4 Examples of Meaning from SCHC Alumni

Finding meaning and purpose in life is a journey that is difficult for most people. For those suffering from an addiction, finding how to feel more fulfilled seems particularly daunting.

Individuals who feel content typically have a very good understanding of their values and what is important to them. They then choose goals that match those values. For example, one former client felt it was important for him to help the underprivileged and that education was important. He started helping adults learn to read and write. Another former client felt it was important for him to help people suffering from addiction. He enrolled in school to become an addiction counsellor.

In this blog, we’ll look at four ways Sunshine Coast Health Centre alumni have found meaning and purpose in their lives.

1. Volunteering

One alumnus told us that he spends several hours each week helping out those in psychiatric wards in hospitals who suffer from addiction. He said that volunteering provides two benefits. First, he feels good helping out in the community. Second, it provides a reminder of where he came from.

What is particularly noticeable about him, however, is that he is filled with gratitude. Those attending 12-step programs know that gratitude is one of the spiritual principles of the program. From a scientific perspective, we know that those who practice gratitude live more fulfilling lives.

A key part of volunteering is to make sure you volunteer for something important to you. Take some time to explore your values and research volunteering opportunities within your community.

group of people volunteering finding meaning in life

2. Finding Meaningful Work

A former client works in a bank. He said it’s not the most exciting job, but he has some interest in banking and it pays the bills. He was worried that he would become bored with the routine at work, which was a major reason for his substance use. To make the work more interesting, he decided to involve the bank in a community project. In this case, it was sponsoring minor hockey teams.

With the bank manager’s blessings, he became the organizer, media person, problem-solver, and cheerleader for the venture. He still did his regular job, of course, but the key is that he creatively figured out how to make the job more personally interesting.

To find meaningful work you don’t necessarily have to quit and completely shift careers if the idea of doing so is stressful. Sometimes all it takes is a little creativity.

3. Connecting with Family

An alumnus was not particularly happy with his behaviour toward his partner and kids while he was in active addiction. He felt a great amount of guilt over times when he missed important family functions, such as his daughter’s birthday. Feeling as though he wasn’t there for his family left him feeling ashamed. He was in the same house, but his mind was on drugs.

In his case, he decided that his high-pressure job that had long hours and an irregular schedule was a key factor in not allowing him to spend as much time with his family as he wished. He eventually quit the job and became self-employed, offering his services as a fishing guide. He made less money, but, for him, spending more time with family was more important than the large pay cheque.

family sitting down eating finding meaning through connecting

4. Experimenting

Many SCHC alumni have told us that they don’t have a goal or mission in life and feel like they have no idea what to do. Research indicates that the best approach is simply to try something when this is the case. At the very least, you’ll discover whether you like it or not.

One former client knew he wanted to return to school. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, so he took a general program. After getting some experience in different subjects, he was able to choose a program that he truly valued.

Interestingly, when they experiment, alumni tell us they try to listen to what their gut tells them.

The Takeaway

Two points seem to be particularly important for the alumni. First, they reported feeling energized by doing something that provided more fulfillment in their lives. Waking up was now exciting because they had something to accomplish. Second, alumni who were doing well attached their lives to something greater than themselves, such as community or family.

A key principle of the meaning theory is that meaning is personal. You cannot give meaning to a person. It must come from within the person. Meaning does not come from a job, education, or wealth. If, for example, you think, “If only I could be a Conservation Officer, then my life would have meaning and purpose.” The obvious problem is that if you’re not a Conservation Officer, then you’re screwed.

Thankfully, that’s not how reality works. The job itself is not what provides meaning. You do. In theory, you should be able to take any job and make it meaningful to you. It may take effort and creativity on your part, but that’s just the way life works. You, not the job, are the key factor in living a meaningful life.

At Sunshine Coast Health Centre, our non-12-step program methodology for treating addiction, mental health, trauma and PTSD comes from Dr. Viktor Frankl’s proposition that the fundamental motivation in humans is the will for meaning. To learn more about the services we offer, please visit our website or call us today.

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