I have a close friend in recovery who has a very special sponsee in her life that is still searching for happiness, even after 2 years sober. I found that to be a bit discouraging and I would think that most people would feel a bit more positive at the 2 year mark.
Of course we all have our ups and downs in recovery, not every day is going to be perfect, but I remember being fairly enthusiastic and optimistic in early recovery. So we started discussing the finer points of what actually produces “happiness” in recovery. Here are my thoughts on it:
Happiness is a product of positive action
Positive action. What do I mean by this? I would define positive action as anything that furthers our health, our life, and our recovery. Really when we speak of positive action we are talking about building self esteem.
For example, perhaps fear is holding you back from making growth in some area of your life. Pushing through that fear and confronting it might seem negative, but it’s actually positive action because it helps you to grow and thus builds self esteem. What we had built up in our mind as a negative circumstance was actually an opportunity in disguise.
Another good example is exercise. This is positive action in the sense that it promotes your physical health and also tends to energize people. Making this into a daily habit can be a very powerful strategy. Note that this also will build self esteem.
Those who suffer from low self esteem do not generally label themselves as being “happy,” so it makes sense to look at the problem from a standpoint of how to empower our lives and take positive action. In a sense, your attitude has to be one of actively creating your own happiness. It is your own responsibility to do so and those that embrace the challenge will tend to be more satisfied with how they feel.
Bad things and bad days happen. The key to overcoming them is gratitude.
Of course we will not be happy 100 percent of the time and bad days do happen. The key then of course is how we allow ourselves to react to the drama in our lives. Some of us have a tendency to over react to every little thing and basically delay our happiness.
We start playing a game that basically says “I will be happy when ____ is fixed in my life.” This mental twist prevents us from ever reaching happiness.
The solution? Embrace gratitude.
How do we embrace gratitude? Practice it every day. Use it in your prayers. Integrate gratitude into your life.
When gratitude becomes a daily habit, you change the lens through which you see the world. Problems become opportunities. Challenges become potential learning experiences. And your entire mindset shifts to one of optimism.
It’s easy to be happy when everything is coming up roses. The key to happiness is to maintain a sense of gratitude even through the hard times.
We should seek emotional balance. Happiness and serenity will follow
Should we seek happiness? Yes and no.
If we are chasing happiness in the same way that we chased that next high from drugs and alcohol, then we are in for a letdown. The answer is to strive for emotional balance and learn to appreciate life. This is gratitude. This is the mindset through which we can enjoy our life, regardless of what our circumstances are.
If we allow our happiness to be tied to our circumstances then we will never truly be happy. But if you can take positive action each day and focus on gratitude, then you will find peace and contentment in your life and only then will you truly be happy.