We can not solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Albert Einstein


In battling the trials and tribulations of life in general, it is easy to mistake pitfalls for craters to never be escaped from, bottomless pits that drain the fight from the soul. This is especially true in battling the monster that is addiction and substance abuse. It is easy to become overwhelmed and downtrodden and difficult to realize that while you may be beaten, you can not truly be broken, for where there’s a will there’s a way.

This is why optimism is so important in overcoming addiction, and a positive attitude is a key factor in deciding how one handles the stress and triggers of everyday life. After all, you can’t live a positive life with a negative mind. There are a variety of health benefits associated with positive thinking, such as longevity of life, better cardiovascular health and resistance to the common cold, and all-around improved physical and psychological well-being. However, looking on the bright side may be easier said than done.

Some things to keep in mind for the sake of remaining optimistic on the road to recovery:

  1. You have a disease; you are not a disease. You have fingernails, but you are not a fingernail.
  2. Life will throw you plenty of challenges that are beyond your control. While you can’t control the cards you are dealt, you can control how you play them. Focus on your power; for that which is beyond your control, focus on your reaction.
  3. Remember that you may be down, but will never be out so long as you keep trying. You can fall down seven times but each time you stand up again matters, is important, and is a step in the right direction.
  4. Comparing your life to what could, should or would have been will do nothing but cause you suffering. Do not look back and think of the possibilities of differences; focus on what you can do with today, for that’s all you really have and all that really matters.
  5. Know that it is never too late to change your life for the better. If you are at rock bottom, you can only ascend from there.
  6. It is okay to have bad days. Not only do bad days make us appreciate good ones, but they teach us valuable lessons about our own triggers and what to look for in suppressing and managing them.
  7. Be grateful for what you do have. If you can’t find anything in your life that stands out to you, think of one single thing that makes you happy; an activity, a person, a place, even just a smell or a feeling. A life of gratitude is a happy life.

The old tried and true saying is to look for the “silver lining” in gray clouds that loom overhead. The secret that nobody tells you is to be thankful for the gray clouds too, for there can be no rainbows, nor growth, without rain.

Optimism is a force multiplier. The more you look for the bright side, the more shadows recess so you can see that most of the darkness is in your head. In overcoming addiction, addressing any underlying issues with mental health is key in a successful recovery. If you or a loved one are feeling downtrodden and need some help looking for the bright side in managing issues with substance abuse, St. John’s Recovery Place can help.