ATCPCC 2013 – Miriam Meima on Appreciations, Happiness, and Joy

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Today we would like to share with you a video from our annual ATCPCC 2013, Addiction Treatment Centers and Professional Consortium. Here in our guest lecture video series is Miriam Meima, Executive Director of A New Path sharing about the importance of Appreciations, Happiness, and Joy. We have a transcript of the lecture for you to follow:

Appreciations can be simply acknowledging someone. It can be seeing them. It can be giving them a compliment on something that you notice about them or something that they’re wearing, anything that’s authentic or genuine. We can also do self appreciations acknowledging what we’ve accomplished and celebrating it or we can notice what we’re doing in the world that’s right. And so there’s a whole body of research that talks about all of this concept of appreciation, and so positive psychology’s one way to look at it. Appreciative inquiry is one of the modalities within positive psychology. There’s a ton of research on happiness that is all really meaningful, and I guarantee if you take a hundred people and ask them what is it they want most in life, what you’re going to hear is happy. I want to experience joy. I want to feel happy. Don’t take my word for that. Go out and ask some people, and you might hear a few people say I want money and I want love and really what’s underneath that is joy because they believe that money will lead to joy or that some sort of material possession or some sort of love can lead to happiness.

In fact, that’s somewhat true. There’s a great documentary entitled Happy that I highly recommend, and it goes into the research around happiness. And if you picture a pie chart and divide it in half, 50 percent of your happiness level – in other words, if I say I’m 90 out of 100, I’m happy, and it says, well, what is it that makes up how happy I am? Well, 50 percent of how happy I am is dictated by a set point. So we’re born, in that sense, with a set point of happiness, something that I like to call an upper limit, which is a word that I get from Gay Hendricks, and I highly recommend his book, The Big Leap.

Ten percent of happiness is dictated by circumstance, so that’s where the money, the car, the relationship comes into play. We will see a slight increase in happiness of someone who wins the lottery. We will see a slight decrease in happiness with someone that has an incredible accident, for example, someone who becomes paraplegic, but it’s temporary in both situations. They’ll both come back to their set point. So circumstances have very little impact on our sustained happiness.

Forty percent is optional activities. So that’s where our appreciation comes in. Appreciation is our opportunity to engage in life in a way that brings out what’s best and it brings our attention to what we’re really grateful for. And we can see that in all sorts of areas of the world. At A New Path, what we do is we work with men in recovery, and we help them transform their lives. Now that I’m sober, what am I going to do with myself? What does my life look like? And it’s my belief that it’s going to be nearly impossible for someone to experience sustained sobriety if they don’t love their life. It’s very difficult for an active addict or an active alcoholic to choose recovery over addiction.

So what helps in that process, which is really a daily recommitment, is to feel like life is so amazing that there’s no room for me to have addiction in my life. I can’t go out drinking tonight because tomorrow I’m going to be hung over and I’m going to miss out on my amazing morning that I usually have. And so it’s a slow process of being able to support individuals and recognizing what is it that I most love about life and how can I bring more and more and more of that into how I set myself up for success. So that’s really, in a nutshell, how appreciation honoring ourselves, honoring others, is linked up with sustained happiness and sustained sobriety.

And in closing I want to encourage anyone to reach out to me if they’re interested in learning more about what it is that I do, what it is I’m talking about or how we integrate this into our work at A New Path. So easy ways to do that is to go online, anewpath.com, and we’re located in Carbondale, Colorado. It’s also an easy Google search. My background is in business psychology, and I can talk about this for days. So to anyone who’s interested in knowing what this looks like on an individual level, please reach out to me any time.

And as an example of how we do this with our clients at A New Path, again, we work with men in engaged recovery, and we have a six-month transformational program bridging the gap between treatment and independent living. And how we integrate this concept of appreciation is we open all of our groups with who has something amazing that they accomplished this week that they want to celebrate, and we do that as a group. And we also want to make sure that we’re acknowledging any milestones along the way, and that has to do with sobriety, but it also has to do with life. When you go out there for that job interview, let’s celebrate the fact that you got the interview. Let’s not wait till you get the job to celebrate, and so as you’re celebrating more and more and integrating appreciation into your life, you’ll notice that your happiness level goes up.

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