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Monday Thoughts 10/14/2019

Monday Thoughts

“Many people think excitement is happiness…But when you are excited you are not peaceful. True happiness is based on peace.” ~~Thich Nhat Hanh, The Art of Power

“Maybe you think you’ll be entitled to more happiness later by forgoing all of it now, but it doesn’t work that way. Happiness takes as much practice as unhappiness does. It’s by living that you live more. By waiting, you wait more. Every waiting day makes your life a little less. Every lonely day makes you a little smaller. Every day you put off your life makes you less capable of living it.” ~~Ann Brashares, Sisterhood Everlasting

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy.” ~~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Statement #3
Happiness is a habit I am developing.
Happiness is created, not waited for.

Before sobriety and New Life, happiness felt elusive and fleeting, and almost always out of grasp. It was something to be captured, for safekeeping. But happiness cannot not be held down, and no amount of alcohol or substance can bring happiness to life.

Happiness comes to life through the living of life. Sobriety and Statement #3 in action enable the experience of happiness to flow from within. Initially, I had a hard time experiencing happiness in sobriety since my feelings felt flat but with time, joy began to flow.

In our WFS Program booklet, Jean writes, “Happiness never came to me until I learned the secret of making it for myself, of finding an inner glow that somehow made all other things right.” This week make happiness your daily habit and unleash joys in your life.


Hi 4C Women,

There are so many thoughts that go through my mind when I think of how creating happiness is such an individual process. We all have our personal definitions of what happiness means, how to create it, acknowledge it and retain the memory of it. In looking over some of the material I have on happiness, I am astounded at the many suggestions there are so I’d like to share a few, several that I utilize personally.

I am creating happiness for myself by thinking before speaking. I am happier without a foot in my mouth. This was from an online chat a few years back but I thought it was humorous and true!

I am happy when I let go of toxic people.


I am happy when I let go of regret and past mistakes.


I am happy when I set healthy boundaries and adhere to them, creating consequences when boundaries are crossed.


I am happy when I stop and look up at the blue sky or a beautiful sunset, observing with pure joy.


I am happy when I approach new experiences as opportunities for fun, to learn and not as possible mistakes. What a difference that makes.


Music makes me so happy and singing while no one is listening is fun too.


One of my favorite things that I have done is to make an alter of joy on my nightstand. I change it now and then but the purpose is that when I go to sleep and first thing in the morning is to see items that bring a smile to my face and heart. It is sometimes a photo, a poem, a book or knickknack that reminds me of a loved one.


Lastly, being a moderator has brought me the greatest joy of all. It is giving and receiving all wrapped up in one.


Bonded in creating our own personal happiness,
your 4C sister

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Monday Thoughts 7/15/2019

Monday Thoughts

“You can’t hate yourself happy, you can’t criticize yourself thin, you can’t shame yourself wealthy. Real change begins with self-love and self-care.” ~~Jessica Ortner

“Happiness is an inside job.” ~~William Arthur Ward

“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” ~~Jim Rohn

Statement #3
Happiness is a habit I am developing.
Happiness is created, not waited for.

Statement #3 can feel difficult to practice at times, such as when feeling overwhelmed, angry or depressed. In our WFS Program booklet Jean writes, “For many years, I was convinced that some people were just naturally happy and others were not. And most of the time, I was not happy. I was too deep into my feeling sorry for myself, waiting for the time when everything in my life would miraculously change and then instant happiness would follow. Happiness never came to me until I learned the secret of making it for myself, of finding an inner glow that somehow made all other things right.” Jean discovered that happiness was an inside job.

One of the things which helped me to create happiness and put action into Statement #3 was do the opposite of what I wanted to do. If I wanted to leave a shopping cart in the parking lot, I put it into a cart corral. If I wanted to hide in isolation, I sought out other people, even for brief conversations. Doing the opposite helped me to establish a path towards creating happiness, even if I didn’t feel it right away.

Overtime, this practice allowed me to question long held, unhealthy beliefs and change whatever wasn’t working. Self-care and self-love became a new normal instead of something to fear or invalidate. Happiness began to settle in while cause and effect became clearer. Statement #3 is a brilliant and constructive element to the WFS New Life Program.

How do you practice Statement #3?


