Action 5: Create

As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live. – Goethe

The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge. - Bertrand Russell

The essence of addiction management is to find a path that limits or eliminates addictive behavior and maximizes opportunities for living life to its fullest. The two goals are not independent, but inversely related. The more you live the life you want, the less desire and need there is for addiction.

Those who never utilize professional treatment often successfully change their behavior for the very reason that they begin to lead a life they want. I have often felt that most treatment programs focus far too heavily on the pathological, ignoring the benefits of enhancing clients positive attributes. It has only been within the past decade that the field of psychology has taken seriously the notion of optimal living.

How do we define it? What is the “good life”?

To date, much like the field of addiction, there is no universally understood way of defining optimal living. However, we may soon find that researchers will provide some significant assistant in this area (and in fact already have). Most of the work being done falls under the fairly new field of positive psychology.

There is good consensus that we must understand optimal living from different perspectives including those that involve positive experiences both individually and collectively. Considerable research already tells us that the essence of a good life is found in our relationships with others.

We are social beings by nature, and when we are connected with others intimately, we are enriched far beyond any life fueled by materialism. In addition, there are life experiences (work, hobbies, sports, etc.) that under particular conditions provide a “flow” to life that helps us define the elusive idea of optimal living.

The following sites provide a portal into the world of positive psychology and optimal living. There is no one right recipe for living an optimal life. You will discover after visiting these sites, that the answer is not found in the vast self-help literature or latest gimmick on how to be happy.

Positive Psychology Center

This is the primary academic site maintained by Dr. Martin Seligman, the psychologist who is the driving force behind this movement. He also maintains the Authentic Happiness Website that offers a number of useful resources related to positive psychology.

Dr. Ed Diener’s Subjective Well-Being website

Dr. Diener is the expert on how people evaluate their lives. His research is helping to tease out just what it is that contributes to a life well lived. For a nice summation of his work in layman’s terms see the Q & A section of his web site.

Concept of Flow

Researched and written about extensively by Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is provide significant clues as to how to optimize life. For a great overview of this topic read his best selling book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

The optimal life sprouts from doing the work of the other four dimensions discussed on this site, and a deep commitment to oneself and the lives of others.