schedule a time to talk. For more information visit www.sa.org.

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