As a recovering addict, developing a sense of gratitude about the things you appreciate may help you break free from the darkness of addiction. And just as with any other habit, with regular practice, grateful thoughts can become your everyday way of thinking. When we begin thinking negative thoughts or finding something wrong with a person or situation, these thoughts grow. Have you ever become annoyed or frustrated by a person or something they’ve done?
Being grateful allows an outlook that changes difficulty into opportunity and problems into challenges. Gratitude brings about a healthy outlook than anything can be accomplished and problems and difficulties in life can be faced with grace and dignity and faith. Gratitude allows for humility and truth and hope, key essentials for anyone looking to recover from drug or alcohol addiction. The power of gratitude in addiction recovery lies in its ability to shift the focus of the mind away from negative thoughts and emotions and towards positive ones.
Gratitude Keeps Resentment in Check and Measures Our Spiritual Welfare
It may be there under different names — for example, AA daily reflections. Recovery is a lifelong journey and can come with many challenges. Finding things to be grateful for in recovery helps an individual keep their mind in a positive place. Rather than focusing on mistakes from the past or future challenges, it lets a person acknowledge the good they’ve accomplished so far. In addition to these benefits, gratitude also improves physical health by reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, and improving sleep quality. These outcomes positively reinforce one’s behavior towards practicing gratitude as a habit.
The good news is that gratitude is a mental outlook that can be developed and strengthened over time. The great news is that the benefits occur almost immediately with significant impact on your recovery success and overall well-being. Whatever method you choose, try to set yourself up for success by being realistic. If you’re not a morning person, writing in a gratitude journal first thing is unlikely.
How to Practice Gratitude in Recovery
Another way to look at gratitude in recovery is from an opposite perspective, that people are unhappy because they want the things they do not have while failing to recognize all that they do have. This type of perspective will cultivate unhealthy attitudes towards life, towards relationships, towards jobs, towards everything. It leads to comparing our life to someone else’s that we perceive to have “better” or “more” of what we do not have, and that in turn leads to frustration and anger and resentment. Twelve Step fellowships caution to always be aware of resentments for they are the root causes of most relapses back into active addiction.
It has been proven to be beneficial in addiction recovery, but it can benefit anyone seeking a more fulfilled life. Interestingly, expressing gratitude may also have benefits for those on the receiving end. A study published in Emotion found that people who received letters of gratitude reported feeling happier and more satisfied with their lives than those who didn’t receive any such letter. When addiction rules most aspects of life, it can be difficult to recognize and take advantage of new opportunities to learn, grow, and change.
Addiction Treatment Programs
You may also want to create a dedicated gratitude journal to keep you focused. Journaling has a long-established history as a tool for self-discovery and healing. Journal importance of gratitude in recovery therapy is a part of many kinds of counseling and group work, but anyone can use a journal to explore feelings, process events, and create conditions for change.
Doing so might help you respond to experiences differently and help you take charge of your life. For instance, let’s say you notice how poorly a 12-step meeting was run and organized. Instead of focusing on the negative, try focusing on the positive side of things – the way the meetings have helped you stay sober. It’s important to point out that some hardship is a natural part of life. Without challenge and obstacles, we will never learn to stretch ourselves and grow.