Am I Allowed To Be Happy?

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For most of the time we spent in active alcoholism and addiction, we weren’t very happy. The briefest moments of having enough of our drug of choice to get us through another moment quickly faded upon reflection that we might be trapped living in addicted torment for the rest of our lives.

When genuinely good things did happen, most of us were numb or needed another drink or fix to properly “celebrate.” But we never really felt celebratory for long. The dark moments would always come, leading us to misremember the past as something totally awful dread the future as something completely bleak.

Alcoholics and addicts like us have a troubled relationship with happiness. Many of us have judged ourselves as unworthy of happiness because of the actions, feelings, and traumas that perpetuated and endured in our addiction. We must try to see that we are not bad people. Alcoholism and addiction are diseases.

We are simply sick people, not bad ones. Forgiveness, too, is hard for most of us – especially when it’s self-forgiveness. But that may be an essential ingredient in finding happiness. Take it one thing at a time.

Yes, You Are Allowed to Be Happy

The short answer is, “Yes! You are allowed to be happy!” The long answer is, “Yes! Yes! YES! You’re allowed to be happy!”

We’re here to help you learn how to get happy. We’d like you to even go a step beyond that, to find lasting joy, enduring satisfaction, peace, and freedom in addition to your happiness. The trick is, you have to believe it. You have to believe it is more than okay for you to be happy. You also have to allow yourself to be happy.

Go on. Look at yourself in the mirror and say, “Hey me. It’s okay to be happy. I allow you to be happy. I want you to be happy, and I’m going to help you.” Cheesy? For sure. Weird? Definitely. Still, go ahead and do it right now. Say it a few times. We’ll talk more when you get back.

What’s Stopping Me From Being Happy?

Judgment, fear, pain, regret, thoughts, and attitudes – just to name a few. These things block us from happiness, joy, peace, freedom, and purpose. We cut ourselves off from the good things in life when we so easily agree with the negative part of our mind. We simply need a new perspective.

Sometimes topics like “deserving happiness” make us alcoholics and addicts feel uncomfortable. We truly don’t think it’s possible to feel things like joy and peace. When they do come up, we feel unworthy, undeserving, or nervous. Let’s explore this further.


One of the big reasons behind this denial of happiness is self-judgment. We know what we’ve done, and we know who we are when no one’s watching. We judge ourselves as unfit for a good, happy life. So when it approaches, we consciously and subconsciously push it away. We often judge ourselves too harshly.

Wasn’t life incredibly painful in our alcoholism and addiction? Maybe that was punishment enough. Maybe happiness is one of the keys to long-term recovery. And don’t forget, long-term recovery is not about punishment for our disease. It is about happiness, meaning, usefulness, and joy. Letting go of how you judge yourself is one step toward happiness.


Another big reason we deny allowing ourselves to be happy is self-forgiveness. We can grudgingly learn how to forgive others at the urging of the 12-Steps. After we do it for a while, we begin to forgive others because of how good it feels and how much it brightens the world – but we often forget to forgive ourselves. We still resent ourselves for spending so much time lost in our disease. We regret our mistakes and the hurt we caused.

Here is where we really need the 12-Steps. Steps 4-9 are all about properly understanding our past, making right the things we can make right, and moving on to grow closer to our higher power and all people. But you can start forgiving yourself right this moment, and you can earn your own forgiveness by honestly taking all of the 12-Steps. Forgiving yourself is another big step toward happiness.

Practice Your Happiness

You are allowed to be happy the second you allow yourself to be happy. If it’s uncomfortable, then you might need to practice happiness for awhile. You can do this through self-care, self-forgiveness, doing kind and helpful things for others for no reason, working the 12-Steps, and staying involved in an active recovery community.

There are so many ways to practice happiness. Start by letting go of judgment and forgiving yourself. Then back up that commitment to yourself by working the 12-Steps and incorporating them fully into your life. Fill your life with people who are happy to be in recovery, and spend your time being good to them – and happiness will surely follow.

It can be almost impossible to experience joy, happiness, and meaning in a life bound by alcoholism and addiction. Many of us who once lived in the darkness of our disease have found a life of meaning, purpose, joy, and happiness at Jaywalker Lodge. Let us show you how we did it. Call us today at (866) 529-9255.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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