Five Ways I Fill Up on Joy

"To Thine Own Self Be True"

One of my favorite recovery inspirations or quotes is, "To Thine Own Self Be True." It's no wonder this phrase is featured on AA anniversary medallions. "To Thine Own Self Be True" reminds me that it's okay to put energy towards the things I love to do—the things that fill me up and energize me. Like running.

I recently started running with a group of people from my Sunday morning recovery meeting. We wear our running clothes to the meeting and, right afterwards, head outside together to do an easy 3-5 mile run. It's great fellowship and makes me feel so good to take time for myself, doing something I love.

Even after many years in recovery, I need to stay mindful of the simple things that work for me. It's easy to get caught up in the business of life and forget to take time for myself. But doing things that bring me joy, like running, is important for my recovery. When I take time for myself—when I'm "true to myself" in this way—not only do I benefit, but those around me do as well.

I try to do at least one thing every day that brings me joy; something that is truly for me. And something I want to do rather than must do, like:

  • Taking 10 minutes to meditate. I try to carve out a few minutes here and there—when things are especially hectic—to quiet my mind, reframe my outlook, and refocus my energy. Just because I can't get away for a week-long silent retreat doesn't mean I can't benefit from meditation. This is not an all-or-nothing situation, right?
  • Cooking a healthy meal for my family. A big recovery discovery for me: I actually enjoy making healthy food as much as I enjoy eating healthy food. Chopping, slicing, measuring, stirring—the exercise of putting together a fresh, wholesome dinner for my family takes me away from the worries of the day and brings me into the moment. It's creative and therapeutic.
  • Reading to my 11-year old at bedtime (when he lets me). Absolute heaven. No further explanation needed.
  • Going for a walk with my husband or snuggling with my dog, Tessa. Being with those I love and being mindful of our smallest, seemingly ordinary but hugely important moments together, is truly transformative. It keeps me grateful and focused on what matters.
  • And, yes, there's the running thing. On Sunday mornings, being true to myself and my recovery means logging a few more miles with my fellow travelers. We're filling up on joy, together. I love it!

Nell HurleyNell Hurley is the executive director of national alumni relations for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.
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