Vitality: An Important Aspect of Joyful Recovery

“Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, American author of novels and short stories, best-known as the author of The Great Gatsby (1896-1940)

Does it sometimes seem as if we don’t have the will to go on? Not in the sense that we’re ready to give up, but more along the lines of being really tired, lacking energy and enthusiasm. Could it be that the spark of living, the joie de vivre, is missing? If so, what can we do to generate it or recapture it?

Is this even necessary in recovery?

Well, to be sure, we can definitely get by without loving life. But who wants to just get by? What kind of life is that, whether we’re new to recovery or have been in recovery for many years?

Look around us in the 12-step rooms. Who do we most admire? What traits do those individuals seem to have in common? Is it the fellow next to the door who’s always quick to shake our hands, clap us on the back, welcoming us or saying good-bye – and who’s successfully overcome chronic addiction, multiple medical complications, a non-existent family and financial ruin? What about our sponsor or other fellow group members? Those whom we most want to emulate likely have one similar trait: they live in vitality.

This does not imply, by any means, that these individuals don’t have any challenges to overcome. Their lives certainly aren’t without problems. No one in recovery lives like that. We all have experiences on every point of the spectrum. Some issues or problems we can easily rise above, while others threaten to do us in and jeopardize our sobriety. But the truly successful individuals in recovery seem to possess a resiliency, a boundless optimism – even in the face of challenges and difficulty, and an inner spark that shines through their faces and gives the rest of us hope.

Maybe where they got this vitality is from their own experience. Every person in recovery has ups and downs. When we’re down, having experienced a challenge or difficulty, if we persist and don’t give up, we’re more likely to succeed in overcoming it. Maybe we don’t succeed that time, but we still don’t give up. Instead, we pursue our course of action with renewed vigor and determination. We learn from our mistakes and become stronger in the process.

That’s the kind of experience that may result in vitality. It’s certainly something to keep in mind the next time we find ourselves up against the wall trying to deal with the unexpected problem or issue that’s come our way. Look back on what worked effectively for us before. There are probably some things we can use in our recovery toolkit, based on our own experience.

Keep track of our successes as well, since this all helps to boost our self-confidence – and build our sense of vitality. Life is, after all, worth living. And we definitely want to live it well. All this is possible for us in recovery, whether we are new to it or have been in recovery for years.

Some may believe that only those with special abilities can experience vitality, but don’t believe it. You don’t have to be a genius or have boundless reserves of creativity to live in vitality. All you really need is the desire to want to enjoy life, to live in peace and serenity and to experience love and joy.

Take each day as it comes. Instead of looking upon what others have and being envious, be grateful for what we have – including our wealth of experiences to-date. We are each a product of those experiences. Who we are today is the result of the actions we took and are taking today. We are constantly evolving, learning and growing, fashioning our lives into what we want them to be.

Look at recovery this way. We have maybe three choices, if we strip everything down to the bare essentials. We can choose to live in fear and dread each day, feeling that what we do makes no difference, and that we cannot change our fates. We can choose to just barely get by each day, only doing what we absolutely have to, just to maintain our sobriety. Forget reaching for goals. We just exist. Or, we can make it our choice to live vibrantly, full of joy, actively working our recovery goals, loving life in the present, at peace with ourselves and our commitment to sobriety.

Which seems like the more appropriate choice? Only we can make the choice, of course, but a focus on vitality certainly sounds more appealing, doesn’t it?

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