girl finding meaning in her life

Is Happiness Actually the Real Goal of Addiction Recovery?

Happiness feels great, doesn’t it? 

In our society, there is emphasis on being happy. We’re told to do the things that bring us joy, and look at things from a ‘glass half full’ mentality. And this isn’t wrong. Life is short and precious, so it’s important to keep a positive mindset and try not to sweat the small stuff. 

However, focusing too much on being happy can actually lead to toxic positivity. This is definitely NOT something you want in recovery. And it’s important to know that we can’t be happy all the time. We’re humans with complex emotions, and sometimes, it’s okay to feel disappointed. 

When going through addiction treatment, you’ll work through a wide range of emotions. This is good. But rather than focusing on happiness as a goal, we at Awakenings Treatment Center encourage clients to build meaningful, purposeful lives. With this approach, we believe our clients can achieve happiness while also living their best lives.

Meaning vs Happiness

It’s easy to assume that a meaningful life is happy, and vice versa, but this isn’t always true. Happiness has more to do with having your personal needs met, such as being comfortable and having the things you want. On the other hand, meaning has to do with developing courage and resilience and making sense of the pain you have to go through. 

According to one study, here are some key differences between happiness and meaning: 

  • Finding one’s life easy or difficult is related to happiness, but not meaning
  • Feeling healthy, feeling good or having money are all related to happiness and not meaning
  • People with meaningful lives agree that relationships are more important than achievements
  • Helping others is linked to meaning, but not happiness 
  • Happiness is related to taking, whereas meaning is related to giving 

Happiness and Addiction Recovery 

Outpatient rehab requires a lot of hard work. You probably won’t feel happy in the early days of sobriety, but you will create meaning in your life. You will also have the opportunity to work through the reasons why you might not be happy. Talk therapy can help identify deep-rooted issues like trauma, abuse or poor self-esteem. Happily, deep thinking is related to both happiness and meaning.

Here are some other ways to build a life of meaning in addiction recovery

  • Remember that you can still have fun. It might look different at first, but eventually you’ll re-establish connections with others and find your passions and hobbies.
  • Stay connected to your peer network. You’ll need to make lots of changes to avoid your triggers, but listen to your support network. Some people, like your sponsor, have been through this before. 
  • Avoid toxicity in your life. Whether it’s people, places or things, try to eliminate toxicity from your life. You don’t need negative energy to bring you down. 
  • Become self-aware. Being self-aware lets you know new things to work on, so that you can make positive changes, protect yourself from relapse, and continue growing. 
  • Practice self-care. Make sure your physical and emotional needs are met. Letting these go can put you at risk for relapse. Repeat positive affirmations and try to do something nice for yourself every day. 

Start Your Recovery – and Find Your Greater Purpose – at Awakenings 

Addiction recovery is a journey filled with many ups and downs, but it’s important to stay focused on building a life of meaning and purpose. Focusing too much on happiness can actually lead you to be disappointed. There are times when you won’t be happy, and that’s okay. 

Awakenings Treatment Center is an outpatient treatment center in Agoura Hills, California. We work on healing the mind, body and spirit. Contact us today to learn more about our programs and how they can help you move toward a greater future.