What is gratitude?
I was having a philosophical discussion with a good friend yesterday. He had been pondering the idea of scarcity and how it adds value to just about everything. He sited the historical relevance of the idea- for a long time, it was not really any sort of question to be asked, there was not much else but scarcity. Once there was abundance for some- but clearly not for all- the idea of manufactured scarcity came about.
Scarcity of Gratitude is the only real scarcity
Manufactured scarcity? It almost seems preposterous, but its a real thing, and has existed for a long time. For example- think of something that you love that you rarely get to indulge. Perhaps a massage, or a day of sleeping in, or lobster. Part of what makes it special is that it is scarce- at least, this is the idea. If you were to be given any of those things every single day for a year, they may not be so special to you. You would learn to take it for granted, probably, because it was the very scarcity that made it so singularly appealing.
You find many many businesses today operate on this very principle (or lack of it) creating demand and reducing the supply, so they can charge a consumer top dollar. Take the latest Gucci purse, for example. The manufacturer will say there are only limited quantities and you have to get on the waiting list. The magazines feature it in every editorial. It creates a storm of desire in women, who feel so blessed to be granted the privilege of paying $2500 for the coveted bag of the season- its as if they have won the lottery, to be one of the few to get their hands on that bag. And truly, there is no scarcity of said handbag. Hence- manufactured scarcity. Its not a treat if you can have it whenever you want it.
I have trouble with this idea, though. I mean, really- What is gratitude, after all? When I consider the question, I like to think of abundance as something that is everyone’s birthright. Not all of us step into abundance, or call it to us, or recognize it as such- but I do like to think that if we got out of our own way, we would be able to access abundance.
Abundance of what, you might ask? If I could answer that, then I could answer the question of What is gratitude, for each and every one of us. It entirely depends on you and what you value. I have, most of the time, an abundance of …not enough money. So thats abundance of a negative. I also have an abundance of friends- thats abundance of a positive! Both of those things reflect a lot about what I value, and what I still am learning to put into perspective. But this concept of scarcity, while I get it- it bugs me. It makes me feel that, if one bought into this concept, then one would, if given unlimited access to abundance, soon enough take it for granted. That is not what gratitude is. Far from it.
If one took abundance for granted, then there would be a scarcity of gratitude. And scarcity of gratitude on any level is a recipe for a meaningless existence. What gratitude is- its one of those things that, if you always had it, you would always be rich in the right way. It is also one of those beautiful things that are entirely our own choice. We can have as much gratitude as we want and no one can take it away from us- unless we allow it.
I stop and consider what would happen if I lived somewhere where I saw an amazing sunset every day, and had a clear view of the stars at night, and I could jump into a warm turquoise ocean whenever I wanted. Would I value these things less for their accessibility? I kind of don’t think so. I have a lot of gratitude for my life now, which is far less ideal than the aforementioned scenario, but I am grateful for it. I wouldn’t be more grateful for that life- I would be equally grateful. What is gratitude? Gratitude just is, no matter what else is happening.
Gratitude takes me to a place that is beyond better or worse or any sort of comparisons or judgements. It is gratitude for what is, right now, no matter what that right now might look like. Can I stay grateful if I wreck my car? Or lose my job? That, my friends, is no easy feat. I work really hard at maintaining that state of grace no matter what the external conditions. I feel like my life depends on this positive perception- and perception is everything.
I am no superhuman- I fail at this ALL the time. But I am getting better, and I am dedicated to perfecting it, fully knowing I may never get it perfect. Perfection is not the point. The point is this- gratitude gives meaning and substance and joy to my life- and that is my choice. Its my attitude, and no one can take it away from me- not unless I let them. Thats the beauty of it- there is no scarcity when gratitude is intact. And that makes a person above the entire philosophical discussion about the value of scarcity.
Gratitude is an energy that transcends the human condition, and grants us access to the eternal. It connects us to a state of divine equilibrium. What is gratitude? Its everything.
With Oxycontin Abuse All Over The News, Is Vicodin Abuse The Forgotten Prescription Painkiller Addiction?
