by Daniel Whittler
We have begun a new decade, a true landmark in life when you think about it. Usually when the new year comes I reflect on the past year but as we entered 2020 I naturally found myself looking at the past decade. For me, ten years ago I was in active addiction but nowhere near rock bottom yet; it would take another 5 years for that to happen.
I have come a very long way from that and will always be grateful. However, though I’ve come a long way, when I was reflecting on the last decade I still found myself thinking negatively. Even though I went from a homeless drug addict to a productive member of society with a great life, I still was focusing on everything I haven’t done yet. Why is that?
Flipping the Mindset
I can only speak for myself, but my mind is mostly a negative space. I spend so much time worrying about the future and criticizing myself, and the worst part is it happens automatically. Take a moment to reflect back at the last hour of your thinking. Isn’t it amazing how much goes on in our head without us even noticing? Usually we have to really pause and reflect on it in order to even see what we’re thinking.
For the past couple of weeks, I have made it my top priority to stay aware of what my thinking is doing and do my best to counteract it. Once you actively focus on what your thinking is doing, you can begin to change all the nonsense it spews.
The morning is a vital time to set up your day. Having a practice and ritual for the morning to get on positive ground has been an incredible experience for me. I’d like to stress that I am only sharing my experience and not saying you should do exactly as I do. Through trial and error, find what works best for you and grow from that!
I’ve heard of positive affirmations for a long, long time. To be honest, I would scoff when someone would mention it to me and tell me to give it a try. I had always felt that it was a corny thing to do and could never envision myself doing it. As with most things in my life, once the pain became great enough I was willing to give it a try.
I begin my mornings now by simply telling myself phrases that are inherently positive. Phrases such as:
“You are doing a good job with everything.”
“I’m going to make today great.”
“I love who I’ve become.”
“I am grateful for my family’s love.”
Simple, concise things like that can have a powerful effect. For me, the affirmations feel completely against the grain of my normally pessimistic mind, and I can tangibly feel the negativity being released while I say these encouraging phrases to myself. I bet a few of you who just read those right now felt some of the juice that affirmations can offer.
Creating A Ritual
Consistency is the key to building your new positive environment. I’ve done some consistent practices in my time in recovery from drugs and alcohol. A big part of getting sober is embracing spirituality, in order to really excel spiritually you need to do certain things every day.  I knew that if I wanted to really make a change this new year, I was going to be all-in on whatever it is I found out that works.
I found a few activities that work tremendously for me, such as:
- Meditation: Every morning, only for a few minutes, I will sit down and do my best to get my mind quiet and still. I say do my best because it is a fascinatingly difficult task to completely quiet your mind, which says a lot about the power of the mind. There are many tips to meditation but my best one to give is to count and focus on your breath. Breathing in count to ‘1’, breathing out count to ‘2’. Take big deep breaths and you will find it easier to keep your mind quiet. Just a few minutes of this mysteriously energizes me throughout the day and puts me in a much better mindset than I usually find myself. 
- Writing: There is incredible power when it comes to pen and paper. Writing things down offers benefits that don’t happen if you just think about what you want to write. Each morning after meditation I will sit for a few minutes and write whatever I am inspired to write. It is always something different and I will leave it to you to get inspired. Sometimes I will write a gratitude list, other times some affirmations I want to reinforce to myself. I’ll even just write out my plans for the day and for whatever reason writing them down and looking at the plans make them seem more achievable.
- Visualization: There has been studies done on visualization that prove it has a mysterious power to it.  What is visualization? It’s simple. Where do you want to be in 5 years? When I ask the question and you reflect on it a little bit, there is an image of you somewhere doing what you’ve always wanted to do. Take that picture and visualize yourself being there everyday. There is something profound that happens when we just visualize ourselves already being somewhere we want to be. Do it everyday.
These practices all have something in common, they do not take up a lot of time, that is the brilliance behind this. For everything I am suggesting you can simply make 10-15 minutes of your morning to perform them. As I said, I have been doing this only the past couple of weeks and the results have been undeniable. I walk throughout the day with a feeling of purpose and good intention, I feel more in tune with my thinking.
There are times where I catch my thinking getting the best of me during the day and I simply stop what I’m doing, take a deep breath, and counteract that thinking with positive thoughts. It is really that simple, our minds are so automatic to go to a bad place that with a little awareness we can channel it into something that can change our lives.
In the new year, before you start working on your big goals for the year, work on improving your interior landscape first.
Daniel Wittler is a writer in recovery from New Jersey who writes for sites like Stodzy Internet Marketing along with many other sites. Daniel believes absolutely anyone can get sober provided they are ready to take action.