Optimism in Recovery

How to Harness and Promote Optimism in Recovery

Estimated watch time: 2 mins 56 secs


Viewing life through a lens of pessimism can hold you back. Optimism can help you move forward in a positive way. This video guides you through increasing your positive thinking. At the same time, you’ll work on recognizing and refuting negative thinking.

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Optimism is a belief that good things will happen in the future. It is a tendency to expect a favorable outcome.

The opposite of this is pessimism, which is believing the worst will happen. It is an inclination to emphasize adverse aspects, conditions and possibilities.

Optimism does not mean you do not need the potential negative consequences; it is a matter of being more focused on the positive and putting more attention and time toward the potential gains. People who are optimistic tend to see negative consequences or negative outcomes as temporary, something that just did not work out, whereas a pessimist tends to see a negative outcome as occurring because there is something wrong with him or her and that this negative outcome will always occur.

It is, as you can imagine, much easier to move forward or toward something when we expect this action to have a positive outcome. When we are expecting a negative outcome, we tend to want to sit still or back away. And, research shows that having a more optimistic view on life improves our physical health and our mental health.

Some of us are naturally more optimistic and some of us are more naturally pessimistic. So, the question becomes, can we learn to be more optimistic? And, the answer is yes, we can. We can learn to increase our positive thinking and we can learn to refute our negative thinking. We learn to notice our negative thinking and challenge the reality of these thoughts. And, we learn to insert a positive thought.

The first step is to notice your negative thoughts. Then you can ask yourself questions like these below:

  • Is this a useful way to be thinking?
  • Is this thought really true?
  • Is this thought making things worse for me?
  • How else can I think about this?

If you are not sure how else to think about it, ask a friend to provide a different perspective. If you are a religious or spiritual person, you can ask for guidance from God or Spirit or the Universe and see what comes to mind for you.

You can begin to form more positive thoughts by asking:

  • What can I learn from this?
  • What can I do to help myself feel better?
  • Who can I call for some assistance?

Notice what was good about the scenario. Work to stay out of focusing only on the negative. See the event in a well-rounded way.

Practice writing a daily gratitude journal, naming three things you are grateful for in each day. You can do this on your own or find a friend to send a gratitude text to each day and receive one back from them.

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Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.