The Mythology of Happiness in Recovery

Happiness is more a state of being than it is an emotion. Gratitude and attitude are the keys. How lovely and disturbing to find that they’re both in our control. Here it comes – another opportunity to get out of our own way.

Using K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) we achieve happiness by removing obstacles to it:

“I Just Wish…”

“I just wish…” is a “poor me.” It’s self-pity and it belongs nowhere in our lives. Pining for what we want leads to the ongoing lie of “I’ll be happy when…” This is the ever-moving target of what our heart most desires. Whether we get it or not, we’re always going to want the next thing:

The Ain’t It Awful Game

Every once in a while, I joke that I’m going to start a group therapy program for people who want to wallow in self-pity. Group wallowing starts with one person whining about their troubles, only to have someone else explain why theirs are much worse. Why anyone would want to win this game is beyond me. We justify our way into being so overwhelmed that we have no accountability and no opportunities for change.

Keep Your Head Where Your Body Is at

As crude as it is, I’ve always been fond of the expression, “I had one foot in yesterday and one foot in tomorrow and I was pissing all over today.” When we’re most unhappy, we’re living in the regrets of the past or the fears of tomorrow. Meanwhile, we’re not grounded in the possibilities of today.

Happiness requires a healthy perspective. We achieve this when we ask ourselves:

  • What do I have control over and what don’t I?
  • What’s mine to manage?
  • … and what have I taken on that doesn’t belong to me?

Choosing Gratitude

Writing a gratitude list is a great start. It increases mindfulness and appreciation for all that we have. If we’re open to it, we receive reminders of all we take for granted. Meetings are good for this, but so is being aware of where others are at in their journeys.

My work with homeless individuals keeps me mindful that all of my basic needs are met. As I aspire to having, doing, and being more, I easily lose sight of how blessed I am.

Grounded in our Priorities

The more our thoughts, choices, and actions reflect our priorities, the happier we are. Being focused on attaining goals yields greater self-respect and a sense of accomplishment.

The secret of happiness is that it involves hard work. If we’re completely honest with ourselves, we see that we don’t just want happiness – we want it to come easily.

Growing Spiritually

I find that I have two choices in life. I can grow spiritually or I can suffer. Being complacent in my relationship with my Higher Power (HP) simply doesn’t work. When I surrender what I think I want; I consistently find that what my HP wants for me is far greater than what I think I want.

The problem with doing things my HP’s way is that it always involves me going two steps outside of my comfort zone. I’ve never regretted doing this, yet somehow, I manage to resist each next step. Surrendering my will is a daily necessity because my HP wants me to be far more than happy. My HP wants me to have Joy.

Guaranteed Happiness

The world is full of people who are struggling. When we are of service to others, we make an investment in them and in ourselves. The only way to keep it is to give it away.