Is the glass half empty or half full? How we answer this question might actually have a significant impact on how long we live, according to new research. The scientific results aren’t entirely surprising. Optimism and hope are precious commodities. Better than pessimism and despair, optimism and hope create meaning for life rather than meaninglessness. Meaning, as famous psychologists like Viktor Frankl, and numerous scientists have found, is essential for life. Finding and connecting to a meaning in life inspires one to keep on living. There is a certain hope in optimism. Hoping for the best is an optimistic outlook.
By definition, hope means “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen”. Hope in action is a bit different from hope in definition. Hope is often used as an anagram, standing for “Hold On Pain Ends”. Addiction and alcoholism cause deep pain- physical pain, psychological pain, familial and relational pain, as well as spiritual pain. Hope is the expectation or desire for things to change. It is the desire for something different to really be possible. We expect that there is another way to live life, free of drugs and alcohol. Whatever that way of life is, we desire it deeply. Hope in addiction and recovery is the rope we hang onto when there is nothing left.
According to new research out of Harvard, optimism is not shortsighted. In a study that reviewed 70,0000 women and the data associated with them, researchers pitted diseases against rates of optimism. Conclusively, women who were in the top 25% for optimism had a 30% less chance of dying from a disease. Optimism has been found to reduce the symptoms of disease or even lower the risk of their occurrence. This recent study found that optimistic outlook can affect a whole range of illnesses.
Developing a sense of hope or optimism in recovery can be difficult. Drugs and alcohol rewire the brain to only find pleasure in some kind of intoxication. During substance abuse, the brain actually finds itself to be hopeless- the only optimism it feels is when drugs or alcohol are about to be consumed. Arguably, the optimism of getting high or getting drunk once more is what drives the addict or alcoholic and keeps them alive. The compulsive and obsessive craving to use is a powerful force which keeps many alive despite their problems. Recovery, then, is an opportunity to put this natural state to better use.
Refuge Recovery offers a spectrum of care to men and women seeking total transformation and healing from addiction and/or alcoholism. Buddhist-based and spiritually focused, our body serves to treat mind, body, and spirit. For more information, call or text 323-207-0276.