‘A Point of View: Happiness and disability’ by Tom Shakespeare

_75063338_promo-largeFound this interesting article on the BBC website.

Surveys reveal that people with disabilities consistently report a good quality of life, says Tom Shakespeare. So why is it often assumed they are unhappy?

Have you ever thought to yourself: “I’d rather be dead than disabled?” It’s not an unusual reflection. Disability, in everyday thought, is associated with failure, with dependency and with not being able to do things. We feel sorry for disabled people, because we imagine it must be miserable to be disabled.

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Favourite Blogs: Research shows the dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network

2007_0116walpole0146Here’s one of my own blogs from WITR, written in January 2009, not long after the launch of the website.

‘Last week, the British Medical Journal published a very interesting article on the Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network. This high quality research involved a longitudinal analysis over 20 years of participants in a long-term health study in America (the Framingham Heart Study, see at end of Blog for further details].

The research involved 12,067 individuals who were connected to someone else in this population at some point between 1971 and 2003. Researchers measured happiness by a questionnaire and conducted a complicated statistical analysis of the relationships between people in this large social network.

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GUEST BLOGGER: Beth Burgess and ‘Can You be Grateful For Your Addiction?’

london recovery coach.jpgIn order to recover, alcoholics and addicts first have to go through the painful process of admitting their problem. Then comes the challenge of accepting the situation and doing the work to recover. But can you actually get to the point where you’re happy to be an addict? Where you appreciate what your addiction has given you and you actually enjoy your path in life?

I like being an alcoholic. Truly, I do. It’s an unusual position to take, I admit – but one that serves me well. I’m so happy, I even wrote a book about it. Let me tell you how I came to reach this point – and was able to write The Happy Addict to help others find the happiness that I already have.

The fact is that I spent a lot of my life fighting reality. I drank to escape, to numb, to hide and to retreat from the world. At the end of my drinking, there was nothing I could do to fight reality any more. My addiction was something I couldn’t deny or hide from any longer. The fact that alcohol was now betraying me was clear to me and everyone around me. My attempts at controlling my drinking had all failed and my chances of living through another withdrawal were pretty slim.

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Helping You Gain a Better Life

Here are some resources that can help you lead a happier, healthier and more positive life.

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The GreaterGood website

Unknown-2The GreaterGood website from Berkeley University is well worth spending some time on. Here is what they say in the About section:

‘The Greater Good Science Center studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society.

Based at the University of California, Berkeley, the GGSC is unique in its commitment to both science and practice: not only do we sponsor groundbreaking scientific research into social and emotional well-being, we help people apply this research to their personal and professional lives.

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75 Years In The Making: Harvard Just Released Its Epic Study On What Men Need To Live A Happy Life

rsz_harvardhappinessCouldn’t resist putting up this article from FEELguide, which focuses on one of the longest ever research studies. George Vaillant, who directed the study for more than three decades, has some seminal writings on alcoholism, including his book which is well worth reading.

‘In 1938 Harvard University began following 268 male undergraduate students and kicked off the longest-running longitudinal studies of human development in history.  The study’s goal was to determine as best as possible what factors contribute most strongly to human flourishing. 

The astonishing range of psychological, anthropological, and physical traits — ranging from personality type to IQ to drinking habits to family relationships to “hanging length of his scrotum” – indicates just how exhaustive and quantifiable the research data has become. 

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‘New Life Acceptance’ by Matt Kay

Manchester-Art-and-Culture-getawayHere’s another old blog from WITR blogger Matt Kay, this one from April 2012.

‘I’ve not been on here for absolutely ages but I’m still living the dream. I made it to two years clean and sober (Aprils Fools Day too!) Just thought I’d share this with you… it’s called “New Life Acceptance”, hence the title.
 
1. I have a life-threatening problem that once had me. I now take charge of my life and my addiction. I accept the responsibility.

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The 4th UK Recovery Walk Film

The 5th UK Recovery Walk takes place on 22nd September, 2013 in Birmingham. Hope you folks in UK can make it.

Here’s the film from the 4th UK Recovery Walk in Brighton. Inspirational. Well done all involved in the making of this film.

Book Review: ‘The Happy Addict: How to be Happy in Recovery from Alcohol or Drug Addiction’ by Beth Burgess

41+RPl0IiaL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX342_SY445_CR,0,0,342,445_SH20_OU02_We’ve heard quite a bit from Beth Burgess on this website. The reason for this is quite simple. Beth is always busy. Last week, I included her column from the Huffington Post, this week a review of her latest book from the website Drug Addiction Treatment.

‘It sounds like an oxymoron, The Happy Addict. How can an addict be happy, right? Leave it to a clever marketer to come up with a catchy title like this, one that literally draws the reader in. That is, if the reader has an interest in learning how it is humanly possible to be “happy” in recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction.

But, wait, that’s the rest of the title of this no-nonsense, witty and well-written book by Beth Burgess: The Happy Addict: How to Be Happy in Recovery from Alcoholism or Drug Addiction.

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‘Life is an amazing gift’ by Wee Willie Winkie

P4071127‘Life is such an amazing gift. I wake up every single morning with a huge smile on my face. I open my door as I put the kettle on and take a deep breath of air. This feeling never gets old and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

I’m not waking up with the immediate thoughts of heroin, or having to go to work to do a job I didn’t choose because I liked it – it was all about flexible hours and good money. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by drugs.

