As alcoholics and addicts well know, do anything long enough and it becomes a matter of habit- and appreciating life is a very good habit. In fact it goes deeper than that because just having a good recovery program with set goals is not the complete package. To remain positive and avoid despondency, one must learn how to be introspective and not only have the ability to recognize the incremental changes and achievements of life in recovery but to also realize that even negative events are less severe relative to the what would have happened in the past. Think of it as insurance against the addictive thinking that will always be there in bad times whispering in one’s ear “is this as good as it gets” or “what have you done for me lately?”
As my friend Patrick over at the Spiritual River says, learning how to “cultivating gratitude” is an important part of the recovery process. I like the way he uses the term cultivate, because it is necessarily a long term process where one retrains the brain from negative, addictive thinking to a positive mindset.
I found out though there’s another benefit to learning more about myself and appreciating life though, and that is consciously recognizing what I don’t like. Over the last fifteen years I have discovered many things about myself including things I thought I was supposed to desire, but didn’t. I don’t like sandy beaches or basking in the sun. I don’t like convertibles or motorcycles. Just writing these statements or saying them out loud seems a little strange because it makes me sound like a nonconformist or even un-American. The latter seems especially true considering that I also don’t like baseball or apple pie, but don’t worry mom you’re still on the VIP list.
It may sound negative but it’s really not at all, instead I like to think of it as an exercise of discovery and building self confidence. No longer affected by what the Jones’ are doing or swayed by latest get rich/happy infomercial and I am that much happier for it. Now I am not suggesting everyone go about making lists of what they don’t like as a recovery tool, but the recognition of these things has strengthened my self confidence/identity and allowed me to concentrate on those things in life that actually do make me happy.