Fake Joy or Real Joy?

by Amy on February 9, 2018

After I stopped drinking, I developed an obsession with dark chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s.

I’d buy a huge container of them and eat the whole thing in a couple days.

I would drive to TJ’s just for the peanut butter cups, nothing else…

I’d get a rush eating the initial few on the drive home, but then the high would wear off and all that was left was that icky feeling of having just eaten too much sugar. Still, I’d keep popping them in my mouth throughout the day, hoping for that rush again.

“At least I’m not drinking anymore,” I’d rationalize.

But underneath I knew I couldn’t really credit peanut butter cups for keeping me sober, in fact, those peanut butter cups were part of the same pattern that caused me to drink in the first place.

It reminds me of the old days when I’d go to the mall with my parents after they’d been booze free for a few years.

For my parents, the mall was an orgy of consumption. We’d stroll through stopping to buy things…clothes, toys, books… occasionally pausing to get eat ice-cream or caramel corn or an orange Julius. At the time, I thought I was in heaven, I didn’t realize I was learning a destructive pattern of behavior that I’d bring with me into adulthood.

Fake joy.

We live in a instant gratification world. Most of us are conditioned to some degree to feel better the quick and easy way via readily available sources that flood our brains with an initial rush of dopamine. It might be alcohol, or food, shopping, sex, or even relationships with other people.

I should know. It seems that much of my existence has been an all consuming quest to feel good as quickly and easily as possible. Here are a few of the things I’ve tried:

Booze.
Men.
Cigarettes.
Shopping.
Achievement.
Money.
Clothing, especially designer items.
Praise.
Pot.
Social status.

Like my parents, I grew to love alcohol the most, as a quick and easy source of fake joy. Fake because it worked for a short time but wore off quickly and created new kinds of problems. Hang overs. Shame. Extra weight. Bad decisions. Fights. And worst of all, a severe disconnect from my true self. These problems continued to get worse and worse until I decided to stop four years ago. But after I stopped that source of fake joy, I quickly turned to food (chocolate covered peanuts butter cups) and shopping, just like mom and dad.

It’s been a long road but…

Nowadays I source my joy from so many things — my family, my connection to spirit, my memoir project, my friends, my body, my senses, being of service, nature.

All of the above, sources of joy with no expiration date, that inspire me and make my life better.

Here’s how to tell the difference between fake joy and real joy:

FAKE JOY offers a quick hit of pleasure but wears off quickly leaving you feeling empty. It has immediate negative consequences — a hangover, extra calories, lower self esteem, debt, STD’s, etc — and its never free. You have to buy it with actual money or if you don’t purchase it with cash you still have to give something up to get it.

REAL JOY can be less of a “rush,” or quick hit but it offers more sustainable happiness. It doesn’t wear off leaving you feeling empty, it enhances your life and it is sourced in some way, shape, or form from inside of you.

The catch?

The more you turn towards fake sources of joy, the less likely you’ll be able to access real joy. If you’ve conditioned your brain for the quick hit, you’ve got to give yourself some time to rewire that part of your brain that demands that instant rush of dopamine.

Start now! It’s worth it. Feel your feelings, make space, take a lot of hot baths, smell some essential oils. Eventually you’ll get to a point where you don’t need fake joy.

And then my friend…You will be free. And you will teach your kids how to be free through your example.

Is food your favorite source of fake joy? Then I urge you to check out the upcoming free call by my friend Makayla McDonald owner of Food Peace and Body Love who will be teaching a powerful technique to uncover the emotional drivers that trigger compulsive eating. This class is for you if you use food to numb out, to celebrate, to distract, to de-stress, to relax, to reward yourself, or if you just eat too much! Register here: http://www.makaylamcdonald.com/talk.html

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

J Smith February 17, 2018 at 12:13 pm

Wow. Very True. Great article.

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