If you’ve recently completed medical detox, you have every reason to hope this new year will be your best year ever. However, just as with getting detoxed, you can’t expect the “perfect life” to fall into your lap—you have to work at it. Here are ten things you can resolve to do every day starting now, to ensure your year and your life keep getting better.
1. Count your blessings.
That may sound clichéd, but one reason concepts become clichés is that they work. Science agrees that appreciating what you have reaps enormous benefits in happiness, health and personal achievement, while people who dwell on life’s unfairnesses make more and more problems for themselves—and are more likely to resort to unhealthy coping methods such as drug abuse. Keep a journal where you record, daily, 3–10 things you’re glad to have.
2. Accept the unchangeable.
The classic Serenity Prayer, used by Alcoholics Anonymous and many other support groups and detox clinic programs, begins, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” The serenity to accept the things I cannot change … Fighting the unchangeable, from an inconvenient red light to the unfair way someone treated you years ago, accomplishes nothing except to make you unhappy and hard to be around. Let the past go, be patient with present frustrations, and focus on something worthwhile you can do or appreciate.
3. Follow goals that call to your passions.
The courage to change the things I can … If you’re recovering from addiction, checking yourself into a detox clinic was one of the most courageous decisions you ever made. To keep up your courage and keep changing for the better, make a list of things you’ve always wanted to do and practice “seeing” yourself actually doing them. Never mind how much time or effort it will take; just get started moving in the right direction every day. And don’t say you can’t do it. If it really speaks to your heart—not just your immediate sense of pleasure or convenience—your heart knows you can do it.
4. Influence others, don’t bully them.
And the wisdom to know the difference … Probably no aspect of life draws more confusing lines between what you can and can’t change than your relationships with other people. You can get people to do what you want with threats, guilt trips or counting on their being too embarrassed to leave the mess you aren’t cleaning up (ask anyone from a family with one or more “addiction enablers”), but if their thinking changes as a result, it’s not in the direction of agreeing with you. Everyone has a substantial amount of “what’s in it for me” in their overall attitude toward life, and nothing you do or say will change that in anyone else.
While you ultimately have no control over anyone else’s attitude or actions, you can influence them to think your way if you practice thinking their way. If you want a favor, phrase your request in terms of how it (or whatever you can give back) will benefit the other party as well as you. If you’re angry at someone, don’t just decide they’re thoughtless and hopeless; consider (or ask) why they might have acted as they did. Above all, be kind to everyone and give them the benefit of the doubt whenever possible—and you’ll get as much back.
5. Make amends for your mistakes at the level they deserve—no less and no more.
Regardless of what public figures seem to believe, one honest admission of fault will get you more respect than a thousand excuses. If you did something seriously stupid, along the lines of relapsing into “just one drink” that turned into three and then smashing your partner’s new car into the garage, ask for forgiveness and do whatever it takes to repair the situation. Including going back to medical detox now rather than later.
In the more likely scenario of a minor mistake, let it go with a quick “Excuse me” and don’t spend the rest of the day berating yourself. You don’t expect others to be 100% flawless—don’t expect it of yourself.
6. Take risks.
Not all mistakes are the sort that require apologies—some are part of the natural trial and error required to achieve anything significant, and if you’re afraid to risk any setbacks, you doom yourself to life in a rut. Unacceptable risks do exist (and some solutions create new problems, as anyone knows who wound up in a heroin replacement rehab as the aftermath of a heroin detox program), but they are far fewer than most people think. It’s not unacceptable to have others laugh at you. It’s not unacceptable to have to “try, try again” a hundred times. It’s not unacceptable to try something you love that looks impossible (see point 3 on goals, above). Be brave enough to “fail” a few times for the sake of becoming a stronger person in the end.
7. Seek out positive input.
Make optimistic friends and avoid gripe sessions. Read or watch something inspirational and affirming, and limit your time with the news. Remind yourself regularly of your and others’ good qualities. Believe in your future and the future of the world. What you expect from life will determine the quality of your life.
8. Foster healthy relationships.
Besides practicing empathy (see point 4 above), make quality and quantity time for being with your friends and loved ones. Do things together you both enjoy. When you leave work, really leave it and take time to go home for a leisurely family dinner. Talk seriously, and listen carefully, at every opportunity. Even if you’ve shared a household with someone for twenty years, get to know them at deeper and deeper levels—there’s always a story you haven’t heard or a yearning that’s never been expressed.
9. Practice healthy physical habits.
Alcohol and drugs may not be the only unhealthy substances you need to stop putting into your body. Avoid smoking, even e-cigarettes. Have a real breakfast with whole grains, protein and fruit, instead of coffee and a glazed doughnut. Practice non-drug techniques for relieving pain or sleeping well. Go to bed before midnight and take exercise and rest breaks during the day.
10. Receive every day as a world of fresh opportunities.
The annual “New Year’s season” lasts just a few weeks, but every morning from February to December starts with a clean slate. It doesn’t matter if you neglected all the above habits yesterday or even for the past month—you can start living your own “best year ever” right now. All that matters is never giving up on the possibilities—or on yourself.
If you or a loved one are not yet detoxed and want to start 2018 off right by getting there, Inland Detox offers alcohol, benzodiazepine, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and prescription drugs. Call (888) 739-8296 for further information.