September is National Recovery Month

The Power Of Positive Psychology In Addiction Treatment

woman practicing positive psychology Happiness is not having what you want, but happiness is wanting what you have. This quote really embodies positive psychology, a kind of therapy that emphasizes the positive details in a person’s life. Have you ever been really happy about something, and you walk into a room, and your happiness seems to spread like wildfire? Happiness is contagious. You could take that to the bank! In this regard, happiness is more than a feeling, it is a power. Positive psychology teaches someone the most effective methods to spread happiness. 

Positive psychology attempts to harness this power and inundate a person with positivity. You can study volumes and volumes of textbooks concerning positive psychology, but in the end, it could all be summed up in two words – positive thinking. 

There is conclusive evidence that feelings are linked with consequences. Positive demeanors result in better health and longer lives. But on the flip side, negative emotions are linked with poorer health and shorter lives. 

But what about addiction? Can changing a depressed woman’s mindset to be positive and happy result in sobriety? This article will examine this question. How can the power of the brain and the power of our thought process affect addiction? This article will also examine the fundamentals of positive psychology. What is the history of positive psychology? What are the applications of positive psychology? How can a recovering woman seek gratitude in recovery? 

What is Positive Psychology?

As mentioned above, positive psychology is essentially positive thinking. If a person is able to think positively, good things will happen to them. We all know a “Debbie Downer”, someone who is constantly depressed, and as a result, is always spewing negative thoughts and ideas. For Debbie, the glass is always half empty. Unless Debbie Downer has already persuaded your mindset, chances are, you don’t like to hang out with her. You avoid her. As does everyone in her life. As a result, Debbie will spend a lot of time alone, with nothing to do but mull over her negativity. If Debbie understood what is positive psychology her life would undoubtedly be better.

Happiness does not come from how fast of a car you drive, or how much money you have, or how cute your date is to the movies. Someone living under a bridge and eating a can of beans can be much happier than the person living on their own island. If happiness is not attained through how much we own, or how much we are loved, how does a person become happy?

Positive psychology is a relatively new form of psychology that attempts to supply satisfaction and meaning, by emphasizing the positive influences in a person’s life. A person might argue that they have no reason to be happy with life. However, they do have some positive influences. The person may not pay much consideration to these positive influences, but they certainly exist in everyone. Sadness is just a juxtaposition of happiness. We are not sad, we are just not happy. 

The Essentials of Positive Psychology

Positive psychology uses the scientific method to unravel what makes the patient happy, and hence, allows the patient to reconstruct their mindset positively. This seemingly difficult task is achieved through three simple areas.

Pleasant Life

exercising gratitude in recovery

This task requires women to devote more energy to positive memories, feelings, and experiences. One should not lie in bed at night focusing on what they did wrong that day or on the unpleasant uncertainty of tomorrow. Such a train of thought would undoubtedly lead to a bad night of sleep. Instead, people should indulge themselves in things that make them happy. 

Positive psychology not only teaches one to identify the actions and thoughts that make one happy, but to increase the duration as well as the intensity of these pleasures. People are often drawn to happiness shortcuts, like drugs, or shopping, or gambling. These things will briefly make us happy, but when they have worn off, we are less happy than we were before we started.

Engaged Life

True happiness is not attained by just pressing play to our favorite song, or eating our favorite meal, or even being with our favorite person. If attaining happiness was that simple, no one would ever be sad. Happiness requires much more. So often, we can be with the love of our life, but for one reason or another, we allow other thoughts or events to belittle our perceptions of happiness.

An engaged life is one in which we are engaged with that which makes us happy. Think of a bunch of kids during preschool watching a clown dance across a stage. Nothing else in the entire world will take away the smile from each child’s face. They are completely engaged with what makes them happy. The Positive Psychology therapist’s task at hand is to figure out what makes their patient happy. Everyone is different. The same task will not engross everyone.

Martin Seligman, the pioneer of positive psychology, has outlined six particular virtues that are capable of engaging a person. 

  • Spirituality
  • Wisdom
  • Courage
  • Temperance
  • Justice
  • Love

According to Seligman, most people can become engaged with one of the previous six virtues. A person must first acknowledge what their highest strengths are, and then re-craft their lives so that everything correlates with their virtues. In other words, engage one’s life with their highest strengths.

Meaningful Life

The third dimension of happiness, according to the tenets of positive psychology is a meaningful life. What are the strengths and virtues delineated in the passage above that make you a better person? Life becomes meaningful when we can take these virtues and use them to serve something grander than ourselves. According to positive psychology, true happiness is achieved when a person uses their strengths to benefit something bigger than themselves. The larger the thing one could benefit, potentially, the happier their life will be.

The fundamental canon fueling positive psychology is the belief that using our strengths to benefit someone or something else will bring happiness to a person as well as a sense of meaning to their soul. 

What is the History of Positive Psychology?

According to GoodTherapy, in 1998 Martin Seligman, as President of the American Psychological Association, introduced much of the psychology community to his concept of positive psychology. It was not until his book, Authentic Happiness, was published in 2002, that positive psychology became popular across the world. 

Gradually, positive psychology began to gain popularity. In fact, in 2006, Professor Tal Ben-Shahar’s positive psychology course was the most popular class offered at Harvard. 

What can Positive Psychology do for Addiction?

This article has yet to even mention addiction. However, if the reader has gotten this far into the article, chances are, they have a good idea as to how positive psychology can help eliminate the power of addiction inside a person. It is a fact that addiction recovery plans are more successful with the aid of positive psychology.

The purpose of positive psychology is to allow people to focus on positivity as opposed to negativity. Addiction, by definition, is a form of negativity that positive psychology attempts to divert. Positive psychology teaches gratitude in recovery. A positive outlook diminishes the power of addiction.

According to psychology today, positive psychological approaches are effective in achieving long-term addiction recovery goals. In addition,

“Positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.”

Positive psychology strives to reprogram someone suffering from addiction. The idea of happiness should shift their thoughts from consuming their drug of choice to doing good things for society or for their church or their family. Essentially, they will be looking for a bigger cause than themselves. Most women suffering from addiction would laugh at the thought that such a transformation could take place in themselves. However, positive psychology is very possible. Given the correct addiction recovery plan, even the most disagreeable individual suffering from addiction could find sobriety with positive psychology.

How Does Positive Psychology Treat Addiction?

Someone going through recovery with a positive attitude is more likely to reach favorable outcomes than another person going through recovery with a negative attitude. Of course, this is easier said than done. Who goes through rehab with a positive attitude, struggling with painful withdrawal symptoms?

It is easier for patients to rehab with a positive demeanor, if the counselors and therapists that they are interacting with are constantly practicing positive psychology. Gratitude in recovery is therapeutic. New Directions for Women, for example, reinforces the belief to their patients that their addiction is a disease and could be treated. Thus, making it easier for the patients to reframe their negative situation into a positive one.

Research illustrates that positive psychology can result in lower stress as well as a lower alcohol craving for those who are alcohol-dependent

We Can Help You Learn More About Positive Psychology! 

Positive psychology is only a few decades old, but already the fundamentals at the core of the science have proven to be immensely successful at defeating addiction. In terms of addiction treatment, positive psychology is a different sort of solution. Essentially, positive psychology aims to supply satisfaction in life by making individuals appreciate the gift of spreading happiness.

Many rehabilitation facilities, such as New Directions for Women, appreciate the benefits of this psychology. Therapists remind patients of what makes them happy, and then, discover methods in which the individual can spread this happiness to a bigger cause than themselves, like their community or their church or for a noble foundation. The possibilities are endless. Happiness has no bounds.

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