5 Steps to Happiness

The last three decades have seen many studies and much reporting on the topic of happiness. What does it mean to be happy and how do we get there?

Happiness has become a specialization, with many academically rooted experts chiming in on the topic through books, articles, and appearances at TED and on TV.

I got sober at the perfect time to track this topic, and want to share what I learned.

It may not look like it, but, I’m a pretty happy guy. So, hopefully, I’m sharing my experience here, not just my opinion. If you ask me, I will tell you that I am a generally happy person.

There are dozens of publications with lists of “things to do” to be happy. My favorite of these lists comes from philanthropist Ray Chambers with his “Five Keys to Happiness.” I admire its simplicity and directness.

They are:

  • Live in the Moment.
  • It’s better to be loving than to be right.
  • Be a spectator to your thoughts, especially when you get emotional.
  • Be grateful for at least one thing every day.
  • Help others every chance you get.

I think its fascinating how closely these ideas mirror ideas found in AA. Hopefully, the context I provide below is obvious to all.

  • “One day at a time.”
  • “You wanna be right, or you wanna be happy?”
  • “Pause when agitated.”
  • “You’re sober today because you were grateful yesterday!”
  • Step 12

Finally, I have found that longer-term happiness requires a few extra areas of focus that go beyond the Ray Chambers list if you want to achieve a longer-term benefit. These are:

  • Exercise
  • Work
  • Putting energy into maintaining relationships.

As beautiful as all these lists and ideas are, without first putting down the drink and working the steps, nothing will happen along these lines. Happiness to the drunk was fleeting and plans like these always failed.

First things first. Get sober.

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