When recovering from an addiction, keeping busy is a good idea. But, keeping busy won’t necessarily fill the void. You can pick up a hobby that keeps you occupied, distracted, but there’s more to it than keeping yourself distracted. There’s a little more to it when we’re talking about actually filling the void left by addiction. You’re building a whole new group of friends, making a complete and total severance with all of your hangouts, your activities, everything you were doing before. You’re starting over from zero, and it can be difficult to build a new life from scratch.
How to Identify Meaningful Pursuits
Some hobbies are a way to pass the time, others go a little deeper than that, enriching your life. Playing solitaire on your laptop is a hobby that doesn’t have much to offer besides momentary distraction. But suppose you pick up drawing or singing. These are activities that will have you meeting new friends, attending events and developing a new skill set. You might never pursue these activities full time as an occupation, but attending a life-drawing class and meeting new people there can do you a world of good. When pursuing a new activity to fill your time, you’re looking for a hobby that meets certain criteria. These rules aren’t necessarily set in stone, but they’re a good guideline to finding something rewarding to do with your time.
- There’s a community surrounding it
- It gets you out of the house
- It’s healthy (technically, drinking meets the first two criteria, so you want to make sure that you’re doing something that isn’t hazardous to your health)
- You enjoy it
Defining Meaning for Yourself
Some people argue that an activity isn’t worth pursuing if you’re not making money at it. But it’s not really a waste of time if it’s making you new friends and keeping you interested. Even an activity that is largely pursued alone may have some social aspect to it that you find deeply rewarding. If you want to learn how to sculpt, you’re going to be spending a lot of time alone in your room with nothing but a block of clay and your iTunes to keep you company, but eventually you may wind up showing that sculpture off in a gallery or speaking with fellow artists, even if it’s just online at first. Some of the most rewarding activities are those that give us time to ourselves, to be alone with our thoughts, as well as giving us a good reason to meet people with similar interests. Activities that combine personal development with community include:
- Joining a gym
- Art, music, dancing and so on
- Pursuing a new career path
- Sports and games (bowling, chess etc)
- Standup comedy, theater and other performing arts
These are just a few suggestions. There are too many to list in full. You can do just about anything you want with your life, and there are a billion options that combine personal development with a sense of community.
Embracing the Search for Meaning
Now here’s the tricky thing: We all struggle with meaning, we all struggle to determine whether we’re wasting our time or pursuing something worthwhile. Coping with addiction can make it harder because we’ve devoted so much time to an unhealthy pursuit, but at the end of the day, it’s your life. If you’re recovering from addiction, it might not be easy to trust your own judgment, but that’s the only choice you’ve got. Even if you’re going to trust someone else to make 100% of your decisions for you, you have to make the call on who to trust. And now the question is coming down to what you find meaningful and rewarding. We all have to fill the void, it’s not only a concern for those of us in addiction recovery. Filling the void is, really, what life is all about. That gets all of us down now and then, but don’t let it keep you down. Get out there and make your life mean whatever it is that you want it to mean. This is going to take some time, some courage, and some patience, but it’s the only choice any of us have.
After recovery, it’s essential that you find things that bring you meaning in life. Whether it’s an activity, place of work or surrounding yourself with loved ones, filling the void keeps you tuned in to the beauty of a sober lifestyle.