How to Find More Fulfillment and Joy in Recovery
People who enter recovery are often concerned about living sober and staying happy. Many have used substances during every social occasion and associate using and/or drinking with any type of fun. When they become sober, they may still attach having fun to substances rather than finding joy and fulfillment within themselves. It is a long process to learn how to sit with inner peace and wisdom, but mindfulness will help you get there. Letting go of old ideas and habits is healing and healthy. It helps bring more fulfillment and joy out of the challenges people face and overcome in recovery.
Recovery helps people look at their lives more holistically. When one thing is happening, it affects the whole person. Recovery organizations like AA, NA, and SMART Recovery help people tackle their substance use disorders and build community. Connecting to others is essential in recovery. Making friends who understand what it is like to go through difficulty is vital as old friends may enable bad habits. Many find the only thing that connected them to the friends they had before getting treatment was the habit of using itself. These friendships are not safe to bring into a life of recovery. Instead, it’s important to find connections based on who you are and what is important to you. Treatment has given you hope and determination to make the future better and now is an excellent time to forge new relationships in light of your new life. To get connected, it is crucial to find sober friendships and circles to engage with that help bring peace and hope to the journey of recovery.
Find New Hobbies
Fulfillment and joy come from seeking a deeper, more meaningful connection to yourself and others. Many people who struggle in recovery find they are not devoting time to doing what they love. They end up struggling to find spaces where they can be themselves and find hope again. Whatever people choose to do, the activities are time-consuming and require attention and focus, so don’t be discouraged when you don’t master a new hobby immediately. Learning the guitar takes time. Painting a mural, knitting, or working on a book all take time and effort, but the return is joy and fulfillment. Finding these new pastimes helps take the mind off substances and refocuses on the new hobbies and activities that get the creative juices flowing again.
A person can be more susceptible to relapse when exposed to environments where they drank or used. Early on in recovery, it is essential to be careful when out and around others. Getting sober does not mean throwing a person’s entire life away. It might mean paring down friends and family and being more aware of what restaurants or events you attend. A good friend recognizes it is not healthy to put people in a situation that puts sobriety at risk. It helps to offer ways to stay sober with friends that support recovery, and it gives you a sense of control and mitigates surprises. This might include:
- Keeping water or other non-alcoholic beverages with you.
- Being ready to remove yourself if you have to.
- Offering to be a designated driver.
- Knowing your favorite sober restaurants and social activities.
Make sure friends are on the same page and prepare for temptation. Go in knowing there may be triggers and cravings, but you will face it with a new focus and intention. If a situation becomes too stressful or temptation too strong, you will already have these tools in mind to keep you in control of your sobriety.
Joy and fulfillment can come from knowing there is a new life on the other side of recovery. Substance use disorders are harsh and take everything from people. Be excited for a new chapter, fresh opportunities, and recognize joy and happiness. How you think and react depends upon your perception, stay focused, and know change is good. Some key things to consider:
- What brought joy before might shift, and you may feel differently altogether.
- Think back to what brought you joy as a child before substance use came along.
- Embrace new activities and pastimes that will bring fulfillment.
- Don’t look back in regret at things that cannot change, see them as learning experiences, and move forward.
- Accept the new reality, and that lots of things may be uncomfortable at first, but always know things get better and more comfortable.
When people embrace what is here now rather than try to change it, they can find peace and understanding. Mindfulness brings more joy and fulfillment than anything else possibly could. Stop, look around, and recognize the beauty right in front of you. Think about the people or activities that make you happy. The goal is to find new ways of experiencing fulfillment and joy that support your goals. Enjoy your new life with the community and people who accept you for who you are.