When you begin a substance abuse treatment program, finding fulfillment in recovery may be the furthest thing on your mind. However, as you progress and celebrate each small win, a sense of personal satisfaction is likely to arise. You’ll start to realize that it is possible to find meaning and fulfillment throughout your journey.
What is Personal Fulfillment?
According to an article on AHealthyPlace.com, personal fulfillment is a “profound and persistent satisfaction with yourself and your situation.”1 The article quotes Stephen Covey, who said that the fundamentals to human fulfillment can be summed up by the phrase, “to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy.”
The Keys to Finding Fulfillment in Recovery
Finding fulfillment isn’t necessarily easy, and recovery brings its own set of challenges. You’ll need to seek fulfillment and recognize it when you achieve it. Fulfillment in recovery is well within your reach, especially if you approach it with acceptance, gratitude and a willingness to step out of your comfort zone.
To maximize your personal fulfillment, use the following tips:
- Accept your current situation
- It’s okay to have feelings
- Practice gratitude
- Challenge yourself to grow
- Live in the present
- Gain perspective
- Give to others
Acceptance is one of the core tenets of recovery. It opens our minds to new possibilities.2 Accepting what you cannot control is helpful in preventing yourself from reacting out of frustration, anger, denial or other negative emotions.
Acceptance doesn’t mean ignoring how you feel. An article on Psychology Today explains that “Feeling sadness and getting comfortable with needing and loving are good. Finding people who can receive and reciprocate love are often goals in treatment.”3
Keep a gratitude journal and make a habit out of being grateful for something each day, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time.
You’ve already done this by entering into recovery, so celebrate that fact! Now, keep the momentum going by challenging yourself to grow and improve. This doesn’t mean setting lofty or unattainable goals, but rather being open to new ideas.
Practice being mindfully present and fully aware of your surroundings. This can help you become more engaged with others or develop an appreciation for whatever is going on at the time. Increased engagement, in turn, could translate into increased happiness and fulfillment in recovery.
Fulfillment can come from something like connecting to something larger than yourself like “swimming in the vastness of the ocean.”4 This can help put trivial complaints into perspective. Getting out into nature is an excellent way to do this. Hiking or stargazing are two activities that can nurture your soul.
Many people find fulfillment in recovery through volunteer work and other charitable endeavors. This can be anything from serving soup at a homeless shelter or becoming a docent at a museum to simply being there to support another person in recovery. Not only does service to others help the greater good, it feels good. It’s fulfilling. It can also help you to feel more connected, forge more meaningful relationships with others, increase compassion and gain a fresh perspective.