Doing The Next Right Thing

By Aaron Emerson

Earlier this year, as I was just starting to come out of the fog of active addition, I always heard people in meetings and recovery circles say “just do the next right thing and everything will work out.”

I found the phrase kind of annoying. Nobody moves up in life by just doing the next right thing in front of them. Besides, some of the world’s richest people have had to cut corners, utilize loopholes and perhaps make some questionable ethical decisions.

Looking back on it now, though, it all makes sense. I guess it’s one of those things you have to experience yourself to believe. After all, they weren’t using the slogan to talk about money or advancing up the status ladder. They were talking about peace of mind and how to treat others.

I have since come to realize that, yes, if you simply do the next right thing and live your life with a sense of gratitude, compassion and pride, things do tend to work themselves out.

Last week I got some terrific news at work. I was promoted to manager and will be leading the night shift. My bosses really value me and told me if I do a good job at manager, there are more promotions in the future within the business if I work hard. 

I took this job at a local pizza franchise as a delivery driver in the summer just to make some extra cash. I was newly sober and excited about life. I had started working a program of recovery and just wanted to prove myself to start developing a resume. 

After a while, I started getting more and more hours and got comfortable. I started to look at it as more than just a job to make a few bucks. I started living out the “do the next right thing” slogan and good things started happening. 

I never thought I would eventually move up in the company like I’m starting to now. I’m not writing this to say “look at me, I’m doing so good in life today!” I have just been realizing lately that life tends to take so many unexpected turns. When we act in good faith, treat others kindly, strive to make the most out of each day and develop a positive mindset, those unexpected turns usually end up being blessings.

I used to be so negative in life. I still can be, to be honest. But when I actually started praying and believing that good things were on the horizon, good things started happening. I’m not where I want to be in life. There’s still a lot I want to accomplish and I’m not content at being a manager of a pizza shop as a career. But to look back on where I was at the beginning of the year and compare it to the present, it’s almost impossible to think I was the same person.

I couldn’t go more than two hours without drinking a six pack or taking a hit of heroin or cocaine. Now, thanks to an amazing support system, prayer, and simply “doing the next right thing,” I’m happy, employed, sober, and a father figure to my daughter.

Life can be such a challenge. I know it’s not as easy as it sounds and happiness isn’t just something you can decide to flip a switch to turn on when you have addiction and mental health issues. I’m not acting like if you just simply try to be a good person you are going to automatically become happy and rich. I am simply sharing my story of how I turned around my attitude and added in prayer and faith in my life. When I did that, things slowly started to come together.

When we die, people aren’t gonna care about how much money we made or what we did for a living. The people closest to us are going to remember how we treated them. When we can live with value and seek to do the right thing in every situation, our attitudes improve. With a better attitude, we usually accomplish more of our goals. Slowly things start improving. Just try to do the next right thing today and see how it goes. 

Author: Aaron Emerson

From Lansing, Michigan, I am a recovering heroin addict and alcoholic. I share my story to spread hope, raise awareness and erase the stigma of addiction. I am a huge Detroit sports fan and have a seven year old daughter.

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