Many years ago, I worked in a halfway house with adolescents with drug problems. There was a common belief in the field that, once someone with a drug problem goes through the process of treatment, they lose the ability to enjoy using drugs. They have seen a better life and are aware of the depth of the consequences of using drugs. The concept was commonly known as spoiling the drug use.
It seems that the same is true with any spiritual or personal development. For instance, once you give up dwelling on negativity and learn how great life is with a positive attitude, whining and complaining just doesn’t offer the same pleasure anymore. It’s like peeing in a swimming pool. When we were little, it offered relief and warmth, but now with our knowledge and experience with sanitation, we just don’t want to swim around in our waste anymore.
My Spoiled Misery
Yesterday, I experienced one of those days when everything seems to be going wrong. I fell into a cycle of negativity where I allowed my frustration from one experience to cast a shadow on other experiences throughout the day. The whole time, I was fully aware of my self-defeating behaviors and I just could not take comfort in blaming circumstances for my bad attitude. My bad attitude was spoiled by my spiritual growth, experience and knowledge that my attitude is my own responsibility and not a product of circumstances.
Perhaps some readers are wondering, “why would someone expect to take pleasure in negativity?” I’m not sure how common such an attitude is. But, if you have ever been angry at someone or about something and took pleasure in complaining about it, you understand what I am talking about. There was a time in my life when that was my norm. I used to complain so much that I prided myself in my ability to do so effectively, creatively and persuasively. I could turn an optimistic friend to doubt and suspicion.
That ability has been seriously impaired by my spiritual growth, but it still manifests sometimes. A lifelong attitude does not go away overnight. For some of us, it requires continuous consciousness to avoid falling back on the default behaviors. Fortunately, with time and practice, it becomes nearly impossible to maintain self-defeating behaviors. Once they have been spoiled by wisdom, the lapses become short and few and far between.