Recently, I was asked this very question!
Naturally, like you, I shouted out,” absolutely NOTHING.” I quit smoking seven years ago and then dropped a bunch of extra weight by eating smarter, walking more, and drinking a glass or two of wine only three times a week. I haven’t been inside a casino in more than fifteen years, haven’t had recreational drugs in 35 and have never even entertained the idea of fetishes and feathers. Pretty clean, right?
Not so fast.
According to internationally renowned Gabor Maté (a brilliant Hungarian-Canadian Physician specializing in addiction), 90% of us are addicts and the other 10%? It seems we’re just lying to ourselves.
The good doctor says one of the Latin roots of addiction is Slavery. So in his world, addiction is any behaviour that we humans are a slave to.
Addiction is a complex process manifested in any behaviour a person finds temporary pleasure in or release from. We humans will create the behaviours and suffer ALL the negative consequences because we can’t (or won’t) refuse it or give it up. So, addiction in the short term is creating something to give pleasure and provide relief. And over the long term, the impact of the negative consequences harms us because of our inability to cease, desist and let it go.
Whoa! There is nothing in this definition about sex, drugs, rock and roll, gambling, drinking or smoking. But there is EVERYTHING about where our minds are at.
The exact question I was asked was, ‘are you addicted to money?’
And when looked at through the good doctor’s definition, I think that most humans, including myself, ARE addicted to money.
It all started when we were kids. We sized ourselves up with our friends and neighbours and pretty much knew from day one where we sat on the economic scale. It continued into our young adulthood when we decided which career to chase, which companies to join and which car and house to buy. It did not let up as we brought our kids into the world and then prepared for our retirements.
Every single day, every thought and action we have revolves around money. So, of course, we are addicted to money. It’s a symptom of living in a capitalistic society. Our entire identity is tied up in how much we do or do not have and how hard we do or do not work – all for the pleasure of keeping our families safe, our lives enriched, and our pursuit of having amazing things and experiences.
And frankly, after all the living we have done, I don’t believe any of us would stop it even if we could.
In the business world, it’s always about how much MORE you can make. It’s never about how happy you can be or how much better you can leave the world. Always. It’s about the bottom line. It’s always about more, More and MORE.
So, yeah, I am addicted to money. And you are addicted to money. No matter what choices we have made with our own or with other people’s money, we get our pleasure and relief from obsessing about it. And frankly, until we die, we’ll always be stuck in that groove.
What if there were a different way?
I am not referring to living off-grid or going underground. What would it take for us to enjoy right now the full abundance of what we already have? What if that enjoyment did not need money to fuel it? How would we feel? Could we get out of the money rut and into the abundance rut?
I believe we can.
Long-time readers already know how Life threw me a minor curveball which necessitated a scale-back of my lifestyle. I have watched so many others adjust their lifestyles downwards to fit their new lives. It is a common thing to do. And a very human thing to do. Yet, here is the truth.
It is NOT about scaling back or scaling down.
It’s about matching our lifestyle to the true essence of ourselves. The truth is, none of us need a whole bunch of money to be happy. If there is one thing I have seen in creating millionaires over the years, money doesn’t make us happy. Instead, money only accentuates who we already are.
I don’t have a concrete answer about being addicted to money or becoming unstuck from it. Nor do I have a magic wand to help you cease and desist from any other addiction that might plague your life.
What I do have is massive amounts of encouragement to look at your Life. Rediscover the essence of you. Reclaim all that is yours.
Asking and answering that we are both addicts is one thing. The better question to ask is, do you know and love the fundamental person you really are?