Posted by John Lavitt on March 20, 2013
Vicodin abuse has been shunted to the shadows as Oxycontin abuse, addiction and overdoses draws the focus of the news media and the popular consciousness of American society. In recent drug articles and exposes from The Atlantic to The New York Post, Oxycontin covers all of the news coverage and dominates the focus of the media when it come to the prescription painkiller plague. Although the coverage makes sense given the problem, the noise of the Oxycontin focus drowns out the need to focus on other dominant prescription painkillers like Vicodin, Percodan and Percocet. In particular, the Clinical Staff at One80Center is surprised by the lack of coverage in regards to Vicodin abuse and Vicodin addiction.
The History of Vicodin Abuse
Vicodin has been a problem prescription painkiller for over a quarter of a century. Hydrocodone or Vicodin was created by German scientists in the mid 1920′s. The drug was approved for sale in the United States under the brand name Hycodan in 1943. In 1984, a version of Hydrocodone under the brand name Vicodin was approved for sale by the FDA. It was sold by Abbott Laboratories.Vicodin contains a combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is in a group of drugs called opioid pain relievers. Vicodin is most commonly taken orally in pill form or crushed up and snorted. Since acetaminophen is extremely harmful to the liver in high doses (2,000+ mg), some addicts try to extract the hydrocodone from the pill resulting in a vile liquid that can be taken orally or rectally via syringe. The actual result has been countless overdoses and deaths.
Given the amount of Vicodin abuse and the number of Vicodin overdoses, an FDA Advisory Panel voted in 2009 to ban both Vicodin and Percocet. Despite the recommendation and a bit of hoopla at the time, both prescription painkillers remain on the market and neither ban has been carried out. The vote remains like a shark with no teeth, a gun with no bullets, or a government act all for show but lacking any implementation and actual positive effect. People keep trying Vicodin because of its reputation as a great recreational drug and they keep getting hooked and they keep dying needlessly. When is the media going to pay attention and place Vicodin near the center of the discussion national prescription painkiller plague?
In 2002, it was reported that emergency-room visits involving Hydrocodone had increased 500 percent since 1990. In 2006, Americans were written 130 million prescriptions for painkillers containing Hydrocodone. The vast majority of these prescriptions are for Vicodin. In 2008, Abbott planned to sell a controlled-release version of Vicodin, but fails to get FDA approval. A few months later, Abbott laid off over 200 sales reps who were expected to be marketing the product. Yes, the selling of Vicodin and other prescription painkillers always has been a big business at the expense of the American people.
Vicodin Abuse Cannot Be Ignored
There is no question that Oxycontin abuse and Oxycontin addiction is a serious threat in our country and needs to be near the center of the national prescription painkiller debate. It does not, however, need to dominate the national discussion to the point where other brands of prescription painkillers are ignored. In the extensive experience of the clinical staff at One80Center with addicts in rehab and recovery, Vicodin has been a persistent and devastating brand of opioid painkiller that has led to addiction and worse. If the national debate is going to be on target, Vicodin abuse cannot be ignored.
I write often about the element of play, and the importance of keeping the spirit of rambunctiousness as an integral part of recovery.
I continue to write about it primarily because it remains so pivotal, and yet easily lost in the seriousness of sobriety. And sobriety aside, life is challenging no matter what else you might have going on.
Like any challenge, the experience one has is based on the spirit of the the endeavor. It’s fairly textbook, and we all know this: You can look at a mountain and say, “I have to climb that?” Or you can look at the mountain and say, “I get to climb that!” We all know this; most people in recovery will espouse this, but when it comes to living, breathing, being an example of this doctrine, we all find life grabbing us by the short and curlies at times. We get emotionally hijacked. We feel victimized by circumstances beyond our control. And that whole mantra and way of being we all aspire to goes directly out the window.
It happens. We are human, after all; what we do is err. But we get to learn from our erring ways, and hopefully we do. Recently I found myself clenching my emotional fists, for weeks, I was white knuckling it. My mind was curled into a tight ball and very little light was getting in. One gets used to this posture, and, like our Moms used to tell us when we crossed our eyes and made faces, “If you aren’t careful, your face will get freeze and stay like that!”