Hi 4C Women,

Happiness, for me, comes in moments of awareness. Years ago, I visited a woman in the hospital for over a year. She was bedridden and I remember how grateful I was to have all of my six senses, especially the ability to walk out of the hospital, drive to the grocery store, pick out what I wanted for dinner or snacks, cook if I wanted to, make a phone call and if I fell asleep on the sofa, I could walk upstairs to my bedroom. Even something as simple as making a phone call or switching tv stations was on my grateful list. This dear woman had to press her cheek against a round disk and ask the operator to make calls for her and had to wait until someone came in the room to change the tv channel. Yet she still had hope and she taught me an invaluable lesson – that joy can still be found in the most challenging of circumstances. I learned what was most important to me was to understand I needed to be grounded in a foundation of peace and contentment in order to have joyful awareness. It could be a favorite song on the radio that switched me into high levels of happiness. I could dance around the room or, if in my car, do my shoulder dance! It all goes back to awareness and acceptance of feeling and deserving happy moments when they arrive.

I have been experiencing sadness and frustration due to family circumstances and recently, physical pain. All of these feelings make it challenging to keep awareness of joy within me. Yet, my experiences have taught me that it is ok because ups and downs are a part of life. As I said, it is the foundation that reminds me there are plenty of happy, joyful moments waiting for me. I just need to be aware. In fact, last night as I was going to the mailbox, I looked up and saw the most beautiful blue sky and the puffiest white clouds. I stood and watched for a couple of minutes. I felt the joy!

What are you grateful for today? What brings a smile to your face when you think of it? Most importantly, are you making time to do what you love?

Bonded in developing and being aware of happy moments,
a 4C Sister

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Hello Happiness!

Image - Hello Happiness - smiley face

I am a sober woman and I am happy! There was a time in the not too distant past when I believed those two words – sober and happy – were mutually exclusive.  How would I ever socialize without my beloved wine? How could I relax after work, without sipping my cocktail? In my pre-sober mind, alcohol and happiness were so tightly linked that their connection held me hostage. I believed that I absolutely needed to drink to be happy. It was precisely that strong association between booze and happiness that prevented me from exploring a life without alcohol.

I spent years knowing that wine was not my friend, but my alcohol dependent brain was highly adept at overriding my sensible thoughts, assuring me that sobriety was boring, and that I’d never fit in without alcohol.  Sadly, I fell for those lies. For the most part, it was fear that kept me from even considering sobriety. We tend to make blanket judgments about the unknown, and I did just that with sobriety. I knocked it because it wasn’t glamorous, tsk tsk-ing those who declined alcohol, conjuring images of them grasping their brown bag bottles. Yet for many of us, substance dependency robs us of our health, our relationships and yes, even the simple happiness of everyday life.  

But can happiness really be synonymous with sobriety? Absolutely! Some experts suggest that people in recovery are happier than their non-alcoholic peers. According to Christopher Murray, a New York-based psychotherapist, “folks in recovery have learned to manage their emotions without reaching for a substance in order to let loose.” He suggests that our recovery work has taught us how to better access our feelings, including happiness, with greater ease. I would agree.

William Berry, a Psychology Today contributor, explains that recovery leads people down growth paths they might not otherwise travel. While personal discovery, emotional growth and supportive peers are available to everyone, he asserts that we in recovery deliberately expose ourselves to more opportunities for happiness. It’s a process of our recovery, and yes ~ our lives DO depend on it!

When I stopped drinking, I chose Women for Sobriety (WFS), an organization dedicated to helping women discover happiness in recovery from substance use disorders. The WFS  New Life Program has as its foundation thirteen Acceptance Statements. Unlike a step-based program that is hierarchical in nature, these statements may be applied to recovery as they are needed.  Embracing the Statements has helped me discover my true self. I have gained so much knowledge simply by sharing experiences, hopes and encouragement with other women who are walking in my shoes. Their advice, support and compassion make a difference in my recovery every single day! WFS helps me learn behaviors that enhance my happiness and well being, while at the same time, makes me feel empowered!   

Happiness is a habit I am developing.

Happiness is created, not waited for.
Acceptance  Statement 3

One of the WFS statements tells us that Happiness is created, not waited for, suggesting that happiness is ours for the making. Some think that we are either eternally happy, or that happiness is fleeting or elusive. They believe they will find happiness when they meet the right person, land the perfect job or find their forever home.  The New Life Program suggests that happiness springs from inner peace and contentment. It comes from within us ~ happiness becomes ours as we nurture it. Once I realized this, I decided that I wouldn’t wait for happiness to find me!  

