Sometimes we get swept up in comparisons, looking at other’s lives from the outside and wondering why we aren’t fortunate enough (or good enough) to live such a rich existence. Other times we compare ourselves to our own desires, believing that if we were “better” we might find happiness in our dreams coming true. There’s a future version of our lives that seems much more compelling (and fitting) than the one we are currently living.

And then we pause. We might even cry (because sometimes, we need a good cry). And we get still long enough to get present. We strip away the comparisons and notice what is right before our eyes. We taste the cup of tea that we lovingly prepared. We stop focusing on the gap between where we are and where we want to be and we invite peace to meet us where we stand. And we glimpse it. That spiritual surrender that rests between not knowing how and trying too hard. 

There will always be a gap and it will never define you. There will always be more to do and more to want. We will never arrive at perfect peace, with everything in order, with every dream realized. And if we do, then we are sure to start the cycle all over again. 

So, pause. Back up your vision to where your feet stand at this moment. What do you need right now and how can you give it to yourself? Stop running towards what you think will make you happy someday and look for the happiness that exists in this moment. Perhaps it’s much simpler than the happiness you’ve imagined but perhaps it is also much sweeter. Because you can really lean into it... Calling up a friend. Taking a long bath. Reading the book you’ve been meaning to read. Whatever it is, lean into it.

And breathe.

Ingrid Mathieu, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and author of Recovering Spirituality: Achieving Emotional Sobriety in Your Spiritual Practice.

Follow her on Twitter or Facebook for daily inspiration on achieving emotional sobriety. Watch her short videos or visit her website at

Copyright by Ingrid Mathieu, Ph.D., 2012. All rights reserved. Any excerpts reproduced from this article should include links to the original on Psychology Today.

Emotional Sobriety

Recovering from substance addiction—without becoming addicted to spirituality.
Ingrid  Mathieu, Ph.D.

Ingrid Mathieu, Ph.D., specializes in the intersection of spirituality and addiction. Her book, Recovering Spirituality, centers on the problem of using spirituality to avoid real recovery.

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