Are you tired of going to Alcoholics Anonymous? Are you exhausted by endless therapy as a means to overcome your addictions? Are you ready to move past the pattern of going to alcohol and drug rehabs? If so, you may need to find your personal purpose as a means to grow past the 12 step nightmare:

Living a life of purpose may not be immediately pleasurable, nor is it always easy and comfortable. But having a purpose does guarantee positive personal development and sustainable stability. Purpose is the foundation of a positive human experience. The Buddhists have a saying, “Life is duty; duty is happiness.” As individuals grow and come to understand that pleasures are fleeting, there is a natural tendency to search for greater personal purpose. This self-examination usually happens during adolescence and early adulthood. However, some people focus on pleasure with all their resources, only to find emptiness and a need for newer more intense pleasures to take the place of the previous faded versions. Pleasure is not the cake of life; it is the frosting on the cake of purpose. Without purpose, people are left with a bottomless bowl of candy to eat, the first piece of which is the only real satisfying one.

As you embark on your quest for personal positive change, sobriety and/or moderation, we hope you will look for a greater purpose as the foundation of happiness. Please understand, we are not opposed to pleasure, and as a matter of fact, pleasure is one of the intrinsic values of life. But, it only goes so far if it isn’t accompanied by a greater sense of sustainability.

We live in a society that sends the message that happiness is for others, the glamorous, the rich, but that average people have to be serious and toil in a life that is perpetually difficult.

An early guest at the St. Jude Retreat once explained, “As a child, I was taught that life is a struggle. If you endure enough strife, and prove to God that you too are willing to bear the cross of life’s hardships, you will get a ticket to heaven when it’s all over. I now know that, yes, there are natural human challenges and even tragedies in life, but I also learned as I grew older and met successful people that happiness and fulfillment are the driving motivations that endure rather than the fear based nonsense I grew up with.”

Building a positive quality of life demands work. Those who believe in a passive existence think that theirs is the easy life, in which they have little control over circumstances. Paradoxically this results in a very difficult life. Nothing is free. You cannot eat without earning the food you need to survive. Even the homeless must work. They need to find shelter and they need to find the soup kitchens to survive. One must ask why not take all that effort and put it into productive living that has a much greater return on investment. Purpose drives that kind of motivation.

Everyone faces challenges, and is forced to adapt to life’s continuing changing landscape. Sickness and human tragedy exist as part of life, but most people plan and overcome adversity, rather than succumbing to it.

In an international study of forty countries, citizens were polled regarding their respective levels of life satisfaction. In countries where the gross national income per person was above $8,000.00 the happiness level of its citizens did not vary more than 2 points (on a scale of 1 to 10.) This tells us something about people and what makes them happy. Those who were in less affluent countries such as Brazil and Chile, but still over the $8,000.00 per person level, reported results similar to those from more affluent nations, such as the United States, Denmark, and Switzerland. It is clear then that satisfaction is not always dependent on money or even political circumstances, but rather on how people react to economic and political circumstances. (Seligman, 2002)

The study also demonstrated that even in countries considered oppressive, the citizens were able to make the best of it and responded to the poll as quite satisfied when compared to more liberated countries. Interestingly, the countries with the lowest financial resources, lower than $8,000.00, did not end up lowest on the scale of life satisfaction. One of the poorest nations, Nigeria, was within 1.77 points of the highest ranked, Switzerland, for life satisfaction. Paradoxically, Japan, one of the highest financially ranked countries in the world was .06 points less than Nigeria! Life satisfaction it seems is based on cultural and personal belief systems, not on circumstances many of which may be out of your direct control. With this said, it is important to look at how you react to the world around you and also why you think the way you do.

Influencing a child’s mind with guilt and a belief that happiness can only be achieved through pain is likely to produce an adult who will attach anything positive to something equally emotionally painful e.g. marriages filled with bright moments, but equally shot through with painful arguments; or careers with promising beginnings stifled by self-sabotaging poor performance. How many people in the world believe they should live in emotional pain because that’s what they were taught? Why do people accept pain as normal? It is because they believe in it. They believe that is what they deserve. If you struggle with this belief, it is time to put these self-images to rest and demand more from life. Do not be one who believes unhappiness is the norm. Become someone who believes in your power to create happiness in your life and in the lives of others.

The guest mentioned earlier stated, “After I was told that life is a struggle, I spent the next 6 years hating God, hating religion, and needlessly trying to buck the system by proving that living by instant gratification had to be better than any crosses I was supposed to bear. As I grew older and wiser I met enough good people in my small world that I learned that living as a bitter lonesome kid with a chip on my shoulder was painful. So I chose a better path. I saw that I did not have to live with guilt, nor did I have to be a slave to instant gratification. I could choose to be responsible for my own happiness and I could choose to work hard for my happiness. And, I discovered that merely the act of working for happiness, created it. I accepted these values, and like billions across the planet, found satisfaction in my daily routines. I had accepted that “Life is duty, and duty is happiness.” This one statement brought my life out of the cellar. I was further encouraged by the idea that I get to pick the duty.”

By allowing yourself to let go of guild and dream, you can decide to be happy. If you struggle with guilt because of a traditional religious upbringing, or if your Faith is important to you but you still struggle with guilt, think about this: God created you so He could experience happiness through you. If you are not a believer in God, simply believe in happiness over misery. Dedicate yourself to finding happiness in your life by bringing it to others. Isn’t it much more pleasant to feel good than to feel bad? Isn’t that what you want for yourself and your family?

People have emotional gauges within them. Your happiness gauge measures how close you are to recognizing the personal strength within you and how well you are using your natural talents. Each person has certain mental and physical attributes. These should be used to build the person you would like to become. Use these talents to pursue your purpose in life, to create, in whatever form you see fit, anything that betters you and those around you. Aren’t you worth giving yourself the best? By giving yourself this gift, you can share that benefit, making others feel just as valuable and loved.

Some people believe in a grand plan or destiny and at times they find comfort in this, but other times the concept can be crippling. The truth is there is no grand plan; you get to write the script. You are the author and director of your own life. Whether you believe your abilities are from God or just happened, it is completely up to you to use them as you see fit. That is the beauty of free will.