Addiction can kill you. It can kill hopes. It can kill dreams. And it can even kill the will to live. If, that is, it doesn't literally kill you first. So we've gotta ask: Is there really any such thing as a positive addiction?
William Glasser advanced the concept of positive addiction. In fact, he wrote the book on it. Glasser primarily focused on running and meditating. But he also offered many other examples of positive addiction. Glasser said positive addictions “strengthen us and make our lives more satisfying.” They also enable us to “live with more confidence, more creativity, and more happiness, and usually in much better health.” In other words, positive addictions, unlike their negative cousins, enhance life.
Some Criteria for a Positive Addiction
- Noncompetitive that you can devote approximately an hour per day
- Possible to do easily and doesn’t necessarily require a good deal of mental effort
- Possible be done alone or with others but does not depend upon others to do it
- Something you believe has some physical, mental, or spiritual value
- Something you believe will improve you but only you need to measure the improvement
- Possible to do without self-criticizing. If you can’t accept yourself during this time the activity will not be addicting
No, a positive addiction doesn't have to dominate your day-to-day. Instead it can stay confined within a time frame. Sure, the beneficial consequences can spill over into your entire life. But the activity itself generally remains limited. Whatever the duration though, your attitude is crucial. A critical attitude will diminish the pleasure. A negative attitude will preempt a positive addiction completely.
The Need for Addiction
Glasser claims we need to become addicts. Really. If, that is, we want to become stronger, healthier individuals. Now that claim might not seem to make much sense, especially to the addict and alcoholic whose life has spun out of control because of addiction. But there are other addictions besides meth, dope, crack, liquor, gambling, opioids and sex.
Indeed there are positive addictions. So says Glasser anyway. And these positive addictions can give us the strength and resiliency to live with more confidence, creativity and happiness. They can often help us become physically healthy as well.
Some Positive Addictions
- Weight Training
- Volunteer Work
- Advanced Study
The list, of course, is endless. Whatever helps you catch your breath, increase your creativity, brings you inner peace and happiness, and/or enhances your sense of self-worth.
The Most Positive Addiction
We at Recovery Boot Camp would like to add one positive addiction to the list -- that is, recovery. Sure, an addict or alcoholic can go too far, even in recovery. But when we fully focus on the elements of recovery that help us to catch our breath, increase our creativity, bring us inner peace and happiness, and/or enhance our sense of self-worth (i.e. the 12 Steps), we not only reduce our risk of relapse, but we become better people to boot. And if that's not a positive addiction, well, then nothing is.