The path of one whose family member is addicted is often long and grueling.  It is filled with a few ups and far too many downs.  It is a path where our deepest fears are encountered, our vulnerabilities exposed and our failings magnified.  Along the way, the forces at work impact us, shape us and change us.  In most cases we feel ourselves to be at the mercy of these ill winds that blow through our lives.

However, this is not completely true.  We can, with courage, change the things that are genuinely in our control and, with grace, accept the things that are not.  We can choose truth over denial and tough love over codependent rescuing.  We can choose to seek help and rely on the wisdom and strength of others.  We can choose health.  We can choose to be happy even when happiness seems an impossibility.

Here’s a little fact that we often fail to see when we are in an unhappy place…. happy people have real problems too!  However, they have somehow along the way learned, through practice, how to be happy in spite of their difficulties.  Let me share some other facts about happy people:

  1. They don’t see themselves as victims – we all can lay claim to being a victim. However, if you choose to cast yourself in this role you will be an angry and miserable person.
  2. They have close friends – deep friendship contributes more to most adults’ happiness than even their children do. Relying on children for your happiness is not a healthy way to live life. Cultivate adult friends.
  3. They earn what they have – an attitude of “I deserve it” leads to ungratefulness. Ungratefulness kills happiness.
  4. They have realistic (and few) expectations – the more we expect, the less happy we are likely to be. The more unrealistic our expectations are, the more likely we will be disappointed.
  5. They are grateful – with limited and realistic expectations as well as a lack of entitlement, we are freed to enjoy the small and the ordinary. Life becomes full of gifts to delight in every day.

Let me encourage you to begin practicing happiness right where you are….today!  You will find that happiness attracts more happiness and happiness attracts happy people.  There certainly are powerful forces working to push us down.  My suggestion?  Push Back!

Walking the path with you….

~ Ron

Ron Paterik is a practicing psychotherapist in Phoenix, Arizona with over 20 years experience. He is a licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor and also Whole Life Leadership Mentor at Grand Canyon Counseling.