Thankfully we have the option of getting out of it before we become frozen and narrow minded, but we still need to be mindful. We become brittle and frozen when we do not exercise our emotional flexibility. Playfulness is exactly the thing that keeps us supple and vibrant.
As I said, I had a couple of weeks recently where my life circumstances had changed, and my schedule became more hectic, including the addition of two hours of driving to my already busy day. I had discovered I owed the IRS a huge amount of money. I had a list of grievances. I was feeling sorry for myself. I was … crunchy. And then I saw a sign. Literally.
I was driving to work after dropping my daughter off at school, still getting used to the new routine, when I whipped by one of the many construction signs that one can’t miss, as construction in Los Angeles is happening everywhere all the time, and always on the route you most want to go. It’s absurd, really.
This sign, however, said, “World Peace.” Then it said, “Make people laugh.” Then it switched to, “One smile at a time.” Finally it read, “Also, construction.”
I couldn’t really believe it the first time I saw it. I was driving and there was no one to turn to and say, “Hey! Did you see that?” But even so, it had an immediate effect. My outlook changed. It became lighter, because someone had taken the spirit of playfulness to another level, and because I needed a sign and I got one. I was infected by it.
All it took was a little boost, and I got my bounce back. I don’t ever want to go flat, lose my humor, and value victimhood over freedom. All bondage is of our own creation. It’s just how we see it.
I love that someone changed the sign to read something fun and thoughtful. Its the spirit of the person who did that which infected me more than the sign itself — that someone found it important enough to stop and play with all the people who would drive by that sign and see it — honoring that impulse, as it were- is what really inspires me.
How liberating is that? To step outside of the demands of life and just goof around with others? How much fun must that have been for that person?
And lest I forget, my Higher Power will make sure to remind me, and I love that. I count on it, and I am never let down.
Posted by John Lavitt on March 14, 2013
The plague of prescription painkillers is raging across America in the form of a multitude of opioid brands and kinds. Oxycontin, Percocet and Vicodin happen to be the most popular brand names on the market today. They are some of the brand names for oxycodone and hydrocodone. Nearly three out of four prescription drug overdoses are caused by prescription painkillers. The rate of addiction and the spread of the abuse is staggering as well. Let’s take a look at some facts provided recently by a CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) report on prescription painkillers.
In 2008, there were 14,800 prescription painkiller deaths. The misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers was responsible for more than 475,000 emergency department visits in 2009, a number that had nearly doubled in just five years. More than 12 million people reported used prescription painkillers to for recreational purposes in 2010. In 2010, 2 million people reported using prescription painkillers nonmedically for the first time within the last year—nearly 5,500 a day. The statistics go on and on, and they are shocking beyond comprehension. The problem is huge and continuing to grow each and every year.
The Clinical Staff at One80Center has focused numerous resources and expertise on fighting the prescription painkiller plague. From raising awareness to treating numerous clients, the efforts still feel like sand thrown into the wind of a raging storm. Unless federal and state governments become involved in the fight, unless the fight is even recognized as a problem in public by our public leaders, the resources needed for education, prevention and treatment will not be accessed. For example, in the last presidential election, did either candidate ever mention during a campaign stop while making a speech the need to adress the prescription drug abuse problem. The scary answer is basically “No.”
One80Center provides a proven individualized program to treat both prescription painkiller addiction and prescription drug abuse. But treatment comes after the fact when the hooks of the painkillers are deep in the wills and souls of the addicts at hand. When are we going to be able to access the kids and let them know what can happen before it’s too late? When can we use our experiences in a concrete way to raise awareness? It is frustrating how there are no clear answers for such questions.
Prescription Painkillers & One80Center’s Individualized Program
If you or a loved one is having a problem with prescription painkillers, One80Center has the experience and expertise that you need to get to the other side and on the path of long-term recovery. It does not matter the brand name (Oxycontin, Percodan, Percocet, Vicodin, etc.) or the type (hydrocodone, oxycodone). With expertise in medical detoxes and experience employing specialized services to foster recovery, we have helped prescription painkiller abusers and addicts change their stripes and discover their true path. Still, such work is not enough to stem the tide of the plague of prescription painkillers. If you want to learn more about how One80Center can help you, please take the first step and call 888.588.4180 and ask for our help.
