Positive psychology teaches us that the key to avoiding negative emotions and succumbing to the stresses of life lies in cultivating a positive outlook on life. This may be especially true when you are in recovery from drug or alcohol abuse, as stress and the resulting negative emotions may be enough to tip you over the edge and send you into a relapse. Learning to control your thoughts, attitudes and emotions is a valuable tool that can lead to experiencing happiness during your recovery. Follow these tips for raising your happiness score and making your life more enjoyable.
1. Change Your Thinking
How we think about ourselves and our lives has a major impact on us, but it isn’t always easy to maintain a positive and happy outlook. If you find yourself struggling with cultivating a positive attitude, try faking it until you feel it. While this may sound foreign or even dishonest at first, research shows that when you act as though you are happy your mind and body will soon follow. According to Changing Minds, the simple act of wearing a smile instead of a frown sets the stage for happier feelings. Likewise, choose your words wisely and use positive words in conversations.
2. Express Your Gratitude
Expressing gratitude releases a host of positive emotions and shifts your focus from the negative to the positive. Instead of dwelling on the aspects of your life that aren’t going as well as you had hoped or expected, shift gears and zone in on everything you have to be grateful for. If you find expressing gratitude difficult, start with the basics and give thanks for healthy food to eat, fresh air to breathe and eyes to see with. You will soon find yourself feeling gratitude for a host of things you may have overlooked before. Keeping a gratitude journal is a wonderful way to document your growth.
3. Practice Acceptance
Sometimes life takes interesting turns that don’t lead down the path you expected or hoped it would. Accepting the fact that your life is not perfect or your home doesn’t look like the perfect living spaces depicted in magazines can bring peace and comfort during your recovery. While you will still want to strive for your best, sometimes, accepting life as it is can bring you more happiness.
4. Be Forgiving
Holding on to grudges or taking everything personally can eat away at your happiness. Learning to view others as fallible human beings who sometimes say the wrong thing or use the wrong tone and forgiving them for their seeming transgressions can go a long way toward increasing your happiness. Likewise, forgiving yourself for poor decisions or actions in the past will free you to enjoy the present and experience more happiness.
5. Keep Busy
Sitting around waiting for your life to happen or circumstances to change often leads to negative thinking and unhappiness. Keeping yourself busy will get your mind off the things you don’t want in your life and focus your attention on positive things. Take up a new hobby, find a new passion or take the time to learn something new to improve your happiness during recovery.
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