Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 900-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 30th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

The Path To Happiness.

Ask a room full of people to raise their hands if they want to be happy probably 98% of them will raise their hands.

Taking it further, if you ask each person to define what happiness is for them you get a multitude of answers. For a number of them, it will be a lot of money – maybe even to be come a billionaire. The next person might want something simpler, like a new house, a better job, a new wardrobe.

And if you take it a step further and ask them how long they've been seeking these things that will make them happy, some of them will answer that they been thinking this way most of their lives.

In the case of most people it seems that most of them will only be happy when they reach the next thing that makes them feel good. And I'm sure we've all experienced this to some degree. I'll be happy when I get my grades to an acceptable level. I'll be happy when I get a slot on the football team. I'll be happy when the girl of my dreams accepts my invitation to go on a date with her. Or maybe I'll be happy when I graduate from college and get my first job.

The one thing that all of these desires have in common is that they lie somewhere in the future. Virtually everything that we think will make us happy is somewhere down the road. Because my experience in life is the things that make me happy are the challenges associated with accomplishing them. To me it is somehow personally validating to start a project and see it flourish and grow. Once it becomes what I visualize it to be, it doesn't seem so great after all.

If you look at Jeff Bezos the founder of Amazon, who also happens to be the wealthiest man in the world, and ask him what makes him the happiest he will likely answer something like "the process of putting together a project or achieving a goal." Because at this moment he can purchase any material thing he wants. He can take any vacation he wants. He could buy so much stuff that it would drown him. It I'm sure that percolating somewhere in the back of his brain is the next step he has to take on his way to completing another project.

I believe that if we look at our lives as a path that will lead us to success and happiness we will be much happier people. Because I've achieved many things I set out to do in my life. In looking back upon what I've achieved up to this point I would say the struggle, the hard work, planning, is what my life is been all about. I always find myself – once I completed what I set out to do – finding myself looking to the next thing I want to learn or accomplish.

For example, one of the things I wanted to do was quit using drugs and alcohol, something I accomplished 29+ years ago. And because I don't want to have to start out at step one and do it all over again I stay on the path of sobriety and live with recovery at the center of my life. And that has given me the freedom to accomplish other things – such as helping others achieve their goals of living in recovery. The point of all this is that you will find your happiness as you put in the work to achieve your goals, no matter what they are.  And living with this goal brings me great happiness.