Sharing the happiness - One man's rehab story and how happiness helped

Livability’s Happiness Course has been accessed by people across the country. Often run at churches and other community venues, the course explores life, wellbeing and all things ‘happiness’. Chris is one person that has found the course beneficial and shares his story. Names have been changed, but the story is real.

I heard that the rehab I was staying in was running The Happiness Course. I was encouraged to try it but it if it did not feel right or helpful to me then I did not have to attend the following week.

For the first session there were 10 of us in the group, we were all male and wondering what we were going to learn about happiness, especially as we were all in rehab due to drug and alcohol addiction. I had NO idea what the course was going to be about, but I was really open-minded.

I bonded with everyone on the course as we were all in rehab together. I had more of a connection with certain people but I think that’s quite normal in life. I was surprised at how open and honest the course leader was. I think she lead the way for the group being just as open and honest. She encouraged us to team up with someone we hadn’t spent much time with to do the exercises. I was shocked to hear how others had lived their lives and it made me far more compassionate towards them.

This course was perfect timing with where I was at in my life. I had relapsed the weekend before the course started and I made a link; a light-bulb moment. The first session was about different types of happiness, I saw how I was always looking outside of myself to fill my inner spirit. My relapse had been a combination of not being honest about fixing myself using other ways; through relationships, buying clothes, excessively working out at the gym – basically pleasure- seeking. I felt really lucky to have been accepted back by the rehab and to see the correlation of my relapse and the need for external stuff in my life.

In the course I openly shared this with the group and I was surprised to hear that a number of other people had done the same. We talked about pursuing outside/external things to fix the inside but I learned that actually that stuff doesn’t complete me, it takes me away from connecting with others and I stop being honest. I saw then and there that I needed to let go of trying to control the external and to start looking within and being honest with my peers about what is going on for me.

The course has really helped me to forgive some people in my life. I was always busy blaming others for my addictive ways but I see that now this is crazy. I need to take responsibility for where I am at in my life today. I have far more compassion and understanding for others. Before I was always thinking about myself but now I can see that when I think more about others and how I can help them, I feel happier within.

A large percentage of the group shared stories about seeking material possessions to help them be happy but I was shocked to hear that most said that at these times they were unhappy and always unfulfilled – the high of getting something new only lasted for about 5 seconds. When we shared about our happiest times, most people talked about giving birth; achieving something; being able to help someone else or a fond childhood memory. Someone did mention when they brought a house but it was because they had worked and saved really hard.

I can say that absolutely, one hundred per cent, my views on happiness and fulfillment were changed massively by the course. I set some healthy goals which included how I could expand my business to help others. I can really see how empty my life was, this is why I used alcohol to get that lift. I felt like I was always running away and the answers were in a bottle. The more I had, the more miserable I felt. I had fallen out with so many people and I blamed them. I was a victim of life and my addiction. Today I see that I have choice, I can choose to be happy and grateful today.

I loved the fact that each week we had a workbook and that the course leader gave us a cool happiness bag to keep all our workbooks in. I am going to use these regularly to reflect back on. I really enjoyed the YouTube videos and I will go back to them when I am feeling low, especially the one about the athlete whose dad helps him to the finish line, since this reminds me that no matter how tough life gets to never ever give up. The course leader spoke about how precious life is and how as long as we can keep turning up for life and putting one foot in front of the other, we will be OK. I believe this to be true and today I have so much hope for my future.

I am back in touch with an older brother as a result of this course. We have a long way to go as I treated him badly but he can see that I am really trying. I can see how selfish I was in my addiction so staying sober is important, it’s my way of showing my family that I am sorry and I will do whatever I can to put it right.

I would recommend this course to everyone and anyone but particularly those of us in rehab. This is by far my favourite workshop in rehab and has given me something to look forward to each week. I am surprised at how much I opened up and shared and I think this is because it felt like such a safe space with no judgement. It helped that the course leader wasn’t a key worker at the rehab as the energy of the group was really different, I feel there was a different level of honesty and understanding.

Thank you so much for bringing the Happiness Course to me.