The Abuse Of Alcohol Depletes Nutrition, Exacerbating The Extreme Toll Alcoholism Takes On The Human Body
Posted by John Lavitt on March 14, 2013
Alcoholism and the abuse of alcohol are nutritional nightmares, wreaking havoc on the human body. Known for doing damage to a variety of organs, including the liver, brain and pancreas, the effects of alcoholism in terms of health multiply when nutritional values are considered. Nutritional changes account for a significant portion of the long-term complications of alcoholism. In order to come back to full health once they embrace the long-term path of sobriety, most alcoholics need to change their nutritional habits in recovery.
One80Center Individualized Program Includes Health
The clinical staff at One80Center has seen that chronic alcoholics eventually develop severe forms of malnutrition-related illnesses. This is why we have incorporated nutritional help based on individual needs into our individualized program for our clients. With an organic garden on site and a gourmet chef with a nutritional background on staff, One80Center addresses a client’s health needs from a three-dimensional perspective. After all, recovery means more than just sobriety.
A positive benefit of making a healthy nutritional shift is that the maintenance of good nutritional habits actually helps to decrease the risks for a future alcohol-related relapse. Nutrition is the process through which the human body extracts health-supporting substances, known as nutrients, from foods in a daily diet. To maintain a healthy balance, human beings need to consume certain amounts of a variety of nutrients, including fats, carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, and vitamins.
Alcoholism Can Lead To Deadly Malnutrition
Lack of adequate nutrient intake will lead to a form of malnutrition called under-nutrition. In contrast, excessive nutrient intake will lead to another form of malnutrition called over-nutrition and potential obesity. In addition to other roles they play in the human body, proteins, fats and carbohydrates provide the energy needed in terms of calories for both voluntary and involuntary body processes.
Alcohol is a calorie-containing substance. As a result, it qualifies as a type of nutrient. The problem is that the other harmful properties of alcohol more than offset any potential benefits. First, and perhaps most importantly, alcohol, particularly when it comes to the amounts consumed by alcoholics, degrades the normal function of the liver, the stomach and other organs involved in the processing of nutrients. Alcohol actually prevents the human body from properly processing dietary fats while depleting the body’s supply of most major vitamins and essential minerals such as zinc, magnesium, calcium, and iron. In chronic alcoholics, serious or severe nutrition-related problems can lead to pancreatic inflammation and stomach ulcers.
A secondary problem with dire consequences is that many alcoholics fall into a habit of substituting alcohol for substantial portions of their normal daily diet. In extreme cases, this substitution decreases food and nutrient intake by as much as 50 percent. For alcoholics who initially start with minor malnutrition-related health issues, this pattern of food replacement can potentially worsen their condition. Such negative nutrient loss can even trigger the onset of major forms of malnutrition.
Restoring Health For Alcoholics In Recovery
In a study of alcoholics in early recovery, experts at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism identified multiple cases of malnutrition. As a result, they recommended a dietary program that addresses any nutritional deficiencies. While the specific required diet will vary from person to person, certain general dietary factors may play a role. For instance, consumption of high-protein foods can potentially reduce alcohol cravings by stabilizing an alcoholic’s blood glucose. Recovering alcoholics also benefit from supplements that contain concentrated doses of specific minerals or vitamins.
With an experienced chef and nutritional experts on staff, One80Center has addressed the dietary needs of clients in early recovery since the beginning. Beyond being a respected gourmet, the One80Center chef incorporates organic nutrition from our organic garden with each meal. The professional kitchen staff prepares individual meals to accommodate food preferences such as vegetarian, kosher, vegan, or other specialized dietary needs. In between meals, the kitchen is open for healthy snacks, fresh fruit and a variety of beverages. By focusing on the individual nutritional needs of each of our clients, One80Center’s individualized program directly responds to and helps to repair the nutritional damage done by active alcoholism.
