RX for Leading a Happy Life

"Lead the life that will make you kindly and friendly toward everyone about you, and you will be surprised what a happy life you lead." - Charles Schwab, founder and CEO of Charles Schwab Investment Management (born 1937)

If we're just now embracing recovery after going through the challenge of rehab, hearing about a prescription may be the last thing we want. It could very well be that we've had it up to here with prescriptions of one sort or another. Granted, prescribed medication to help ease the withdrawal symptoms or lessen the anxiety and depression we may have felt during detox was necessary and helpful, but we're trying to be free of drugs, not take more of them - even if they're supposed to help, right?

Be advised that this prescription has nothing to do with taking pills. When we talk about a prescription for leading a happy life, it's more like a recommendation or a guiding principle to help us navigate the opportunities and challenges that will make themselves present along the way.

None of us has a crystal ball and, even if we did, we wouldn't be able to know everything there is to know about all things, all people and at all times. Nor would we know how we'd be able to interact with these yet-unknown people, places, things and circumstances - until we were confronted with them, sought them out, happened upon them or were introduced to them.

What we can do, however, is to prepare ourselves to be mentally, psychologically and emotionally ready to receive and experience a happy life. All it takes is for us to adopt the attitude and to live our lives in a manner that is what all the world's religions teach us. We don't necessarily have to love everyone we meet, but we can and should be able greet them with a friendly smile and a kind word. We all know or have seen the benefit of graciousness in the presence of animosity or selfishness. Being the better person somehow often takes away the sting of a nasty situation. It may even change the inappropriate and negative attitude of the other party. If nothing else, we come away feeling better about not having engaged in negativity, keeping our cool and going on our way.

It isn't that we're all supposed to be Pollyanna-like and suffer the slings and arrows heaped upon us. Turning the other cheek isn't what's recommended here. We're not advocating that we take whatever someone else decides to dish out. No, we do need to learn how to stand up for ourselves and what we believe in, especially when we believe in it strongly.

Still, thinking about all the people we're going to meet as we make our way in recovery, it's a far more pleasant thought to approach this in a spirit of kindliness and friendliness than one of fear, distrust, anger or disappointment. There is a school of thought that you are what you think, that you make your own fortune and are responsible for the life you live. If there's any credence to this with respect to our recovery, then we definitely want to come out on the positive end of things, don't we?

So, if all it takes is to train ourselves to look at the other side of the situation, to keep a good attitude, and to smile - even if we really don't feel much like it all the time - surely that's not too great a price to pay for the potential benefits that will come our way. We really won't know unless and until we try it, so there's no real downside to giving it a whirl. But don't just do a brief test-drive. It's important that we truly try to improve our outlook, if for no other reason than we do want to live a happy and more fulfilled life.

The only thing stopping us is our mistaken and outdated belief that somehow we don't deserve to be happy. In order to reap the benefit of this prescription, however, we have to ditch that belief entirely. It has absolutely no place in our new life in recovery. Maybe it takes us a little while to dump those old and persistent beliefs, but we can do it if we keep at it.

If we find that we're still down in the dumps for weeks on end, wracked with anxiety and depression, then it could be that we would benefit from additional therapy to help us find our way out of the labyrinth of misery and get on with our lives in the direction we want to go. There's nothing wrong with getting help to overcome such emotional difficulties.

Keep telling ourselves, over and over, if that's what it takes, that we do deserve to be happy. We are good. We are citizens of this world and want to make a lasting and good contribution to it. Working at this day by day will help us be better able to appreciate the richness and blessings of life that are all around us and within us.

Posted on June 6th, 2012

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