The only two must-have things


By David Joel Miller.

What two things are “must haves?”

Happy child

Happy child
Photo courtesy of Flickr (Ben.Millett)

From my time as a counselor I find that there are two things, clients must have to create a happy, fulfilled life. Those two must-have things are not the things we have been led to believe are must-haves for happiness.

Whatever their challenge in life, my clients all seem to be missing two important ingredients to create a happy successful life. People who hear voices and see things and people who thought they were perfectly normal until life took a wrong turn both need those same things.

Humans as biological organisms need some minimal intakes to sustain their biology. We need some food, some water, air to breath and a small amount of clothing or shelter. Mostly though, as warm-blooded vertebrates, we adapt. Not having those things risks your health and life but having them does not automatically make you happy.

Happiness is not things.

America is blessed and cursed with an abundance of things. So many things we have to haul tons of them to the landfill each week just to keep our things from choking off our access to the remaining things and still – will all those things, we are not happy.

We live in a land of plenty and more people here suffer from excesses than from shortages. There is too much food and the result is obesity and diabetes. We have plenty of vehicles and we consume humongous quantities of energy in our pursuit of happiness and still, amid all those excesses we can’t find happiness. Americans consume the lion’s share of drugs and alcohol and still, we can’t arrive at happiness.

What then are those two things that appear vital in the creation of happiness whether you are rich or poor? Despite our unending search for therapies to help people with their depression two things consistently improve the depressed person’s mood, a healthy relationship and a purpose in life. Both of these things while simple, are harder to do than they sound.

Humans need healthy relationships.

By this, I do not necessarily mean romantic or sexual relationships, though having a close romantic partner seems to make most warm-blooded vertebrates happy.

We need a relationship with other humans and we need relationships with those higher powers most of us call God or a Deity.

It is a difficult task to have a healthy relationship when you are emotionally sick. Many people find they need to develop a healthy relationship with themselves before they can have a healthy relationship with another. Falling in love is intoxication but the stupor soon wears off and you begin to see with clear eyes that not all love relationships are healthy.

You do need a meaningful purpose in life.

For most of us, this is some form of work. We have come to recognize that many people who we used to thing were not capable of work, can despite those challenges we call disabilities, engage in meaningful work.

All work does not need to be paid employment. Having a task that brings meaning to your life gives you a reason to get up in the morning. So paid or volunteer, of someone else’s choosing or of our own, having something to do each day that aligns with a purpose or goal gives us hope and happiness.

You may not be rich but if your daily tasks have a higher purpose, doing Gods will or giving to others, you are most likely to find happiness in living those life purposes.

Finding a job is difficult sometimes. Finding a career that gives you more than just money is more complicated. The more you like your work, the more you are doing what you feel called to do the greater your happiness. No amount of money can compensate you for doing something that is not worth the effort.

We all may need to do something from time to time to pay the bills and keep the body and soul together but in the long haul we call life, those who can find a purpose and

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

then find a way to earn a living at that purpose are well along the road of happiness.

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