Vulnerability. There may be no other word that makes modern people cringe more. Somehow, this one word and all that it entails sends us running for the hills, both literally and metaphorically. Is our collective recoil at the idea of being vulnerable a natural state, or is it a flaw of some sort, a defect in our programming?
Or, more to the point, the flaw IS the natural state of human beings. We are flawed. Its how we deal with the flaws that define our personal evolution. I am reminded of the movie Cinderella Man, a true story about a boxer (James Braddock) who was down on his luck. He was off his game, losing fights and wasn’t able to care for his family. Then he broke his right arm and he couldn’t fight at all, and went to work in an ice factory, grabbing hunks of ice with his good left arm and hauling them on to trucks. After a while, he got back in the ring, only to discover that due to his injury and having to use only his left arm, he had become a very strong boxer, much stronger than before as he now had his left hook backing him up, as strong as his right jab ever was. His defect put him in a place where he was able to emerge stronger. He didn’t foresee this- at the time, he was mired in defeat. He was down and he didn’t see any way up and out of it, not knowing that his salvation was being exercised even as he despaired.
So here we are in vulnerability. It keeps us from being able to get into the ring, or if we do get in the ring, it keeps us from being able to be present in a way that would create a fulfilling scenario. What do we do? What most of us do is shrink, hide, run, judge others for our own shortcomings, get angry, blame, become promiscuous instead of connected- and not just romantically- on all levels- we refuse to commit to so much of life that requires commitment. We are rootless. Lacking purpose. And what don’t we do, for the most part? Show up, take risks, allow ourselves to feel or be exposed, possess a willingness to make mistakes and own them, to care, out loud and in public for all to see… just to name a few examples.
Brene Brown says her research shows that most people equate vulnerability with weakness. And yet, the truth of the matter is that its actually the very definition of courage. Some things that make us feel vulnerable- saying “I love you” first, asking for a raise, saying no to our kids, saying no period, asking someone on a date, speaking in public….all of these things that make a person feel vulnerable are the most powerful moments in our lives, they are moments that define who we are. These are not moments that call for weakness…these moments call for strength. These call for risks- risking being exposed, rejected, denied, failing, risk of succeeding, risk of losing- “We buy into the myth of vulnerability as being a weakness because by doing so we give ourselves permission not to do it,” says Brene Brown in her conversation with Krista Tippett on the podcast On Being. “Try to remember the last time you did something brave, or saw someone do something brave.” Something is always at risk in any scenario one can consider.
That got me to thinking about heroes. In reality, a hero is someone who risks something big to help someone else. If vulnerability is opening yourself up to life, in all its glory and pain, to the extent that you might just get hurt, or even die- then those we unilaterally consider to be heroes – those who risk their lives to save others- are practicing the penultimate vulnerability. Having said that, any time we show up in our daily lives, stripped down and available to what life brings us, willing to be exposed, to fail, to be wrong, to be right, to win, to be real, to be open to whatever may come instead of avoiding the discomfort- at those times, we are also heroes. Life is either a Hero’s Journey, or its not. I find those people who are asking the hard questions and getting in the ring again and again after being beaten badly are capable of the most intense happiness. Its as if the struggles and the quest for understanding carve a deep reservoir into a person, and the deeper the reservoir, the more capacity for joy there is. In an emotionally promiscuous life, where no commitments are made and vulnerability is avoided, a person can only scratch the surface, at best. There is no capacity for deep and abiding joy, only fleeting distractions and drudgery. And there are plenty of people like that- too many, more and more all the time.
Like I saw on Project Appleseed Rifleman Training‘s podcast last night- the zombie apocalypse is already happening. Just peruse facebook for an hour! The zombies avoid commitment, vulnerability, pain, growth, depth, true connection. They can’t focus, emotionally, spiritually, mentally. And guess what? They want you to be a zombie, too. Anyone who is fighting the good fight reminds them that their existence is a shallow, half hearted one. And its easier to bring a person down a peg than to bring them up a peg, so we must always be wary of the dreamers who want to lure the wakers back to sleep.