Beware the barrenness of a busy life.

Addiction is distraction—be it a powerful psychoactive substance, the thrill of placing a bet, the feeling of wholeness that merging with another seems to promise, or…even just staying busy. At their root, addictions attempt to keep at bay underlying patterns of unwanted feelings—they distract us from the parts of ourselves that we may not be consciously aware of, but demand of us a numbing. And while it is acceptable to call on “lesser” addictions such as overactivity while we are trying to recover from stronger or more dangerous ones, we may eventually want to challenge ourselves to face the discomfort of stillness and see what it has to teach us. Remaining busy as a means of distraction can be tempting because it is acceptable. We praise the active. Especially when activity leads to an esthetic body or financial success, we venerate the busy. And of course it is desirable to be as busy as we need to be to create the life we want to live. But it is vital that we don’t simply use overactivity as an acceptable way to create a low-grade distraction powerful enough to stave off the deeper opportunity for healing that our addictions highlight.

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