This post is by Natalie Baker and was published by Recovery.org
We all want to be happy, but happiness doesn’t always come easy – especially when we’ve relied on drugs and alcohol for that perceived “happiness” in the past. Leaving behind a life we’re familiar with can be scary and challenging at first, but it doesn’t mean we can’t be satisfied and fulfilled with a new, sober lifestyle. Just ask Justin Kan, a 35-year-old entrepreneur who recently gave up alcohol completely and has never been happier. Here, we share some of his tips, as well as some of ours.
Upon becoming sober, we’re faced with dozens of thoughts and emotions that we don’t know how to handle, especially since we’ve resorted to numbing them with drugs and alcohol in the past. Meditation is an excellent practice to clear the mind and focus. After a few minutes of practice each day, you’ll have a clearer idea of what you want to achieve, without feeling like your mind is muddled. Plus, you’ll feel like you have more control over your thoughts and actions, which is great for someone new to recovery.
Have an Attitude of Gratitude
Research shows that gratitude is consistently associated with greater happiness. This is because it helps people feel more positive emotions, build strong relationships and relish good experiences. To practice gratitude, Kan uses an app called The Five Minute Journal, which asks you every morning to name three things you are grateful for, as well as three things you are going to do that day to make it great. Focusing on all the positive things in your life, rather than the negative, helps you keep everything in perspective when you’re hit with a setback or obstacle.
Sweat it Out
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which create a natural high. Doing so regularly gives you more energy and enhanced feelings of well-being – all which make life much more enjoyable and manageable. As you reach certain exercise milestones, you’ll feel more accomplished, which will empower you to believe that long-term sobriety, too, is attainable.
This one’s a big one, and one that can be very difficult for some people to do. But the truth is, holding onto grudges only hurts yourself. Letting go of pain and resentment towards yourself and others lifts a weight off your shoulders and makes way for happiness to settle into your heart.
Talk it Through
Bottling your emotions can have negative effects on your emotional and physical health, but unfortunately, some people don’t have a close, impartial person they can confide in. A therapist is a great way to talk things through, release buried emotions, bounce ideas off of and learn some tips geared at self-improvement.
Put Down the Phone
Technology has found its way into every aspect of our lives, and although this can be a good thing, it can also be overwhelming to keep up with. The endless stream of notifications, texts and emails we receive daily keeps the mind on high alert, so much so that you can never truly relax. Stepping away from your phone, then, can really give you a chance to be present in whatever situation you’re in and be actively engaged in everything around you.
We know – change is hard. But personal change happens one day at a time, so if you’re looking to get happier, make that first step. It’s all about progress, not perfection.