Life is so simple for me now, it doesn’t matter what happens. I look back on my past – the homelessness, the overdosing, my attempted suicide and think, “If I can survive that, I can survive anything.” So I never get depressed or down about things. It’s fantastic.

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Jay’s Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) Course

Here is a fantastic internet-based MIndfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) course developed by Jay Uhdinger, along with an illustrator friend.

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‘Five things to make you happier in recovery’ by Peapod

“Helping others is not only good for them and a good thing to do, it also makes us happier and healthier too. Giving also connects us to others, creating stronger communities and helping to build a happier society for everyone.”

“Helping others is not only good for them and a good thing to do, it also makes us happier and healthier too. Giving also connects us to others, creating stronger communities and helping to build a happier society for everyone.”

Happiness has become a science. You can study happiness and researchers have taken a look at the things that make us happy; they have surprisingly little to do with money.

So much so that some governments are looking at moving away from measuring success by focusing so much on gross domestic product (GDP).

A new initiative called Action for Happiness has suggested ten keys for happier living. There’s not much to argue about there.

I thought, how could you distil, blend and adapt these for recovery? Here’s my attempt:

1. We are happier when we relate to other people So get connected to recovery communities. Find the local mutual aid groups in your town or city – groups like AA, NA, CA and SMART and get involved. The research says that the more involved you get the better the quality of your recovery and the less likely you are to relapse.

Spend quality time with family and friends too.

2. We are happier when we help other people Action for Happiness says this on their website:

Helping others is not only good for them and a good thing to do, it also makes us happier and healthier too. Giving also connects us to others, creating stronger communities and helping to build a happier society for everyone.

And it’s not all about money – we can also give our time, ideas and energy. So if you want to feel good, do good!’

My suggestion: help someone at the start of their recovery journey by supporting and encouraging them, or help out a recovering friend who is having a hard time.

3. We are happier when we connect to things greater than ourselves Finding purpose and meaning in life is important to us. I can’t put it better than Action for Happiness does:

‘People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression.

But where do we find ‘meaning and purpose’. It might be our religious faith, being a parent or doing a job that makes a difference. The answers vary for each of us but they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves.’

So the science backs up finding a power greater than ourselves, though of course this does not need to be a religious power, just something that is outside of us.

What gives you meaning in your recovery?

4. We are happier when we find self-acceptance We spend a lot of time comparing ourselves with others and worrying about how we appear, what we say and how others perceive us. Wasted energy. Being gentle and kind to ourselves leads to more happiness.

Many of us are tortured by shame and guilt and self-doubt in addiction. Recovery is about letting go of that, being our own best friend and being grateful for who we are and what we have.

Being more comfortable in our own skin also helps us to accept others, warts and all.

5. We are happier when we have a positive attitude

More from Action for Happiness:

‘Positive emotions – like joy, gratitude, contentment, inspiration, and pride – are not just great at the time. Recent research shows that regularly experiencing them creates an ‘upward spiral’, helping to build our resources.

So although we need to be realistic about life’s ups and downs, it helps to focus on the good aspects of any situation – the glass half full rather than the glass half empty.’

In the 12-step programme, sponsors will often ask those they are working with to write a ‘gratitude list’ of things they are grateful with in life.

The language of recovery is a positive language and focusing on what’s going well in recovery rather than what’s not will lift us up.

Finishing on a positive Given the thrust of the blog, it seems appropriate to end with a suitable anecdote, which may or may not bring a smile to the lips. The most delicate-natured readers should go no further. This is a true story:

‘President de Gaulle decides to retire from public life and the American Ambassador and his wife put on a grand social function in his honour to mark the occasion.

All the appropriate dignitaries are invited to the ball and dinner. At the dinner table the Ambassador’s wife is placed next to Mm. de Gaulle and they exchange pleasantries between courses

“Your husband has been such a prominent public figure, such a presence on the French and International scene for so many years,” says the Ambassador’s wife. “How quiet retirement will seem in comparison. What are you most looking forward to in these retirement years?”

“Oh, that’s very straightforward… a penis,” Madame De Gaulle replies.

The Ambassador’s wife arches an eyebrow and looks at her cutlery for a long moment. A hush descends over the table. All the assembled dignitaries have heard her answer and no one knows quite what to say next.

“What did you say again?” the Ambassador’s wife eventually pipes up.

“A penis.”

Finally, De Gaulle leans over to his wife and puts everyone out of their misery: “Ma cherie! I believe zee Americans pronounce zat word, appiness.”’

PDF document >

Research shows the dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network

2007_0116walpole0146Here’s one of my own blogs from WITR, written in January 2009, not long after the launch of the website.

‘Last week, the British Medical Journal published a very interesting article on the Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network. This high quality research involved a longitudinal analysis over 20 years of participants in a long-term health study in America (the Framingham Heart Study, see at end of Blog for further details].

The research involved 12,067 individuals who were connected to someone else in this population at some point between 1971 and 2003. Researchers measured happiness by a questionnaire and conducted a complicated statistical analysis of the relationships between people in this large social network.

Read More ➔