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I was reading this morning from a wonderful book I recently bought called “1,000 Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently” by Marc & Angel Chernoff. They also have an excellent daily blog which I highly recommend that contains sound, positive and simple advice for creating a new mindset when it comes to living our lives. One of their topics was, “The most effective way to move away from something you don’t want, is to move toward something you DO want.” This one sentence speaks volumes and is so easily applicable to those of us in recovery. An easy example that Marc and Angel use to begin their discussion of this is the desire for a chocolate donut. If you are attempting to lose weight, for instance, and you say to yourself, “Don’t think about eating that chocolate donut,” suffice it to say you are going to be thinking about the chocolate donut, not just when you try to command yourself NOT to think about eating it, but often moments after such a comment. The inner mind has a tendency to rebel from such commands as don’t, must, should, etc.

Now, when it comes to our attempts to avoid and abstain from using, often when we say things like, “Don’t think about having that drink,” we end up often obsessing about the drink, triggering those complex inner mechanisms that attempt to spur us and entice us into a relapse. One of the best keys to freeing ourselves from this type of compulsive inner chatter, is to gently move our mind toward something we do want. Perhaps we are thirsty and an effervescent glass of sparkling Saratoga water poured over ice with a lemon slice would greatly satisfy our momentary thirst. It is so refreshing and hydrating to our bodies. And, let us not forget that when we are in recovery, whether it is Day 1 or Day 1000 or 10,000 – our minds can trick us into romanticizing just how good that substance would feel if we could only imbibe one more time. This trick is quite simply a complete lie. Whenever this ‘hoax’ presents itself, go ahead and let it have its brief moment of attempted revival and say to yourself that I am so much better off without succumbing to this urge. The worst, hardest day or moment sober is certainly infinitely better than our romanticized version of the best day using. Let this mischievous thought pass – because it will if we let it. Sometimes, just getting up from our stationary position -–a chair, the couch, the bed – walking and breathing deeply, is such a positive technique to say goodbye to any type of urging thought.

I firmly believe that many of us never really learned how to ‘think’ or should I say, think beneficially for ourselves. We often did not learn mindful techniques to free our thoughts from a negative or destructive form of thought pattern, sometimes obsessive in nature, towards a helpful and positive mindset. Sure, we learned how to memorize, calculate, take tests, move through school and into the workplace, often adapting our mind skills to what was needed for that moment. That’s all fine and well, and I definitely am not criticizing this. I did the same throughout my life. What I am simply trying to point out is that when it comes to thinking positively – we didn’t really learn how to turn away certain thoughts and introduce other inner reflections and ‘brainwaves,’ and modifying our attitude and outlook – in the moment. Moreover, it is not about controlling our thoughts – just like saying, “don’t do this or don’t think about that” - it is about gently shifting our transient contemplation toward an altered, positive, constructive path. Remember, each thought we have that passes through our minds, produces a correlative set of physical, emotional and biological reactions. When we obsess over a thought, such as ‘taking that pill,’ a pill that we know would produce an immediate relapse, we often are stuck right there with that one thought, spinning and percolating within ourselves. This type of thinking process is draining to our inner energy and often becomes the culprit towards making recovery so very difficult. And, let me please point out – recovery is often as difficult as we want to make it. I would never underplay the pain and challenges that ensue during the early days of setting foot on the recovery path. That would be romanticizing what early recovery is. There are distinct challenges, heartaches and tumultuous periods when freeing ourselves from addiction. But, there is also so much support present and around us. And if we are determined to help ourselves along this new journey, many of those supposed pitfalls and sufferings can be put to rest or at least assuaged, and the positive aspects of living sober and clean will become increasingly apparent to ourselves.

Let’s try today, to focus on positive things we want in our lives and start to gently move our minds towards making these ideas manifest into a reality for ourselves. Writing a daily list in a journal is quite helpful for some. Movement, physically and mentally, is so very important towards sustaining our optimistic journey in recovery. That’s why getting up out of our chair, bed, couch, etc. and walking, moving, exercising, breathing, eating healthy, reading uplifting and encouraging material is so vital. One of the best things any of us can do in recovery that will always change our daily outlook is to go to a meeting. A simple reading, a simple "share" among good people and healthy fellowship, will always prove to be a practice of learning to move our mindset from a negative and potentially destructive posture, towards a healthy and freeing one – one day at a time. 

Until next time, practice thinking positive thoughts, stay sober and clean, go to a meeting and share, breath the outdoor air often, move the body, and contemplate the happier life you are moving toward through your daily pledge of Unconditional Recovery….One Day At A Time….One Moment At A Time. You deserve the happiness that ensues from living clean and sober and those around you deserve to see once again the real you.