Dear Marina Dock Members
Happy New Year, everyone.
Peace and prosperity in abundance. I wish you all the best for
2006. What a year 2005 was for us, a year of challenge and change,
which, if I may say so, we handled with equanimity and grace.
So many people pitched in.
I want to thank all of you for your support, and your vote of
confidence. It's been a real morale booster.
Next month, February,
believe it or not, we will be celebrating 20 years of serving
the San Francisco recovery community. It never ceases to amaze
me how many people know about us. We certainly have a reputation
and a following worldwide. The only piece of bad news in all
of this is we lost our neighbors next door at the Thai Restaurant.
Whoever bought that building did not renew their lease. They
were such great neighbors and beautiful people to boot. Gentle,
humble, always happy, and great Thai food. We will definitely
Money and Happiness
Scott Fitzgerald said,
"The rich are different than the rest of us". Hemingway
responded by saying "because they have more money than
we do". But, what is the relationship between money and
happiness? What does it mean to be happy, period? Dictionary
definitions of happiness include words like joyous, blessed,
blissful, gratified, convivial, ecstatic, to mention but a few,
but how can we define a word loaded with so much subjective
and emotional connotation? "True happiness is not attained
through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy
cause" Helen Keller (1880-1968). Nowadays, we tend to equate
happiness with money or the lack of it. In a recent article,
I read, "Why money doesn't necessarily bring happiness."
It said, "Increases in wealth can lead to unrealistic expectations
of contentment, which when subsequently unfulfilled, cause disappointment."
Current thinking on this topic however, suggests that money
does not have a strong relationship to happiness. According
the renowned British Economist Richard Layard, author of Happiness:
Lessons From a New Science, humans cling to the notion
that the two are linked, with a result, Layard said in an interview,
that "people tend to expect more from money than it can
give." A quotation in Layard's book is attributed to Woody
Allen " Money is better than poverty, if only for financial
reasons." Amen to that.
Many studies have
shown that people have an exaggerated forecast of the benefits
of having more money. Apparently, as soon as our material position
improves, we display a remarkable tendency to adapt. The thrill
is gone, as they say. Our happiness does go up for a while,
and then it returns to the base level. If you think that sounds
like a recipe for that chronic, not quite satisfied feeling,
then you would be right. People tend to crave more money and
more things to restore that peak of good feeling, only to adapt
to those pleasures and seek the next high, an addictive phenomenon
that economist have labeled the "hedonistic treadmill."
So, the quest for
a financially fulfilling new year, at least in conventional
terms, might not add to your store of joy. There is something
about the pursuit of money itself that seems to put happiness
just out of reach. In fact, studies have shown that whatever
people earn, they tend to estimate that the real amount they
need to live is still higher. We end up comparing our financial
status with that of those around us, and if ours is lower, suddenly
whatever we have is no longer enough.
Layard posits that
there may be an evolutionary mechanism "that drives people
to ever higher goals", but he questions the usefulness
of this onward-upward urge in modern times, when outright survival
does not depend so much on acquisitive Type A behavior. "I
think it's a relatively new situation for human beings to be
in" he said. How can we raise our quality of life, when
increasing our material possessions is no longer the most important
factor in raising quality of life?
It is not to say that
acquiring the iPod, Porsche, or that Treo you always wanted
would not enhance your lifestyle. But, what Layard and many
other researchers are finding is that it pays to think like
a shrewd investor and realize that most material investments
have a greater yield in the short term. For more steady dividends,
emotionally and financially, you may want to rebalance your
portfolio to include stocks that often outperform expectations.
It is a little strange
to think of relationships, health, community, or meaningful
work - all of which have been shown to increase happiness substantially
- in financial terms. But, what if you did? Would investing
more of your resources in quality of life increase overall joie
de vivre? I wish you a very happy New Year figuring it out (The
Taipei Times, 2006).
Legends in the Fall
Friends and Family
August 18, Mike and friends acknowledged my 90th birthday with
an "open house" event. The kind words, humor, and
caring messages gave me a marvelous day for which I thank you.
September 1 marked my 55th anniversary in a 12-step program.
The program has worked for me and for that I'm grateful. Good
friends from several states took the time - and effort - to
visit Mike and me on these occasions. We are most appreciative.
I'm also fortunate with all the phone calls letters and emails
that arrive daily throughout the year.
of interest: Helen Setter, a resident of my nursing home, turned
112 years old last month. A website that keeps track of "certified"
super centenarians lists Helen as the 22nd oldest person in
the world. As youngsters, her nephew Dick Fischer and I would
stop by Helen's home on our way to grade school for her delicious
milk and cookies. After this treat, Helen would usually remark,
her voice quavering, and her hand over her heart, "Boys,
I may not see you tomorrow... I'm feeling quite poorly."
So much for gerontological projections!
for me, I continue in fairly good health- "You grow up
and then you grow old" - I try to concentrate on the first
you each and all a joyous Christmas and a serene New Year.
For our Constant
Flow of Newcomers
Welcome to the Marina
Dock and a clean and sober way of living. In the beginning,
everything can be confusing and chaotic, just remember it will
change over time, as more will be revealed. If you still have
a car and a driver's license, but you are worried about parking?
Don't. There is a parking lot right behind our building. Go
to Webster Street between Greenwich and Lombard Street and turn
into the alleyway that says "Parking" and it is halfway
down that street named "Moulton" behind the Post Office.
It is a public parking lot, costs about $2.00 an hour and it's
open late into the night 1:00 am, later at the weekends.
If you don't have
a job and you are broke, that's good. You can attend meetings
all day and ask questions from our eclectic group of long-term
sober members. If you need a Big Book and other recovery literature,
ask the person at the desk for directions on how to get a book
If you have an overwhelming
sense of demoralization and impending doom, and the future looks
bleak, that's also a good sign. It means you are reachable and
teachable and you are in the right place.
If you think the girl
sitting across the room from you is cute, and maybe she could
help with your pain and abandonment issues? Yes, she is cute,
and no, she is not the solution. Read the section in the 12
x12 where it talks about "Boy Meets Girl on AA Campus and
Love Follows" (Step 12).
Don't isolate by working
all the time or staying at home, trying to solve your problems.
We call this "living in your head." Remember, we live
our lives one day at a time. Try not to think about tomorrow
or yesterday, one of our slogans being "yesterday is history
tomorrow is a mystery" Living sober is ultimately about
gratitude and humility. We must cultivate that attitude of gratitude
and walk humbly under the grace of God.
Happy New Year to all our members and patrons. If you can help
us out, we would be more than grateful. If you are reaching
out, we are even more grateful.
The solution is love,