Like in most other aspects of life, state of mind can be an asset to a successful recovery. When a recovering addict is a doom-and-gloomer and acts like each day could be his or her last day of sobriety, that kind of attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The pessimists of the world sometimes offer some compelling reasons for their pessimism but in the grand scheme of things you’ll live a happier, more stress-free and successful life when you can appreciate the good rather than dwelling on the bad.
Again, state of mind plays a crucial role in one’s recovery. But it’s more than just a necessary resource for maintaining one’s sobriety. Being an optimist is an asset for anyone, whether in recovery from addiction, starting a new job, taking a romantic relationship to the next level, and in countless other situations. Therefore, we felt now would be a good time to offer a to-do list that will help you to make optimism a healthy habit.
First, what exactly does it mean to be optimistic?
Optimists are most commonly described as people who see the proverbial glass as being half-full rather than half-empty. Alternately, they’re often described as people who take the lemons that life gives them, adds water and sugar, and ends up with delicious lemonade. In short, people who are more optimistic don’t allow themselves to be weighed down or defeated by any unfortunate happenings in life. Instead, they take things in stride and counter the bad things with hope for more good things to come in the future.
It may sound relatively straightforward, but being a habitual optimist is much easier said than done, especially for people who are inherently more pessimistic. Becoming optimistic requires a person to adopt what’s essentially an entirely different, new outlook on life, a completely different way of seeing the world around oneself. In a sense, it’s a lot like changing the fundamental fabric of one’s personality. However, even though it’s not easy becoming an optimist, it also doesn’t have to be that hard, which is why we’ve created the following tips with which you can become more optimistic and turn that optimism into a habit.
The first bit of advance we have is also probably the most unexpected: Stop trying too hard to be happy. You’ve surely heard it said that when someone is trying too hard, their efforts are never authentic. As a result, having to put such intense efforts into something actually backfires, causing the reverse of what was actually intended. When it comes to happiness, trying too hard could make being happy seem like a chore or an obligation. Instead, stop trying so hard to force happiness upon yourself and, instead, look for reasons to actually be happy.
It may be clichèd to tell you to “live each day like it’s your last”, but a live-for-today mindset is extremely important if you’re going to be more optimistic. That’s not to say you shouldn’t make any plans for the future because you should always know where you want to go and what you want to achieve in life, but your primary concern throughout each day shouldn’t be events that won’t come to pass for days, weeks, months, or even years down the road. Being too future-focused will prevent you from being really present in life and from experiencing all the good things about which you should be feeling happy.
Many of us will remember our parents warning us to be careful about the people with whom we surround ourselves. That advice has a lot of merit in adulthood, too. If you surround yourself with extremely negative people, you’re going to pick up that negativity yourself, and probably sooner rather than later. Conversely, surrounding yourself with positive people is going to have the same effect, making you more likely to be more positive. We’re not saying you should cut anyone who’s not overtly optimistic from your life, but you should make an effort to spend the majority of your time with people who aren’t pessimistic and bringing you down.
In every situation, you have a choice in how you react. When something bad happens, you can either fall apart or you can learn from the experience and move on. It’s important for you to know that negativity isn’t the only way to respond; in virtually all situations, you can choose not to default to pessimism. Try to consider every experience, even the worst of the worst experiences, opportunities to learn and grow.
People often underestimate the effect that neglecting their needs can have on their state of mind. We often assume that the only effect of getting a poor night’s sleep will be that we’ll feel tired the next day; however, feelings of exhaustion prohibit cognition, productivity, slow your response and reaction time, and just generally make you function poorly. By taking care of your basic needs, you’re putting yourself in an optimal position to take advantage of each and every day.
Much like meeting your most basic needs, it’s important to find time to do things that you actually enjoy. After all, there aren’t many things in life that make us happier than when we’re pursuing our passions. This can also be highly motivating and put us in a better mood, making the lens through which we experience our lives a bit more rosey. In short, taking more time to pursue our interests will put us in a much better mindset overall.
If you or someone you love would like to discuss the treatment options that are available, call Intervention Services toll-free at 877-478-4621. We’re available anytime, day or night, to help you or your loved one return to a healthy, happy life.