10 Tips to Design a Purposeful Life in Recovery

10 Tips to Design a Purposeful Life in Recovery

Reading this title, you might think, “Ah! Only 10? Well, I’ve got this!” And enthusiasm is important. That said, no matter where you are in your recovery process, crafting a purposeful life takes thought, planning, action, and time—after all, what does inspiration look like, and how do you expand yours? What is most meaningful to you? We hope some of the suggestions below act as a launchpad for you to pursue what matters. 

First, What Is Purpose? 

Let’s take a moment to explore the concept. 

The Greater Good Science Center defines purpose as “an abiding intention to achieve a long-term goal that is both personally meaningful and makes a positive mark on the world.” It also points out that “like happiness, purpose is not a destination, but a journey and a practice. That means it’s accessible at any age if we’re willing to explore what matters to us and what kind of person we want to be—and act to become that person.”

The Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University states that “nearly everyone desires purpose, and yet we know remarkably little empirically about what leads to purpose in life,” but suggests that it’s about how people see their lives as having a sense of direction and goals that are anchored in core values. 

There’s tremendous value to having this objective, though. More of the program-cited studies indicate that people with “a higher sense of purpose display a heightened ability to curb impulsivity and report higher self-efficacy.” This conclusion could be a hopeful note for individuals in recovery. 

Understandably, not all people can identify their sense of purpose right away. Some are just trying to get by as best they can at the moment, especially if they have limited resources. Perhaps you felt like this at one point, too. The good news is you can always make small, incremental changes toward designing a more meaningful life—and improve your level of happiness in the process. 

The Action for Happiness (AFH) notes that “people who have a sense of meaning in life tend to experience more frequent and stronger positive emotions; feel more positive about the future; have greater life satisfaction; have higher psychological well-being; have more satisfying relationships; use their character strengths more and feel better about themselves.”

10 Tips to Design a Purposeful Life

What matters most to you will be the key that starts your inspiration engine, so there are no rules you have to follow or a “right” or “wrong” way in this process. However, research conducted by AFH indicates that many people find life more fulfilling when they incorporate the following aspects. Its site also has suggestions for how you can do this. 

  1. Giving. “If you want to feel good, doing good is a great place to start,” AFH states. And various studies support that giving back boosts recovery efforts, especially with causes that matter most to you. 
  2. Relating. You might already know how valuable social connections are, especially family, friends, and your sober network. But if you’ve not had an opportunity to deepen connections with others, give it a try. 
  3. Exercising. “Being physically active can help us manage, treat and even prevent depression and anxiety,” AFH notes. Plus, you can find purpose in movement-oriented events such as charity walks, park cleanups, and other volunteer efforts. 
  4. Awareness. How to cultivate more mindfulness may be something you learned in rehabilitation therapy, so stick with it: in addition to reducing stress, studies reinforce how it helps you cope with triggers and cravings, clearing the way for what you really want to accomplish. 
  5. Trying out. Explore a new hobby. Take a class. Improve a skill. Curiosity helps fuel your inspiration engine. 
  6. Direction. “Finding and working towards meaningful goals is a way of connecting the present to our future and research is showing how it can boost our happiness and well-being, too,” AFH says, and offers a goal-setting worksheet that might help.
  7. Resilience. Learning how to cope more constructively improves your mental health and overall outlook. 
  8. Emotions. Because our brains are hardwired to help us avoid threats, it tends to only see the negative. But certain positivity techniques, including practicing gratitude, balances this reaction and expands your outlook and thought process.  
  9. Acceptance. Nurturing ourselves through self-compassion and gaining a better understanding of our strengths and areas we need to work further defines what’s important in our lives.
  10. Meaning. And here you are! Every step you’ve taken so far brings you to this point and what purpose means to you.

Discover Wellness Redefined at Willingway

Willingway’s treatment philosophy is based on the belief that substance and alcohol misuse is a primary illness that affects mind, body, and soul. At our Georgia and Florida addiction rehabilitation locations, our board-certified professionals don’t define you by disease: we help you explore who you are and why living life without substances enhances your best self. Talk to our admissions team today if you’re ready to move forward in this way.