I’ve discovered a new kind of happiness on my sober journey. Sometimes I experience happiness that is as sharp and crisp as the brightness of the sky on a cold winter morning, or the brilliance of the sun sparkling off freshly fallen snow. Happiness might also be cozy and soothing, like the easy smile that lights up my colleague’s face when I greet her in the morning, or the warmth of a familiar hug as I welcome an old friend. I find happiness in ordinary things like freshly laundered sheets or a hearty cup of homemade soup. I am mindful of happiness in everyday occurrences ~ waking with energy and anticipation to face the day ahead or simply appreciating the scent of freshly brewed coffee. Don’t even get me started about snuggling with my old pup!

The best happy moments are those that catch me unaware ~ like glimpsing a group of toddlers during story hour, or busting some killer moves on the dance floor ~ without a drop of social lubricant. I’m actually a much better dancer sober! There’s some subtlety in my newfound happiness, as if it’s always been there, but now I am the new addition to the equation. All of a sudden, I’m an active participant in my own life, gratefully aware of my happy surroundings. My body is happy, too ~ feeling the satisfying tension in my muscles after a great workout, or sensing the rhythmic pulse of my heartbeat while meditating.  I’m content and comfortable with the person I’m becoming. My sober happiness is normal, yet extraordinary!

If you’re a woman who suspects that you have a substance use disorder, but you worry that you won’t lead a happy life without alcohol or other substances, I hope I’ve given you something to consider. Recovery and happiness don’t live in separate hemispheres; in fact, it’s the genuine happiness I’ve come to know through my recovery that has fortified my sobriety. Yes, I’m sober, but I’m anything but somber! I encourage you to check out the WFS New Life Program!  Be assured that happiness is a habit you can develop!

This is the first in a new blog series sponsored by Women for Sobriety (WFS).  Your thoughts and ideas are important to us, so please take a moment to comment on this post.  What are some examples of happiness that you have discovered in your recovery?

Stay tuned for our next blog post to be submitted by another sober sister from Women for Sobriety.  

If there is a specific topic you would like to read about, please let us know!

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Monday Thoughts 1/14/2019

Monday Thoughts

“Happiness is acceptance.” ~~unknown

“One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.” ~~Rita Mae Brown

“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” ~~Oprah Winfrey

Statement #3
Happiness is a habit I am developing.
Happiness is created, not waited for.

In our Program booklet, our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. states, “Happiness never came to me until I learned the secret of making it for myself, of finding an inner glow that somehow made all other things right.”  Jean understood happiness was brought forth from within and created Statement #3 to shift thoughts of self-pity into self-contentment.

Here are 4 ways which can aid in creating happiness:

  1. Define what happiness means for you: In early sobriety, emotions can feel flat or difficult to name. Take a look back, what made your insides smile when you were younger? What made your heart sing?
  2. Let go of comparisons: Comparison kills the spirit, and squashes confidence. Comparing also puts your happiness in the hands of someone else. Instead of comparing, list your achievements and review them often.
  3. Recharge: Find ways to recharge yourself. Unplug the phone, TV, internet. Make yourself a priority, take a walk in the woods or connect with water. There is something uplifting about being in nature.
  4. Invest in yourself: Develop a meditative, journal or yoga routine, learn tai chi or karate, invest in your being. Dedication to inner and outer growth is an investment in the self.

What actions help you to create happiness in your life?


Hi 4C Women,

My definition of happiness changes as my life changes, as I age, as I experience new adventures and even loss. Now that last one might seem at odds with happiness yet I guess I can compare it to new sobriety when I felt I would never laugh or feel excited about life without alcohol to foster that feeling. When my mother passed away, all I felt was sadness and grief. I still miss her terribly and yet I am beginning to feel a smile cross my face when I reflect on our shared moments in life. I can look at photos and be grateful for the lessons she taught me without her knowledge. I had been sober for a while when she passed and I felt her whispering in my ear how proud she was of me and to keep my emotional and spiritual changes in tact to honor her. I have and that makes me happy. It’s amazing what unexpected places happiness and joy can grow from.

When it comes to practicing Karen’s #4 suggestion, I would like to add to do what you love. Practically speaking, we may not have the job we love yet we can bring joy into our lives with a creative talent, volunteer work, hobbies, dance lessons, joining a book club or any number of things that bring a new adventure into our everyday life.

