She wouldn't believe me. She leaned forward on the table and asked for the eighth time, “Really? You were fat, bulimic AND an alcoholic? You?” And I said, “Yes I was...I was in a really dark period for about 12 years.” She responded with “Wow. Really? I just can't see you like that, I mean how’d you get over it?” She went on to tell me she suffers from obsessive eating issues and has never found a way out. I get asked this question a lot and I understand it a huge deal to recover from food addiction and alcoholism so, I’m grateful, and I’m willing to talk about it openly with those who ask.
There were a number of things that contributed to my recovery, however if I had to choose one thing, it would be “taking action.” Before I “took action,” I let action happen to me and it is so easy to let this be the pattern of your whole life, until you find yourself in a life you never wanted.
Here’s how it went: When I graduated from high school, it was assumed I’d go to college. So, I went to college. I had no idea if I wanted to go. I just went. When I got to college, I spent my summers doing lame (lame!) internships because I was told it looked good on my resume. I took classes because I was told they would be good for my career. (What career?) In short, I never actually took a moment to ask myself what I wanted and take action towards that goal. Coincidentally (?), I had a raging eating disorder. After college, the pattern continued, and I found myself in a job I hated and dating a man who had nothing in common with me. Finally, a wise voice in my head said the following sacred words… “You have got to be kidding me.”
Then one day, I started to think about those things that I once loved. I turned on music and started to dance, I started writing in a journal every night before bed and the next thing I knew, I left the guy, quit the job, moved into my own apartment...you get the idea. I took action. Action is crucial and it is not just for the sake of getting something done. It’s because of who you become during the getting it done.(Note: Let’s be clear about something here. When I talk about happiness and recovery, I’m not talking about an event. I do not walk around in a state of bliss, shouting, “I made it!” I am still learning and growing just like you.) So, why does “taking action” make you happier? Here are my five reasons:
1 - When you take action, you focus.
The average person lives in a pretty unfocused state and most people let too many things take their attention. The news, the drama, the girlfriend with the cheating boyfriend, the boyfriend with the cheating girlfriend, the latest shooting, the latest bombing, the latest plague, an invitation to something they don’t want to do. Taking action sets your focus and you suddenly step out of the stuckiness of it all. You claim your own present moment, you have intention, and you start focusing in on something that actually matters. This act alone is nothing short of a miracle and once you get going, you realize it feels so good.
2 - When you take action, you create.
The transition to becoming a creator means you start to take the reigns in your life. The power that comes from choosing to do something and then doing it is unparalleled. Do that enough times, and you might just develop something called “self esteem.”
3 - When you take action, you decide.
Deciding is a big deal and its not easy, however deciding creates direction. Lingering in indecision is a guaranteed way to get depressed and making decisions forces you to ask yourself what you want, rather than just following the usual course of what you “should do.” Or what you “usually” do. The way I started deciding? I flip a coin...I'm not kidding...heads I go to the party, tails I stay home...two out of three? Four out of five? The great thing about the coin flip is you start to see what you really want...That's It!!
4 - When you take action, you engage.
Most people are busy and they are so busy running around doing things, however if you look closely you see that they’re not engaged and they aren't connected. When you take action on a goal, this locks you into full engagement with your life and your spirit. Now, this may not happen right at first when you’re taking baby steps, however eventually you will notice that engagement brings joy and having a connection to a project or to a goal can give your life meaning and excitement.
5 - When you take action, you create new patterns.
One of those principles is that new neural pathways are created in your brain when you shift old emotional patterns. This is also what happens when you learn something new, or when you engage in a creative activity. You are physically developing new patterns in your mind through the decisions you make in your day, in your body, and in your spirit. That sounds pretty great, I know...so I ask, why not command joy today? Get inspired. Then, take some action!