Finding Happiness and Compassion in Addiction Recovery
In the early days of addiction recovery, you may not fully understand what happiness is or how to truly feel it. You see, the first stages of sobriety often entail you to measure happiness through comparing yourself to the old days, or old you - the time in which you spent your days in an altered state. Once in recovery, you need to find completely new ways to be happy and this is not as easy as flipping on a light switch.
For now, give yourself a break. You can and will discover pure happiness, and not the kind that comes from buying new stuff. Take time to focus on yourself and try to follow this advice for finding happiness in addiction recovery.
Why Happiness is Essential in Recovery
Treatment for addiction is effective; however, there is still a chance of relapse. If recovery is not rewarding or motivating, and there is no heightened sense of meaning in life, sobriety will be challenged. To have a positive recovery there must be changes in various elements which make life worth living. One of the main elements is happiness.
There’s a Chinese proverb which says “Patience and the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown.” When you are cultivating happiness, you need patience. It does not occur from one single leap; rather, it’s cultivated by forging good habits, building a strong character persona, improving the wellbeing of one’s self and being compassionate to others. Once these patterns become automatic habits, happiness ensues.
Happiness vs. Pleasure
Happiness is often confused with pleasure. Both are essentially “feel good” emotions, but there is a major difference. People with an addiction often chase only pleasure. Eventually this is believed to be happiness, but when the pleasure is gone, pain develops. A cycle of chasing pleasure ensues and is bound to repeat itself. Happiness is different. It doesn’t wear off and it doesn’t go away. Essentially, when you’ve found true happiness it will always be there, even on bad days in which it lingers in the background.
Remember, rehab and addiction recovery helps to eliminate the mistakes of your past. Negative emotions, doubt, worry and fear will start to dissolve as will harmful thoughts. Day by day, as you continue to work on your sobriety, you will remove the sources which have a toxic element to them.
What is Happiness and Where Can You Find It?
One psychologist says happiness is felt when there is meaning and pleasure in life. The meaning gives you a sense of purpose and the pleasure gives you a sense of joy. Both are necessary, but should not harm you or anyone else.
A lot of people, including those who have never had an addiction, mistake happiness for instant gratification which happens most often from buying something new. This is a temporary feeling which will quickly go away. To feel happiness, you often have to look within yourself. Try the following:
More Meditation - Start by practicing mindfulness meditation to balance your emotions. Take at least 10 minutes a day to focus on your breath and release any built up tension or anxiety during this time.
Find Gratitude - At some point in your day, think about something that triggers gratitude; it could be your family, job, a story you read in the newspaper or your sobriety. Just thinking about a positive experience will naturally promote positivity.
Improve Your Posture - Make an effort to adjust your posture so that it is naturally tuned to your own alignment. There are studies which suggest poor posture can lead to decreased moods, self esteem and confidence. It will also heal shoulder, neck and back problems which could be underlying precursors to various addictions.
Notice the Small Things – We often forget to appreciate the little things in life. To find happiness, bring into account natural beauty like flowers, tasks you’ve completed or new things you’ve learned. Let these happy thoughts come to focus and sit on them for a few seconds to sink in.
Take it slow – Recovery is not something that can be rushed. As 12 step groups so commonly say, take things one day at a time. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself, it’s not needed and can overwhelm you. Rather, be proud at where you at right now. Feel good about yourself, and go ahead and give yourself a smile. How do you feel now?
Remember to Show Compassion - Developing compassion alongside happiness in addiction recovery will only further promote positivity in your life and lead to a real sense of serenity. Once you start to feel compassion for yourself, it will be easier for you to show these feelings towards others. By helping the needs of others, you spread a message of kindness and will experience a joy that cannot be expressed in words. Showing compassion to others does not mean you need to volunteer at a soup kitchen; after all, this is not for everyone. It could be carrying the groceries of an elderly neighbor, making cards and desserts for a local care home, or being a listener to a friend in need. The ability to give compassion can be found anywhere; even in your own home. Just become an observer and you will find it.
You Will Feel Happiness
As you grow and evolve in addiction recovery, you will begin to feel lasting joy, content and happiness. You’ll learn how to look at the good and the bad, and you will find good in the bad. You will be grateful for everything and deep reflections will become something you appreciate. If you are currently recovering from an addiction, keep staying on the right path; you’re doing great!