Practicing Gratitude in Recovery
As the season of Thanksgiving is upon us, we’re thinking about all the things we have to be grateful for. Counting our blessings and feeling a sense of gratitude can go a long way in lifting our spirits, and can be especially helpful for people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Gratitude helps us to shift our thinking to what we have instead of what we lack. It helps us to remember how far we’ve come and to acknowledge the many supports and resources we have both within us and around us. Gratitude also helps us to recognize the lessons learned from challenges we inevitably face from time to time.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab today at 877.969.1993 to learn how we can help.
No matter what’s going on in our lives, we always have something to be grateful for. Whether it’s something as simple as the sun on our face or the air we breathe or a big milestone like a new job or another year clean and sober, remembering what we have to be grateful for helps us to keep a positive mindset on a daily basis.
What is Gratitude?
The official definition of gratitude is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”. By its very definition, gratitude is much more than just saying thank you or listing what’s going well in your life. Living with gratitude can be a practice that helps you shift your thinking as well as your behavior. Focusing on what we have to be grateful for and looking at life from this positive perspective helps us to live with a readiness to show our appreciation to others and to return kindness for their actions.
How Gratitude Benefits Those in Recovery
Gratitude helps us to remember that even when life gets challenging we still have plenty of things to be thankful for. Living with gratitude helps us to cope with setbacks and stresses by allowing us to see the lessons that they provide. Gratitude helps us to continue our journey of personal growth in recovery.
Living with gratitude is a skill that will get stronger as you practice it. At first, it can be hard to shift into seeing the world in a more optimistic light. Fortunately, there are lots of ways people in recovery can begin to cultivate a more grateful outlook on life.
- Take time to think about the things you’re grateful for. When you notice your mood sinking into a negative place, make a point to think about some of the things you’re grateful for. If you have a hard time getting started, consider something or someone you have in your life now that you didn’t have during active addiction. Even if you don’t feel like doing it at first, it’s amazing how quickly thinking about things you’re grateful for can lift your mood.
- See challenges as opportunities. The next time you find yourself facing a challenge, take a moment to think about what good might come from it. If you succeed in meeting the challenge, you’ll have that accomplishment to be grateful for. If you don’t succeed this time, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from it and do things differently next time.
- Focus on what you have, not on what you don’t have. Feeling down about all the things you don’t have in life can easily spiral into feelings of jealousy and anger. These kinds of negative emotions can make life feel empty and lonely and be very detrimental to your recovery. Try to start noticing early on when you’re focused on what you lack and shift your thinking to what you do have. Your mindset will quickly turn around.
- Write someone a thank you note. When the opportunity arises to thank someone for some kindness they’ve shown you, make the most of it. Writing a thank you letter helps you clearly articulate your gratitude and feel it more fully. Sharing your gratitude with the other person will only help the feeling grow and inspire it in others as well.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Keeping a gratitude journal is one of the best ways to take time to think about things you’re grateful for. A gratitude journal can help to formalize the practice of gratitude. Keep your journal in an easily accessible place, like on your bedside table, so that you can make writing in it part of your daily routine.
- Make a list of life lessons you’ve learned. Taking time to reflect on life lessons can help you to see the learning opportunities that challenges present. Often it’s easier to see these things in hindsight, and when we do, it helps us to remember to think more positively as we face new challenges and learn new lessons going forward.
- Focus on the best in others, not the worst. When we focus on people’s negative qualities it’s easy to become irritable, angry, and resentful. But everyone has good qualities too. Seeing the good in others and choosing to focus on it helps us to maintain a positive outlook to treat others with respect. Focusing on the best in people can also help others feel inspired to be better.
- Be generous. It’s funny how giving has a way of making you feel full. Being generous with things like your time, your energy and your ability to listen to others helps us to remember that we actually have a lot to give.
Gratitude is a wonderful way to appreciate what you have instead of always reaching for something new to try to make you feel better. Practicing gratitude can make us genuinely more happy as we shift our thinking towards all we have to be thankful for instead of what we lack. In recovery, we are always working on ourselves and our ability to grow and learn. Cultivating gratitude is a powerful way to move forward in your own personal recovery journey.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.