There is a lot more to gratitude than it being something that you should practice simply because it’s a good thing. While in recovery, practicing gratitude in your everyday life helps drive the behavior that is essential to your new life. When you are grateful for what you have, you can find peace of mind and contention with your life.
Having gratitude in recovery takes practice. It’s not something that you can wake up one day and decide to start doing. People who are millionaires aren’t necessarily happier with lives because they can buy anything they want. The feeling of being grateful is a mental attitude that you must develop.
Why Gratitude is Important
According to Robert Emmons, a leading expert on gratitude, there are two aspects of gratitude. “It’s an affirmation of goodness” and “we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves”. You can be grateful for things that are going to happen or have already occurred.
The mindset of those who have struggled with alcohol and other addictions tends to be a “Me against the world” thinking. It’s a defense mechanism that justifies the addiction behavior. Replacing self-oriented thinking inspires a positive perspective and will foster happier thoughts and actions.
There have been a number of studies indicating that showing gratitude can make you happier. Some of the reported effects of being a grateful person include:
- Having more optimism
- Being able to handle challenges better
- An increase in energy
- A feeling of being in more control of their life
- Thinking with more clarity
- Minimizing their stress level
- Longer life
Negative thoughts lead to a feeling of hopelessness, particularly about improving the current situation. You could develop a “stinking thinking” mindset which creates an expectation bias which in turn influences your behavior negatively and could lead to relapse. Shifting your mindset to be grateful will help you see the good in situations.
How to Start Changing Your Mindset to Gratitude
Changing to a gratitude mindset is a process. You need time to heal those wounds that were inflicted in your past and gain back trust in yourself and others. To start doing this, you must make an effort to remove those negative perspectives of yourself and focus on the positives. Three ways that you can do this are:
- Take moments to appreciate the little things. When you’re walking into a place, has a stranger ever held the door open for you? Have you ever taken the time to think about how that simple act made you feel and tell them “thank you”? Have you ever thought about how your “thank you” made that person feel? Acknowledge small acts; go to a park, surrounded by the wonders of nature, remember how a joke made you laugh out loud. These are daily blessings in our lives; give them a deeper meaning.
- Feel grateful for being sober. The likelihood that you will stay sober is higher when you’re grateful that you are. It will serve as motivation to continue attending meetings and other activities to meet your recovery goals.
- Extend a helping hand. When you help others, it’s hard to not feel gratitude. Start with some simple acts when you are new to recovery. Start by putting away chairs after a meeting; eventually, extend yourself to helping someone else in recovery. There are also many opportunities throughout the community to explore.
Practicing Gratitude Day-to-Day
Gratitude is something you have to practice on a daily basis. Here are some ways that you can nurture your gratitude in your life:
- Keep a daily journal that you can record things you are grateful for
- Create a gratitude list every morning
- Start a regular routine of meditation or prayer
- Make it a goal to practice gratitude every day
- Think about a life lesson that you recently learned
- Focus on the good things
- Practice being kind to everyone
- Think about all the things in your life that you have
Positive Thought Reinforcement
Cultivating a positive mindset and being grateful for all the things that you have will lead to perceiving a healthier outlook in life. It shows you can accomplish anything that you give the effort. Your problems might be difficult, but you can face and win against them because you have the tools that you need.
Get Started on the Path to Recovery
If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol addiction and are ready to take the next steps to recovery, we are here for you. Contact us online today to get started on a path to a healthier life.