Sobriety does not promise us happiness but that should be the ultimate goal. After all, what use is it to get sober if you’re still living a miserable life?
Finding happiness is a process that requires lots of time, effort, and personal change, but it’s worth it. If you recently completed a drug detox program or you got sober on your own, your life probably looks very different now. However, that doesn’t mean everything is perfect.
Many people go through difficult times in early sobriety as they complete drug rehab, establish a new lifestyle, and struggle through strong cravings and long-lasting anxiety or depression. There are so many great things about being sober, but simply quitting your drug of choice doesn’t guarantee you happiness.
‘It’s not uncommon for people to believe that getting sober will solve all their problems, when, in reality, lasting recovery is a whole-person process. As individuals identify unhealthy mindsets, work through trauma, and uncover the true causes of their addiction, they also work toward finding their purpose in life and being happy,’ says Mat Gorman, CEO of Eudaimonia Recovery Homes.
If you’re searching for purpose, meaning, and fulfilment in your new sober life, here are seven ways you can find your way to true happiness in sobriety:
Take time to reflect on how far you’ve come
Often, it’s easy to forget how far you come and how hard you’ve worked to become the person you are today. Sure, you’re not perfect, but you’ve come leaps and bounds from where you were. Consider the person you were just one year or six months ago and look at how far you’ve come since then. All that progress didn’t happen on accident, so take some time to reflect on the process, be thankful for where you are, and look forward to the future as you continue working toward your personal growth and goals.
Spend your time pursuing things that bring you joy
Spending all your time sleeping and watching your favourite shows is sure to lend itself to a less than fulfilling life. On the other hand, strategically using your free time to pursue hobbies and activities that bring you joy will contribute to your overall happiness and well-being. Previously, you may have used all your spare time to get high or drunk, but now you have the chance to try new things, establish a routine, and develop your interests. This will bolster your self-esteem and also help you find your purpose in life as you discover your passions.
Let go of the victim mentality
Many times drug and alcohol abuse serve as an escape from reality when life becomes difficult. Trauma such as abuse, emotional neglect, or natural disasters can cause lasting damage and contribute to a victim mentality. While trauma is real and usually requires professional help to overcome, letting go of the victim mentality can help pave the way to healing. By identifying as a victim, you are letting other people and circumstances define your happiness and what becomes of your life. Instead, making peace with these things can help you separate yourself from them and move forward with your life. As a result, you’ll also take responsibility for your own happiness.
Committing to practising gratitude daily means you take on an attitude of positivity by remembering to be thankful for something every day and choosing to make life great. By focusing on the positive things in your life, rather than the negative, you’ll be better equipped to maintain a healthy perspective when things get tough. This can be as simple as keeping a gratitude journal, vocalising gratitude statements every morning before you get out of bed, or making it a priority to change your mindset daily.
Strive for progress, not perfection
You’ll never be perfect no matter how hard you try, but fortunately, you don’t have to be perfect to be happy. What’s most important is that you are growing and changing. With personal growth will come change and healing. Prioritising progress over perfection could mean just trying to do better than you did the day before or re-defining what perfection means to you.
Invest in relationships
It’s important to feel like you belong. Without a sense of belonging, you may feel displaced, alone, and disconnected. Although it may seem easier to go it alone, having a supportive and like-minded community in life often provides more value than we realise. Investing in genuine, healthy relationships provides healthy interaction, camaraderie, and reminds you that you’re not alone in life. As you speak your truth with the people you care about, you’ll watch your life blossom. And good, wholesome relationships make life so much more fulfilling.
Forgive yourself and others
One of the primary keys to your happiness is learning how to forgive yourself and others for past hurt. Holding on to grudges is tempting, but when it comes down to it, it will only cause more hurt and keep you from moving forward with your life. Letting go of resentment and anger is not easy and may take weeks, months, or even years to work through, but choosing forgiveness will ultimately create more space in your life for joy and happiness.
Although there is no simple recipe for finding happiness in sobriety, taking the steps listed above is a great way to begin healing and start the process.
Image credit: Freepik
Peter Wallace has been an advocate for mental health awareness for years. He holds a master’s degree in counselling from the University of Edinburgh.