There might be a million quotes or more about what happiness is, how happiness feels, how to make happiness stay, why happiness goes away, and how to obtain happiness all the time. As a human kind, we are a little bit obsessed with the idea of being, feeling, and having happiness in our lives. Happiness is paramount, for good reason. Stress is not necessarily the antagonist to happiness, but most often we put stress and happiness on opposite sides of the scale. Living with a heavy and chronic amount of stress usually means we aren’t at our happiest. We do what we can to seek happiness and create a balance.
Balancing happiness with the rest of life might depend on the kind happiness we are living or seeking. Big Think writes in “Three Kinds of Happiness, and How To Achieve Them” about each kind of happiness, along with its pros and cons. Interestingly, the outline of these forms of happiness mirror the common arc of a man’s journey from addiction to recovery. Each form of happiness has a theme for addiction and recovery.
Any man who has lived with an active addiction to drugs and/or alcohol knows what it is like to live a life driven by hedonistic happiness. He also knows that as the article explains it, “seeking of pleasure while avoiding pain” is not sustainable. Eventually, a hedonistic lifestyle ceases to produce any amount of pleasure substantial enough to avoid the pain. The neurobiological model of addiction proves this to be true in the way that the brain ceases to produce dopamine. Dopamine, a chemical messenger for pleasure, is produced in surplus when drugs and alcohol are introduced to the system. A threshed for tolerance is developed and consistently needed to be surpassed. Over time, the brain is incapable of avoiding pain by producing pleasure because it loses its capacity to produce enough dopamine to create the kind of pleasure desired by other parts of the brain. Enmeshed in the process is an intricate web of past experiences, mental programming, trauma, and associations which create variety in how ‘pain’ is defined. For any man who has been addicted, he knows that in addiction, absolutely anything can become ‘pain’ which necessitates the desperate seeking of chemical substance induced pleasure.
Most often, individuals hit ‘bottom’ of the frantic seeking outside of themselves, i.e. drugs and alcohol. They experience what is called a complete transformation of perspective. Suddenly, they are struck with the humbling realization that they can learn to seek satisfying pleasure within themselves. Moreover, they can bravely walk up to pain, confront it, walk through it, and make peace with it. Which might be why so many men in recovery start seeking eudaimonic happiness as a result of their treatment, therapy, and participation in recovery support groups.
Rooted in the virtuous philosophies of stoics like Socrates and Aristotle, eudaimonic happiness “is the idea of having a worthwhile life rather than an explicitly pleasant one.” Men who come to recovery go through this momentous occasion of humility. There is more to life than drugs and alcohol, than the temporary and ever-fading pleasures of addiction. Eudaimonic happiness is focused on reason and intellectual living, emphasizing virtuosity over anything else.
Men who enter treatment and recovery learn how to make a life of meaning based on pleasures within themselves and spiritual tenets which bring satisfaction to their lives. The article makes a point about potential and how eudaimonic happiness is fulfilling that potential. Once addiction seems to be a thing of the past, men in recovery realize that their lives are full of potential. Anything seems possible without addiction getting in their way. Through treatment programs like the one we offer at Tree House Recovery, men also learn how to live their life to the fullest by engaging in immersive adventure experiences, pushing the boundaries of their physical fitness, and building the support network of a brotherhood.
For information on our programs of treatment for men’s recovery in Orange County, California, call us today: (855) 202-2138