Lastly, be patient with yourself as you work on developing the habit of happiness. It took a while to trade in my habit of negativity to allow the glimmer of that happiness to make its way into my thinking and life. I’m glad I didn’t give up because when tough times hit, I know I have a foundation of joy to hold me up.

Bonded in creating our own happiness,
4C WFS Member

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Monday Thoughts 10/15/18

Monday Thoughts

“Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have.” ~~Unknown

“If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never be fulfilled. If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself. Be content with what you have, rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the world belongs to you.” ~~Lao Tzu

“Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” ~~Margaret Lee Runbeck

Statement #3
 Happiness is a habit I am developing.
Happiness is created not waited for.

Inserting the word “contentment” into Statement #3 when happiness does not appear to fit into daily life can create a bridge to fulfillment. It can be difficult and unrealistic to feel “happy” when going through extreme feelings of loss; much like when moving through overwhelming grief or anguish. By inserting the word “contentment”, this Statement can foster stability rather than trying to achieve a by-product of something else much like through alcohol, relationships or material substances.

In the past, my feelings of happiness (as well as self-worth) were attached to being in a romantic relationship. Unable to distinguish happiness separately while unskilled at how to release myself from unhealthy relationships, I lost my identity and the ability to feel joy or contentment. With happiness attached to someone/thing outside, it was impossible to create inner joy. Feeling emotionally chained, alcohol became a quick and repetitive attempt to cut away distress. It never worked.

Embracing the empowering WFS Program and Statements, it is possible to feel contentment, even while moving through unease. Yet, when my father passed away a few years ago, the feelings of grief and sadness felt overwhelming. Surprisingly, it was the continued practice of Statement #3 that helped create a foundation of ease and contentment so that I could manage the intense emotions. Instead of diving into a deep despair, I felt strong footing underneath and moved through the feelings, content in the knowledge that I could understand the process and let go. This felt so much more comfortable and I was better able to shift towards contentment and absolute joy for his life.

Here are 4 examples for creating contentment:

  1. Gratitude Journal
    Even one entry per day can set the mind to focusing on the have’s instead of have not’s.
  2. Measure Yourself with Your Own Yardstick
    We have no idea what it took for someone to be where they are; it is unrealistic to compare ourselves to another. Be gentle and measure yourself with your own yardstick.
  3. Embrace Change
    Everything is impermanent, valuing and embracing change can lead to feelings of ease, happiness and contentment.
  4. Mindfulness
    Consciousness in activities and/or choices can bring feelings of contentment. Multi-tasking can complicate life.


Hi 4C Women,

I agree with Karen that just changing a word can help us better understand and practice Statement #3 and make it work for us. I always like to add, happy “MOMENTS” are created not waited for. It is the awareness of those moments that creates the joy and memory. My foundation became peace in knowing that while there are troubling, painful times in our lives, they will not last forever. Years ago, I clung to the painful times as though there would never be an end. Perhaps it had to do with my blaming others for my circumstances and being the victim felt comfortable and kept me from accepting any responsibility for my life. If happiness happened, it was because I was drinking or it was a fluke. When I first read this Statement, I was taken aback. What do you mean, happiness is created, not waited for? Great! I not only had to work on my sobriety, now I had to create my own happiness? I am here to tell you that truer words have never been spoken. Once I let go of my victim role, I embraced change as Karen suggested above and I began to build that foundation of peace. That foundation opened the door to accepting responsibility, exploring new opportunities and especially being brutally honest with myself about the burden I had placed on others to make me happy. It also helped me move through loss, hurt and enormous pain. It was challenging yet it kept me centered and I had the support of friends and the 4C women in WFS. When I am hurt or confused, it is the knowledge that I am not alone and can express my concerns without judgment. I am so grateful because even with my foundation of peace, I need the support, input and insight from those who understand.

Over the years, I have had several exercises regarding Statement #3. Here are few questions.

What gives you the greatest joy?
When was the last time you felt that joy?
What brings a smile to your face when you think of it?
What new or different paths have you taken to create happiness?
Have you explored a new hobby or gone back to the one that you previously enjoyed?
What inspires you?
When is the last time you treated yourself?
When is the last time you played your favorite music and danced with joy?
I feel happy when_________________.

Please consider any or all of the 4 examples that Karen gave toward building your foundation of contentment, peace or joy. I hope you will find time as well to answer some of the questions I posed and perhaps share them with someone you trust, in a f2f group or online.

Bonded in developing a habit of happiness,
4C WFS Member