By Cheryl Steinberg
So you’re clean and sober and still you struggle with feeling happy, joyous, and free on a daily basis. First of all, it’s time to manage expectations. Not every day is going to be your best day; let’s face it: life shows up (a nicer way of saying “sh!t happens”).
On the bright side, there are healthy habits you could be cultivating in your sobriety that will have you enjoying life on a whole new level.
Here are 7 healthy habits for winning at life. The first three habits have to do with independence, specifically, self-mastery. The next three of the 7 healthy habits for winning at life have to do with interdependence, meaning how you go about working with others. And then the last healthy habit is all about continuous improvements that you make regarding yourself and your relationships.
#1. Be Proactive
Take initiative in life and think of yourself as the author of your own story. Nothing is happening to you (victim stance). Instead, empower yourself by being accountable and taking responsibility for your choices and the resulting consequences. Also, keep in mind that only you can control your happiness (or misery, if you so choose).
#2. Set Personal Goals and Aspirations
You’ve probably heard about ‘playing the tape through’ as a coping tool with regards to your recovery. Well, it can also apply to other aspects of your life. Discover and get clear on the person you want to aspire to be, by living a life aligned with your values. Picture ideal you and the ideal relationships you want to have in life. This will help with boundary-setting because you will get clear on who you want to keep in your life and to what extent. Remember, it’s OK to leave behind toxic people.
Using the guidelines you’ve set for yourself in habit #2 above, engage in actions that will set you up to achieve these. If the second habit is about the mental creation, habit three is the physical creation.
Interdependence: Working with Others
#4. Think Win-Win
Often times, we think that there can only be one winner and therefore the other person, by default, is the loser. This is not necessarily so. Adjust your perspective to consider the possibility that you can set up win-win situations in your relationships, whether it’s personal relationships, work relationships, and so on. Value and respect people by understanding a “win” for all is ultimately a better long-term solution than if only one person in the situation gets their way.
#5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
There’s a difference between listening and hearing in that one simply means that your sense of hearing was engaged while others were talking. The other means that you are actually listening to understand what is being said. Also, you are not just waiting your turn to talk.
By listening empathetically with an open mind, you are encouraging the other person to do the same. This creates an atmosphere of caring, and positive problem solving.
By combining strengths with others through positive teamwork, in order to achieve amazing outcomes and fulfill goals that no one could have accomplished on their own.
Continuous Improvements: Sharpen the Saw
#7. Be Better Than You Were Yesterday
This one is a lot like Steps 10 and 11 in which we continue to take personal inventory and seek to improve our conscious contact with a Higher Power, respectively. In doing so, we will continue to work on ourselves and strive to live and grow along spiritual lines. Mediation, yoga, and prayer can support us in achieving this.
Also a part of the 7th healthy habit is service to others for spiritual renewal. Again, something familiar since Step 12 reminds us to carry our spiritual principles in all our affairs to help our fellows.
It’s hard, if not impossible, to improve yourself and your circumstances in life while feeling buried under a substance abuse disorder like addiction. But, helping yourself and recovering from a life in active addiction is possible. And things only get better from there. Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist, day or night.