“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”
~ Chinese Proverb
Do you roll your eyes at statements like always look on the bright side of life, every dark cloud has a silver lining, or the classic think positive? Positivity may seem like a hollow cliché in the face of addiction recovery, but there is everything to be said for the power that positive thinking, attitudes, and actions have on not only recovery from addiction but healing as an entire person.
The statements above do more than conveying a sense of optimism – they highlight the importance of integrating positivity into your everyday life as a recovering addict or alcoholic. If the last several decades of addiction research have shown anything, it’s that there is every reason to hope: alcoholism and addiction may be chronic diseases, but it is entirely possible to recover and begin life again.
It’s Not All in Your Head: Maintaining Positivity in Recovery Helps Healing
Including positivity in addiction and alcoholism recovery is based in the broader field of positive psychology, a relatively new psychological approach that focuses on how changing one’s mental paradigm can lead to what is essentially a better life.
“Positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.”
All of that, and more, is possible on the road to recovery. Taking a positive approach to addiction recovery does not mean denying the negative impact that addiction and alcoholism can have on your life, nor the fact that it is something you are likely to deal with your entire life. Instead, the power of positivity in recovery means focusing on the fact that addiction is a behavioral disorder, that the behaviors and choices associated with addiction can be changed through counseling, support, and commitment to transformation. Recovery and healing may be a long process, but you can begin living a better life now.
This approach to recovery is not pie in the sky, but based on academic research. Taking a positive approach to recovery and healing can have a powerful impact on the process:
- Positivity helps establish skills and habits conducive to a happier and more meaningful life
- Positivity leads to better and healthier social engagement
- Positivity helps establish and maintain better, longer lasting relationships
- Positivity can give addicts a sense of meaning in their new life
- Positivity gives a sense of achievement over past mistakes and missteps
If the psychological and mental reasons for staying positive in recovery are not enough, consider that positivity is associated with reduced symptoms of depression, a more robust immune system, and lower levels of stress. Clearly, positivity has a great deal to offer everybody, but is particularly important for the recovering addict or alcoholic.
How to Realize the Power of Staying Positive in Recovery
Staying positive through addiction counseling, group therapy, and group meetings is a crucial aspect of not only recovery, but healing as an entire person. But how can you actually realize the power positivity in recovery and healing? There is no universal answer to this question, but these tips should help:
- Remind yourself. Keep a journal of gratitude; write notes to yourself; meditate. Whatever it takes to remember each and everyday that you have self-worth and are on your way to a happier, healthier life.
- Invest in relationships. This is a two way street: surround yourself with positive and supportive people, but also take the time to reach out and help others engage.
- Stay active. Hobbies, specific goals, and physical exercise all help avoid depression, anxiety, and other forms of negativity. This helps keep you focused on where you’re going rather than where you’ve been.