Importance of Gratitude in Recovery

Unfortunately, life will always have its ups and downs, you will always have your ups and downs, and you will always have things that don’t go as planned. Whether those things are slip ups and relapses, problems at work or in your personal life, or even small things like traffic lights, you need to learn to accept them and be grateful for life anyway. Nothing will ever be “perfect”, and challenges can be used to grow, learn, and even to give you a better perspective on good things in your life. While there are many things that you can be grateful for, many people spend a considerable amount of time looking for big or important things that have meaning. It’s important to keep in mind that things don’t have to have any significance for you to be grateful for them. The sun could be shining, someone could have wished you a good day, you could have a good book, have woken up happy, or any number of other seemingly insignificant things.

What are the best attitude of gratitude?

An attitude of gratitude means making the conscious habit of expressing appreciation on a regular basis for big and small things alike. We may be grateful for our relationships, health, business, material items, food in our cupboards, running water in our homes, and our overall sense of well-being.

Gratitude lists are a helpful tool for people battling addiction, depression, and other afflictions that impact the inclination and willingness to experience gratitude. Many studies support the use of gratitude to improve outcomes for people in recovery from drug or alcohol use disorder. In one study, the researcher evaluated a group of treatment participants and some staff members for psychological traits, coping skills, gratitude, and other factors. Instead of focusing on material possessions this holiday season, these nine tips can help you practice gratitude in recovery and learn how to be thankful and content with what you already have. Addiction strips away all the good things in life; health, happiness, contentment … you name it. Taking a moment to think about something good you have now can serve as a reminder of how far you’ve come since your addiction.

An Effort to Be Thankful

Practicing gratitude in recovery helps people to become more optimistic, have more in control of their lives, and be less stressed. Gratitude is like a run-away train that starts with a single emotion, simply being grateful. When your focus is on being grateful, it eliminates negative thoughts or, at the very least, reduces them and shifts your thinking from toxic or harmful feelings to positive feelings that improve mental health.

  • The thoughts can snowball until we’ve worked ourselves into a state of restlessness and discontent.
  • It’s common for those who struggle with addiction to get stuck within the mindset of “me against the world”.
  • They saw that those who reported paying it forward out of gratitude had different brain activity than those who did it out of guilt or obligation.

Your positive attitude ends up helping others who are just starting their recovery journey, and in turn becomes a gift to many. If there’s someone in your life who has been instrumental in your recovery, connect with them and let them know just how much they’ve helped you through difficult times. Ask them about their life, and make a habit of checking in with them every once in a while.

Addiction and Mental Health Resources

A grateful person knows sobriety is essential to healing the harm caused by addiction to themselves and to others. Gratitude helps promote the focus on channeling inspiration and motivation into sobriety. Negative thinkers are more prone to lose their will and relapse.

  • Most importantly, helping others around you whenever possible is a chance to show your gratitude for their presence in your life.
  • A great way to practice gratitude is by giving back or volunteering within one’s community.
  • Gratitude, then, becomes an incredibly valuable skill to learn and practice, as it can help one recognize the positive things in life.
  • Gratitude becomes like a sweet salve that not only heals but also contributes to your sense of joy for breaking free from substance use.

When properly cultivated, gratitude becomes an action of expressing your love for someone or something. If you’re grateful for your mother, you call her or visit her. If you’re grateful for your recovery, you stay committed and contribute to it. Practicing gratitude helps us connect more deeply with the people and things we love in our lives, while acknowledging how they enable us to live a better life each day as we navigate recovery. If you’re not able to practice gratitude in social settings or in your communication with people, practice gratitude introspectively by journaling or creating a gratitude list.

How to practice gratitude

The benefits are for everyone, but for individuals in recovery it they are especially powerful. Gratitude strengthens sobriety, reduces relapses, and provides generally better outcomes after treatment. In this study increases in trait gratitude pre-post treatment were not observed and in Charzynska’s (2015)’s study, increases were observed among women only. Despite these results, there are theoretical and empirical grounds to suggest that gratitude should increase. Perhaps more time is needed for trait gratitude to shift with addiction recovery. Or, perhaps a measurement instrument that assesses gratitude for recovery would better access the underlying construct of interest.

However, no matter how you come by it, practicing gratitude in your daily life can transform it from one of doom and gloom to one of peace and joy. This is particularly true for people in recovery from alcohol or drugs. Gratitude journals can empower individuals in recovery to set aside intentional time for gratitude. For example, some people choose to write in a gratitude journal daily for five to 10 minutes. Because many people in treatment and recovery are busy with both recovery and general life activities, this short, scheduled time for gratitude can encourage mindfulness and presence.

Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. When AA uses the phrase “An attitude of gratitude” they often mean “practicing gratitude in recovery gratitude”. This means that you should be grateful for everything as part of your life and consistently recognize and be aware of the good things that happen to you, no matter how small.

Though recovery can be difficult, maintaining a sense of gratitude helps mitigate the petty annoyances and negative feelings that too often bog us down – impatience, judgement, resentment, anger, self-pity. Gratitude in recovery helps us connect with others, and build lasting, meaningful, sober relationships with our peers and with the world. Researchers consistently find that a practice of gratitude leads to greater levels of happiness and other positive emotions, improved mental and physical health, and stronger interpersonal relationships.

This applies whether you’re volunteering to help others, doing things that make your friends and family happy, or working in a way that contributes to your community and surroundings. Volunteering actually triggers the reward system in your brain, causing you to feel happier and more satisfied. This happens because most humans are ‘wired’ to benefit from social good, including helping others.

gratitude in recovery

Get in touch with your creative side, especially if you haven’t before. It’s a great way to process tough emotions and trauma, and it’s a whole new language to view and express yourself. With gratitude, you can sense how far you’ve come and where you might go next.

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