"The Art of Living"  is pleased to present a twelve step program
for anyone dealing with short term or long term mental health

The steps do not have to be followed in any special order.  We
recommend reading the twelve steps and then circling the steps
you currently are using.  Look at the remaining steps and ask
yourself if any of the remaining steps would be helpful.

We have found that this twelve step program may be useful for
anyone wishing to maintain a good quality of life.  

We hope these steps help you wherever you are on
your                                     journey in life.

  The Twelve Step Program

1.  Engage your Higher Power.                                     

2. Eat/sleep according to healthy guidelines.

              3. Practice good personal hygiene                                                 

4.  Practice movement/exercise often.

  5.  Construct and practice affirmations.

                                     6.  Work on purging guilt.

                     7.  Express your true feelings to someone you trust.

8.  Read or learn something new every day.

9.  Schedule and do something enjoyable for yourself at least  twice a week.

10.  Set short term and later long term goals for yourself.

                              11.  Find a support group to fit your needs.

       12.  Take any medication as prescribed by your doctor.

One of the best ways to think about the twelve steps is to circle any
steps  that you already may have incorporated into your life. Then
ask yourself if  the remaining steps could be of benefit for you.  Then
get to work on those.           
You may find it helpful to read the description that follows concerning
the twelve steps and how to incorporate them into your life.

                  1.  Engage your Higher Power.

This step is also contained in the AA twelve step program.  We feel it
is the most important step.  If you are not open to this step now, give
it some thought as time goes on.  We have something in common
with appliances.  Appliances are beautiful in themselves but can
never reach their full potential unless we plug them into the power
source, namely the outlets in our home.  When we "plug into" our
Higher Power, we too can reach our potential.  

2.  Eat/Sleep according to healthy guidelines.

It is important to realize that we really are what we eat!  Talk to your
health care professional about what you are eating and what you
should be eating for your height, weight and condition.  If you find
that you are too depressed to eat, your health care provider advise
you on various drinks that are nutritious to help you get through the

                      3.  Practice good personal hygiene.

Your hair is a good barometer of how you are feeling.  When we take
care of our personal hygiene by bathing daily, combing our hair and
putting on make-up we look and feel better immediately.  This can be
important in the healing process.  Pamper yourself by taking a long
bath or shower.  Pay attention to your nails.  You'll feel better for the

     4.  Do some type of movement/exercise often.

Talk to your health care provider about what type and how much
exercise you should be doing.  Stick to a schedule to make sure you
fit movement into your life.  We are meant to move and sometimes the
first thing that happens when we are ill is that we stop moving or
forget to move often.  Take a walk at a park or mall.  Have fun walking
with someone else.  You may be surprised at the extra energy you
will have when movement or exercise becomes part of your routine.  

               5.  Construct and practice affirmations.

There is a whole page in our website dedicated to affirmations.  
Please read.

                     6.  Work on getting rid of guilt.

Guilt is one heavy "bag" to carry around with you through life.  We
have all done things we wish we hadn't done.  That is part of the
human condition.  Follow these three steps to help with guilt.  The
first step is to ask for forgiveness from your Higher Power.  We know
that's our first step in this program.  Then, if possible give an "I'm
sorry", to the offended party.  If that person is deceased, write your
feelings down on paper and read them out loud to that person.  You
can even go to the cemetery if you'd like.  Read it, rip the paper up
and throw it away.  The final step is perhaps the hardest.  Practice the
art of self forgiveness.

Here is a very helpful exercise.  Go to a mirror.  Look yourself in the
eyes.  Really look, not just see yourself.  State out loud while looking
at yourself, "I forgive you and insert your name."  Then add, "And I
love you."  At first you may feel silly.  If done often this can be a
powerful tool in getting rid of guilt.  After all, when you think about it.  
Guilt is the inability to forgive yourself.  Practice self forgiveness
often until you feel better.

7.  Express your true feelings to someone you trust.

Lots of people find it very difficult to express their feelings, let alone
their true feelings.  Like any other exercise, it takes practice to see
results.  Find someone you really trust and give it a try.  Start with the
little stuff, like how you are really feeling at that moment.  Eventually
work your way up to the bigger things,such as how you are really
doing after your divorce.  Be a good listener as well.  Conversation
can be an art form with practice leading to results for both parties.

 8.  Read or learn something new every day.

Some recent research has shown that learning something new every
day can help stave off dementia/Alzheimer's.  The idea is that keeping
the brain active can keep it healthy  perhaps longer than if we just
stopped learning.  Watch an informative television show or read a
book or interesting article about something new for you.  At the very
least you will become a better conversationalist.  Learning is not just
for people in school.  It should be for all of us throughout our lives.

9.  Schedule and do something enjoyable for yourself
at                                           least twice a week.

Sometimes we get too busy to do anything for ourselves or else we
feel that is the case.  Research has shown that when we actually
schedule something on our calendars we are more apt to do the
things we have scheduled.  Think about what your idea of fun is and
when was the last time you did the thing or things you enjoy.  You
may be surprised at your answer.  You are not alone if you have not
done the thing you enjoy in weeks, months or even years.  It is very
easy for people to overlook themselves in this fast paced society of
ours.  It is not healthy though and we need to take steps to avoid total
neglect of self.  Schedule a "date" with yourself and you may be very
happy with the results.

10. Set short term and later long term goals for yourself.

People often find that simple things like brushing their teeth become
difficult when dealing with any mental health issue, especially
depression.  This is why it is a good idea to set very short term goals
such as personal hygiene issues initially while not worrying about
any long term issues like employment, relationships, etc.  When
setting a short term goal such as brushing your teeth, it is good to
note that you may not feel that you can get it done, but you can if you
simply just do it!  Don't wait for the "mood to move you" to do it;  just
do it whether you feel like it or not.  Once you are able to set and
achieve short term goals, you will gain confidence and be better
equipped to deal with long term goals.  Remember, just get up and do
it!  Then congratulate yourself.

11.  Find a support group to fit your needs.

This can be very helpful for anyone dealing with any type of issue.  
People feel better when they are sitting and talking with people who
understand what they are going through.  Ask your doctor, nurse or
social worker for a group to fit your needs.  You may even make new
friends.  A lot of the larger churches have group meetings for people
dealing with various issues.  Contact your local church to get a
schedule or a reference to another church that may hold support
group meetings.

12.  Take any medications as prescribed by your doctor.

There are many people that begin taking medication for one reason
or another and when they think they are feeling better, simply stop
taking that medication without talking first to their doctor.  I call this
"playing doctor."  Resist this idea and by all means, call your doctor
first before discontinuing any medication.  Don't adjust your dose
without asking your doctor and don't pass on your pills to anyone
else.  Call your doctor before making any decisions concerning your

Practicing these twelve steps will hopefully help to make
your life brighter and a little more artful!  It's all part of the
thinking behind "the artofliving.us" (that's our website); to
help you to live a happy, healthy and artful life!

If you have any comments or questions concerning this twelve
step program feel free to use our contact page.  We would love to
hear from you. .

Blessings, Diana Ray


This 12 point/step program is for
anyone dealing with mental
health issues or for anyone
hoping to maintain good mental