“A person is limited only by the thoughts that [they choose].”
― James Allen, As a Man Thinketh
Our perspective and frame of mind can have a massive impact on how we feel. We can put ourselves into a box of our own limitations or cultivate a sense of optimism that can be the seed of dynamic action. Our outlook this new year might be tainted by the circumstances going on in today’s world. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has changed and affected nearly every person in the country during 2020, we can build a positive frame of mind for 2021.
Being positive and optimistic does not mean that we deny reality. We can still be realistic and cautious. We can allow our thoughts of mourning and grief to come forward as we deal with change. However, we can choose to have positive thoughts about the future. Remember that events in the outside world are beyond our control. Viruses can affect our daily lives with shutdowns and job losses. We can lose loved ones or fear getting sick ourselves. However, even in the midst of chaos, we have the power and control to look for good things.
When we are struggling with an addiction, our struggle might become amplified during times of high stress and uncertainty. We might justify a relapse as our means of coping with the way the world is right now. The New Year’s holiday is traditionally a time of reflection on the past year and a time to move forward. We cannot change our past; however, we can choose to learn from it. Having a certain mindset is a choice; we decide how we view things. Did we make mistakes last year? Did we struggle due to the pandemic? How did we deal with our feelings? Were we making healthy choices with ease or fighting our cravings daily?
When looking forward to the new year, let’s chose optimism. Let’s look forward to a brighter future for ourselves. We can look back on the past without beating ourselves up. This is the choice that we get to make. We are creating our inner worlds and reflecting this back to the external world as we commit to making the best out of our current situations. We can choose to look for the good things happening in our lives and the opportunities that our mistakes can bring to us.
When we cultivate an optimistic mindset bent toward a brighter future, we can ground our positivity in the present moment. Right now, we can think of things in our life for which we are grateful. When we feel down or depressed—or tempted to use drugs or alcohol—we might have difficulty noticing the glimmer of hope that each new day presents. We can practice gratitude. Cultivating optimism is a skill that we can work on each day. What are we grateful for right now? Do we have a clean and safe place to live? Are we able to connect with our loved ones? Do we have unique talents or passions that define us?
Right now, before thinking about the future, think of what you are happy about at this moment. Look around you and notice all the good things that go on around you. You might be overwhelmed by the news of uncertainty, or the future might feel clouded. Optimism, though, can help us break through the fog. Expressing and acknowledging gratitude throughout the day helps to shift your focus. As you practice gratitude, you start to see more and more good things throughout your day. When you notice the small things that make your life joyous, these things add up and point you toward bigger and better things on your horizon.
While we might be basking in negativity and thinking that the new year will be just the same as the last one, we can change and choose happiness. At first, you might feel that this is difficult, especially if you are currently struggling. As you look ahead to the new year, where do you want your thoughts to be? Happiness is both a choice and a process. What kind of thoughts do you want to have by this time next year? Choose optimism, choose joy, and practice gratitude as you plan your goals and outcomes for the next year. You can live the life you have always wanted; the choice is up to you.
At the start of the new year, we can change our outlook on life and cultivate optimism for the future. In recovery, we might have days when we feel down or tempted to cope with drugs or alcohol. After a year with the COVID-19 pandemic and the stressors we have faced due to restrictions, fear of sickness, or watching loved ones struggle with the virus, we might need to cultivate a feeling of optimism more than ever. With all the things that have happened throughout 2020, feeling positive and picturing a brighter future for 2021 might be a struggle. However, during times like these, optimism might be more important than ever. We can practice gratitude and work on building a positive mindset. Sometimes, we might need help from others or support when things get challenging. If you are struggling due to addiction, The Kimberly Center is here for you. Call us today at (855) 452-3683.