How healthy is your pie of life?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Life pie

Healthy Pie of Life.
Photo courtesy of

A healthy, balanced life is made up of many “slices” they all need to be healthy.

Recovery programs, whether they are mental health or substance use programs, frequently have clients fill out a form sometimes called a “pie of life” or a “grapefruit diagram.”

Your life is made up of many separate components. Each of these portions needs to be in balance for you to have a healthy emotional life. Periodically, it is useful to look at each of these life domains and see which require improvement.

Social Relationships support good mental health.

One of the four criteria for diagnosing a problem as a mental illness is when it interferes with your ability to have healthy relationships. These relationships can be primary sexual relationships, or they might be family or friends. The problems involved in getting together and breaking up bring a lot of people to counseling so do conflicts with relatives. Today, in America, more than fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce, and there are lots of families who are not speaking to each other.

One reason for the high divorce rate is a failure to develop and maintain a good couple’s relationship. In the early stages of a couple’s relationship, loneliness and sexual urges drive people together. Failure to develop deep friendship dooms many couple’s relationships.

Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, humans need support from other people. Failure to develop social skills can impair your mental health. People in early recovery are encouraged to work on their friend making skills and to develop a support system of at least five friends, where possible family members may meet that need.

Another part of social relationships is your relationship to society in general. Dealing with legal issues, staying inside the law, is a part of recovery. Ask yourself how healthy is your relationship to society in general.

Work and meaning impact your emotional health.

Work provides more than just economic advantages. People who enjoy what they do each day are more mentally healthy. Work Burnout is a major source of emotional distress. People who feel that what they do for a living makes a difference are more emotionally stable.

Beyond simply working for the money, finding meaning and purpose in life will positively affect your mental health.

Your physical world impacts your emotional health.

Part of having a happy, healthy, and successful life is getting your body and physical environment into the best shape possible. Many people face serious physical and environmental challenges. Making the best of the situation you’re in can help to bring your life into emotional balance.

Manage your physical health to maximize your emotional health and your recovery. Good physical health starts with getting adequate sleep. You don’t have to become a healthy diet fanatic to eat a healthier diet. Make small changes and maintain them. Eat more healthy items and reduce the amount of the unhealthy foods you consume.

Get some physical activity each day. Exercise is an important part of keeping your body healthy, and a healthy body has a positive effect on your emotional health. Even people with significant physical disabilities can still find ways to improve physical activity. People who are bedridden can be given physical exercises which they can do in bed. Talk with your medical doctor about ways you can increase your physical activity. Stand if you can, walk more each day when possible. Whatever you do, don’t give up. Each day, strive to take the best care of your body possible and your physical health will help care for your mental health.

Safety and security are also parts of caring for your physical health. If you’re in a dangerous situation, work on making it safer. Whatever you can do to make the place you stay feel comfortable and safe will improve your emotional health.

Intellectual growth encourages emotional growth.

A day where you don’t learn something new is a wasted day. Pursue hobbies, read books and take classes whenever possible. If your mental illness or substance use disorder interfered with your education get back on track. Part of recovery is learning new things. Continue to challenge yourself.

Spiritual and religious practices support recovery.

Part of the process of growing up is deciding what you believe. If you have a religious or spiritual tradition, be sure you are following it. People with strong beliefs and a commitment to follow those beliefs find their faith will support their mental health. Be careful about falling into the need to make everyone else follow your religion. If you’re comfortable in your own faith, you are less likely to need to force others to agree with you.

Emotional and Psychological health, thinking, feeling, behaving.

Make friends with your feelings; they are valuable sources of information. Learn to regulate your emotions rather than letting them control you. If you have recurring thoughts or feelings that are causing your life to stay out of balance get professional help. If your behavior frequently brings you into conflict with others study anger management.

Financial health supports emotional health.

How much money you make, or how much you have, does not determine your financial health. When you are trying to get by on a very small income, it can be a struggle. But having lots of money does not guarantee emotional health. It’s possible to have a happy life despite having a very small income. Some very miserable people live in mansions.

The secret to financial health is to spend less than your income. What makes people unhappy is the gap between what they have and what they want. A large part of the world now owes more than they own. The fastest way to become financially unhealthy is to spend beyond your income and finance that gap on short-term credit card debt.

Part of your recovery may well be getting your financial life in order. Look for ways to increase your income. Invest in yourself by getting more education or job training. Look for ways to reduce your spending. Start a beginners savings account and then begin paying off your debts.

The downturn in 2008 resulted in a lot of people having to do some drastic belt-tightening. One lesson many learned was that when forced to do so they could live on a lot less income than they previously thought possible. For maximum financial health get your finances in order as soon as possible and don’t wait for a crisis to begin paying off bills and saving for a rainy day.

Some of these categories could be split or combined, but they are a starting point for taking an inventory of your life and deciding what most needs improvement. Getting your life in balance is an important part of recovery from whatever you may call your challenges.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.)  Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

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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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at

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