Our society’s obsession with acquiring money and possessions is yet another factor that makes us addiction-prone. If we look to things to full us up, we pay for this magical solution with our freedom—our soul. As long as we think we must protect our supply of things, we are impeded in making career and other life decisions that will truly gratify us. Then we look for something else (our mood changers) to fill the emptiness.
Did you know the word addiction actually derives from the Latin word “addere,” which means “to devote.” In the absence of something greater to devote ourselves to, we become devoted to alcoholism and abuse.
Looking for the Answer in Addictive Behavior
For example, workaholism, which is a type of addictive behavior that is classified as the addiction to working, is fueled by the striving for material success. People stay at jobs that are ill suited for them, commute long distances and work long hours—including hours spent at home and on the weekends catching up on extra work. These are behaviors that can damage one’s mental and in some cases physical health.
Across the United States, men and women are spending more hours working every week, and dedicating fewer hours to leisure. Yet, only about half of American adults describe themselves as “satisfied” with their work. So why would someone bring so much stress onto themselves without getting inherent satisfaction from the process? There is an underlying belief that satisfaction will come—if they work hard enough.
We measure ourselves and others by what we do, what we have and how much we accomplish rather than by who we are and how we feel. This drives many people to achieve recognition by working harder—just as the alcoholic is searching for happiness or peace at the bottom of the next bottle.
Ultimately, the addictive pursuit of things—like any other addiction—cannot fill us up. We feel empty and bored, we are tired from overworking and feel guilty about the hours we spend neglecting ourselves and our families. There is the ever-emerging addictive paradox; the compulsive pursuit of material success keeps us from the only kind of success that actually can gratify us, the success of just being and knowing that “I am enough.”