joy island

I am currently in the process of getting certified as a Life and Recovery Coach through the NET Institute's Rise Recovery Coach program. One of my recent homework assignments was to come up with a creative "story" that will explain how addictions use the way our brain was designed against us. The trick to this assignment was that I was NOT allowed to use brain talk or scientific wording at all! 

Here is the story I came up with..... I hope it paints a picture for you that peaks your interest in this subject! This story can serve as a "base line" of understanding the brain.... which I'll explain more about in future posts! 

For now.. Welcome to the islands......

Once upon a time there was a mystical land of islands. The main island was called Joy Island. Everyone that lived on the island of joy was free to come and go as they pleased. Joy Island was a great place to live. People here supported one another and were always glad to be with each other. They did things together and had lots of fun. Even their work and chores felt like fun because of the way they were glad to be together. 

Joy Island had everything they needed, but sometimes things would happen that required them to travel to the other nearby islands. Those islands were Sadness, Anger, Fear, Disgust, Shame and Hopeless Despair.

Each family would build their own bridges to get to those islands when they needed to. The more frequently they went as a family, the bigger and stronger their bridge became. Walking together over to Anger island or Fear island on a regular basis, and then returning back to home on Joy Island was the way to build strong bridges. Strong bridges meant that it was perfectly acceptable to go back and forth. It was totally safe to explore all the islands from their well built bridges.

However, if they avoided a certain island, their bridge might be nothing more than a flimsy wooden swinging bridge! Only going a few times to an island, or pretending they didn't ever need to visit a certain island was a sure way to end up with a rickety bridge!

There was really only one rule about traveling to those islands. Don’t go alone! It was really hard to get back to Joy Island from the other islands if you went alone, and no one wanted anyone to get stuck in those places!

Overtime though, some families stopped going to some of those islands all together. This left really weak bridges in place that couldn’t hold up to any stormy weather.

One day, little Evie took a trip by herself to the island of sadness. She used one of those small, weak bridges to get there and as soon as she arrived, a storm raged and washed away her bridge. She was stuck! Being stuck on Sad Island was not fun! Sad was a miserable place to live.  

It was only meant to be a temporary place to visit after all.

It didn’t have any of the things she needed. And it was lonely. There weren’t any fruits in the trees here, and hardly any shade to shelter her from the sun. She was forced to go inland to look for shelter as more and more storms kept raging by. The problem is, the further inland she went, the sadder she felt.

 She started looking around Sad Island to find something to make her feel better. Much to her surprise she discovered a drink that made her smile easier. She started drinking it every day! It felt so good to smile again! It was getting easier to live on Sad Island now that she had this drink! Even though she still felt sad in between drinks… she was starting to believe that her drinks were better than life back on Joy Island.

One day, she discovered some other people who had come to Sad Island on a boat from their home on Anger Island. (They had gotten stuck there a long time ago and found a way between these 2 islands). One of these people was a man… he told her how pretty she was and introduced her to sex. Now she was starting to feel really good on Sad Island! With her drinks and her sex, she could barely remember Joy Island anymore. 

Except for those annoying times when she was quiet and alone and the sad feelings started creeping back in.

Pretty soon, her drinks and her Anger Island boyfriend stopped feeling so good. So she needed to get more. She traded her boyfriend for a new one, and added some pills to her drinks in order to feel good again- for a little while. This continued until she eventually lost her little shelter on Sad Island. 

She decided to move since she couldn’t afford to live with all her drinks and pills and boyfriends anymore. She stole the boat from Anger Island and tried to find a new place to live. Unfortunately, she ended up on Hopeless Island! 

Hopeless Island was really isolated and far from the other islands. Here Evie missed her drinks and pills and boyfriends, but discovered a sugar tree to help ease her pain. She built a new home right next to the sugar tree… the sugar tree feelings didn’t last long, so she had to keep eating from it all day and all night long. Whenever she stopped eating from the sugar tree, the noises from Shame Island (her closest neighbor) drove her crazy!!

Evie is so far from home now that she is just ready to give up on life. She knows that making homes on these islands was not what she wanted in the 1st place, but she has no idea how to get back to Joy Island- or if it even exists anymore.


Can you relate to this story? Stay tuned for my explanation for how this story can be translated into real life, and real science, and real "God's design" for our life.

*None of these pictures are mine. They were all found using google image search.


  1. I love this! Such a great analogy to explain how the brain works! Thank you for your story!!

    1. Thanks! I think it's simple enough to even modify for children to explain our emotional systems! :)

  2. Yes, a good illustration. Many of us need this reminder that, as unsafe as it often feels, we need to travel together. I look forward to hearing the rest.

  3. Wow! This is a very powerful exercise that produces very powerful results. Pictures are the language of the spirit and always trump the abstractions of the mind.

    1. I agree! I always learn best when I can create a picture of something in my mind! :) Thanks for commenting Don.

  4. Wow! This is a powerful exercise that produced powerful results. Pictures are the language of the spirit and always trump the abstract concepts of the mind. If a child can understand it, the inner child of an adult can understand it.


I'd love to hear what you think!