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Finding Purpose in Recovery

Issue 21

It’s all about a personal dedication to a cause

Finding purpose is one of the most important aspects of finding peace, contentment and well-being.

Purpose and meaning are essential parts of “the good life.”

Purpose is especially important when it comes to dealing with challenges and suffering in life. We know that bad things can happen to good people. We know that it is impossible to avoid suffering—it is part of life.

How do we make sense of this reality? Having purpose and meaning in one’s life can make a huge difference. Purpose provides us with a compass to navigate our way through the difficult times.

In Man’s Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankl articulated the benefits of striving to find purpose and meaning in the following way:

“For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.”

Happiness, or subjective wellbeing, is the result of striving to fulfill your purpose. Most people will not experience more “happiness” simply by attaining a goal. Or gaining a new and shiny possession. Rather, it’s experienced by striving to live within your purpose. The increased happiness is a side effect of working within one’s purpose. Or better yet, having meaning in your life.

It is important to note: Purpose is NOT always obvious. When we think about finding meaning and purpose we tend to focus on stereotypical “made for TV” pursuits—saving-the-world type stuff. In our mind’s eye, we envision some type of dramatic and noteworthy pursuit.

Purpose and meaning are more likely found in the everyday drudgery of our life. It’s parents who work to put food on the table and sacrifice daily for their children. It’s the employee who puts in time over the course of the week and volunteers at church on the weekends.

Purpose and meaning positively impact our day to day lives, improving our spirit and enhancing quality of life across the board. However, purpose and meaning are also essential for our understanding of suffering.

Making meaning in the middle of suffering is one of the most effective ways to walk through terrible circumstances and sometimes finding purpose makes it possible to function in the face of unacceptable outcomes.

In recovery, a sense of purpose is readily available for all of us —captured in the popular slogan “you have to give it away to keep it.”

The sense of service to others can carry the day. Our commitment to helping others fills that void.

We have a built-in opportunity to focus beyond our own needs. This service commitment is essential for happiness and subjective well-being.

Rich Jones
Rich Jones
Rich Jones, MA, MBA, LCAS, CCS, CEAP, SAP, c-EMDR, is an experienced therapist, clinician, and health care entrepreneur operating primarily in the behavioral health space. He is in long-term recovery from an opioid use/alcohol use disorder and a certified peer support specialist. He is passionate about providing quality care and supporting people in need. Rich is the EVP and Executive Director of Heritage CARES, a division of Heritage Health Solutions.

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