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How to Experience Good Things in Recovery

inspirationIf you have a tendency to focus on the negative in life then it will mean that you are missing all the beauty around you. The key to happiness is not for you to keep on accumulating more and more stuff, but instead to learn how to appreciate all that you already have. This is not to say that you should give up trying to improve yourself or stop working to improve your situation, as you still need to do all of that stuff; however, it just means that you can enjoy the beauty that is there right now.

One of the main causes of dissatisfaction in western societies is a type of scarcity mentality. Advertisers are constantly bombarding people with things to buy, while the media is full of advice on how to improve your life – the message always seems to be that you are not okay now and need something to fix you. It means that no matter how much is achieved and how many possessions are owned, individuals can still feel as if there is something missing.

In Far Eastern countries like China, Thailand, and Vietnam, there is a myth about hungry ghosts. These are phantoms with large stomachs but very small mouths – the meaning of the saying is that these need to keep on eating but are never satisfied. People who fall into addiction are sometimes referred to as being like hungry ghosts, but the same description could be used for a lot more people in society.

So much dissatisfaction in the world today is due to the inability of individuals to see the good in their life. This lack of gratitude leads to unhappiness and can be particularly dangerous for those in recovery as it puts them at high risk of relapse. Below are just a few suggestions on how one can experience even great things in recovery.

Be More Selective about the Thoughts You Focus On

Your brain will be serving up thousands of thoughts and observations every day; some of these will be positive while some will be negative. You do not really have that much control over the type of thoughts that manifest in your brain, but you can have some choice of which of them you give most attention to. There is a popular belief that negative individuals are the way they are because they have a tendency towards focusing on negative thoughts. It actually makes sense that humans would want to do this because it makes them more alert to potential dangers, but it can also make life miserable. You can train your brain to focus more on positive thoughts and observations and it takes time and effort to do this, but it could completely change the way you see the world.

Practice Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is a powerful technique because it gives you the ability to see your thoughts in a more objective way. It means that you get to see how this mental chatter is not always so reliable and helpful but that the negative thoughts would be far less harmful if you were able to just let them be. The real problem starts when people start to obsess about certain thoughts or try to resist this mental chatter. Mindfulness meditation can also create an oasis of peace in your day, which can then start to influence the rest of your life.

Practice Loving Kindness Meditation

One aspect about loving kindness meditation is that it is a deliberate attempt to train your mind to focus on the positive. You are more or less working to create a sense of compassion for yourself and others. If you practice this regularly, you can even start to develop compassion for those individuals who usually annoy you. One of the most powerful effects of this type of meditation is that it allows you to develop self-compassion, making it easier for you to see the beauty that is already in your life today.

Keep a Daily Gratitude List

It might sound like a corny thing to do, but if you spend a few minutes each day writing down the positive things in your life, it will open your eyes to all the beauty around you. The problem is that many become numb to all the good in their lives – as the saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt. The nice thing about your gratitude list is that it will be a constant reminder of all that is positive. Once you get into the habit of seeing the good things, you will then be able to find more good things to add to your list. In order to get the most out of this practice, you do need to do it on a regular basis, preferably daily.

Develop a Process Orientated Approach to Life

Most people today seem to be goal-orientated. This means that they are so obsessed about achieving goals that they view the process of achieving these goals as something that gets in the way. This way of looking at things is sad, as individuals will spend far more of their time working towards goals than actually achieving them. This means spending most of one’s life just waiting for something to happen – as John Lennon famously sang, ‘life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans’.

A process-orientated approach to life means you still have goals but instead of these being your focus, they just become something to aim for. If you have this mind-set, you can start to really appreciate the process of achieving your goals and see it as an adventure. It also means you are going to be much better at dealing with failure as you can see that this too is just part of the process.

Do Nice Things for Others

The real beauty in life is to be found when you begin focusing more on others. It may sound illogical but the more you help others to achieve their happiness, the happier you are likely to become; this effort is also likely to strengthen your recovery. You do not have to make any grand gestures, but doing even small favours for people every day can have a huge impact on the amount of beauty you see in your life. It can get to the stage where you feel almost as happy about the successes of others as you do about your own success.

Spend More Time in Nature

Spending too much time indoors can lead to depression and lethargy. Humans have a built-in need to spend time in nature, so even just going for a walk can be incredibly therapeutic. It is recommended that you spend at least a few hours outdoors each week and even adding things like plants to your office space can make a difference.

Develop Your Spirituality

Spirituality does not have to be about adopting any particular set of beliefs or joining any particular religion. Just admiring the stars at night can be a type of spiritual experience. It is all about a feeling of awe and the idea of being connected to the universe in a way most people do not normally think about. If you feel uncomfortable with the word ‘spirituality’ then you can call it whatever you want, but it is a sense of being connected to something bigger.

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