A positive attitude is an important part of recovery and of life. Research shows that more optimistic people are healthier, have more career success, have better relationships, and even live longer. There are likely two main reasons for these benefits. First, optimistic people tend to feel less stress. If you believe things will work out for the best, why worry? Second, optimistic people may be more willing to exert themselves to achieve positive outcomes. For example, if you want to quit drinking but you believe it’s completely hopeless, you won’t try nearly as hard as you would if you believed recovery was achievable.
Optimism can be good for you but what if you aren’t feeling especially optimistic? Typically, the decision to seek help for addiction or pursue recovery is motivated by the hopelessness of active addiction. Is a mindset of hope and optimism possible from this space?
The first way to become more optimistic is to practice gratitude. This helps you identify things in your life to feel positive about. There are two main ways to increase your feelings of gratitude, which studies show also increase your sense of optimism. The first is taking a few minutes at the end of the day to write down three things you’re grateful for, no matter how small. Doing this consistently trains your brain to look for positive things during the day. Second, make a point of expressing gratitude to others. It’s polite, it improves your relationships, and it makes you feel better. An especially powerful way to do this is to write a letter thanking someone for something important he or she did for you.
Look for the Silver Lining
Negative feelings are typically the result of negative thoughts. We normally don’t realize this. We think we feel bad because something bad happened but what really happens is that our thoughts and beliefs about a situation make us feel bad. There are two ways to change the habit of negative thinking. One is to identify your hidden thoughts and beliefs and ask if they are accurate. Therapy can help a lot with this. The other way is to find an alternative interpretation of events. Even things that seem pretty bad can have a silver lining. For example, the choices made and consequences suffered during active addiction are painful. However, learning that your experience can be used to offer hope to others in recovery reframes your mindset, offering you a way to relate positively to old wounds.
Spend Time With Optimistic People
Finally, spending time with friends and supportive family members can make you more optimistic, especially if your friends and family are optimistic too. Social connection tends to reduce stress and make you feel like you have more resources for confronting problems. Supportive people can also reassure you when you don’t feel optimistic about the future yourself.
Changing your thinking and behavior isn’t easy. It takes consistent effort over a long time but it is possible. At Tree House Recovery of Orange County, our structured program helps men change their thinking and behavior to create lives free from addiction. We pride ourselves in offering a holistic program that helps men recover from addiction through cultivating wellness of mind, body, and spirit. To learn more, call us today at 855-202-2138.