Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 900-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 30th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

It's how we Think

I just got back from Mexico after spending a week at the beach.

Most of the time down there it was cloudy, rainy and somewhat humid, though the humidity wasn't much different than it is here in Arizona.

On more than one occasion another tourist would comment on how sad it was that it was going to be raining for most of the week. However, they were kind of surprised when I responded with how much I enjoyed the rain. In fact, most of the time when it was raining the hardest I would be out in it walking along the beach while listening to an audiobook. It was only after I explained that we were from Arizona and the rain is such a rarity here that they understood where I was coming from. I think it rains from 9 to 11 inches here in Arizona in a whole year.  And I think it rained that much down there in a couple of days.

And I think that much of life comes down to how we interpret what's going on. For the past two and a half years I've been going through some challenging situations. Divorce. Lawsuits. Friends becoming too sick to work anymore. Losing other friends to accidents and illness. Having major disagreements with family members who have certain ideas about how I should live.

And there are a lot of ways I could interpret the ups and downs that have come into my life. I could feel sorry for myself and ask why do these things happen to me? Or I could look upon them as being educational experiences that I can use as objects of meditation. Or I could look at my life in comparison to much of the rest of the world. And that's probably my favorite ways to look at things. Because there are many around our planet who live on much less than we do and who do not enjoy the benefits that we are given in our modern world.

There are those who live on a few dollars a day. There are those who walk miles to get clean water. There are those who suffer from lack of medical care. There are those who don't have the benefits of education and so forth. When we interpret our lives we can compare our ourselves either to those who have a lot more than we do. Or we can compare ourselves with those who have a lot less than we do. And when I run into a rough patch in my life I usually look around me and see others who have real challenges surviving from day to day.

When I filter the circumstances of my life that way I always find gratitude for where I'm at today. The way I see it I'm lucky to be alive today after spending more than 51 years addicted to alcohol and drugs and going in and out of jail. Even though I promised myself I would never get married again, I know that I can always pick up the phone and find someone to spend time with if I get lonely. After 28 years of sobriety I've developed a lot of friendships and have many people who support me.

Today I've learned to come to terms with my thinking, which at one time used to get me into a lot of trouble.

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