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How to Practice Gratitude in Recovery and why it matters

At its core, gratitude is about developing a state of openness and vulnerability. It allows you to appreciate what you have instead of dwelling on your difficulties. According to studies, gratitude and happiness are always strongly correlated. In one study, researchers asked one group to note the things they were grateful for. They then asked another group to write about the daily irritations or things that had displeased them. The third group was asked to write about the negative and positive events that affected them.

This is where showing appreciation for even small gestures of kindness or relatively minuscule positive occurrences comes into play. Practicing gratitude by thanking someone who lets you cut in line in the supermarket because you only have one item is an appropriate way of showing gratitude and ingraining it into your own practices. If Intermittent explosive disorder Symptoms and causes you started to expect such a favor all the time, however, your entitlement could lead to refusal and then hostile thinking. Gratitude for even the smallest courtesies can promote a consistent sense of thankfulness. If someone holds the door for you or lets you merge into traffic on a busy road, make a conscious effort to be grateful.

Gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions

It can provide people with energy, confidence, and the mindset to achieve things to make their lives better. Even if you’re struggling through an exceptionally difficult life circumstance, there is always something to be thankful for. These results are encouraging because many other studies suggest that the mental health benefits of positive activities often decrease rather than increase over time afterward. We don’t really know why this positive snowball effect occurred in our study.

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Gratitude can show others that you do not take your second chance at life for granted. By expressing thankfulness for everything you have in your life, you can shift your mindset from focusing on what you lack to appreciating all the wonderful things you have going for you. There are plenty of ways to be generous each and every day, but recognizing the opportunities that come your way takes effort and attention. For example, if someone from your AA group needs a place to stay for a week, opening up your home is a great way to be generous. Or if you see someone struggling to carry groceries to their car, the simple act of offering a helping hand can go a long way.

Make a Gratitude List

Gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation – paying attention to the positive things in your life is an important part of a healthy outlook on living. For those who are recovering from substance abuse, gratitude for the things that addiction recovery brings can make it easier to stay focused on building a new life free of addictions. Developing an attitude of gratitude comes easily for some and for others takes some practice and habit-building. 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.

  • But what happens for most is when we start to think those judgemental and negative thoughts we think of more things about the person or situation we don’t like.
  • Those with addiction issues, sometimes have maladjusted ways of thinking which become habits.
  • In the eastern philosophy gratitude is known as the key to happiness.
  • Once you have embraced this attitude in your mind and heart, you will find it easier to remain on the path to success.
  • Some studies have shown that when gratitude is expressed in romantic relationships feelings of happiness lasted through the following day.

Gratitude is the key to finding the silver lining in a negative situation, and the thoughtful optimism and clarity that gratitude brings help keep the situation in perspective. Appreciating simple things that are going well or being thankful for small acts of kindness by others can lift your spirits while the negative situation is resolved. So, commit yourself to practice gratitude daily; soon, it will become a natural part of your recovery journey.

How to Practice Gratitude in Recovery (and why it matters)

Addiction can harm the body and mind in many ways, sometimes permanently. If you’ve come out of addiction without major health problems, or if recovery allows you to work on health problems, that might be cause for gratitude. Removing a dangerous substance from your everyday life is a huge step towards healthy living. Taking time to focus on gratitude, especially during the holidays, allows us to be present, content, and feel more positive emotion.

When you’re struggling, you can reach for your gratitude journal or reminders to rebalance yourself. It can remind you of how far you’ve come and all you’ve done to get to this stage of recovery. 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. Set up your routine to fit comfortably in your life so you can keep up this new habit long-term. We set out to address these questions in a recent research study involving nearly 300 adults, mostly college students who were seeking mental health counseling at a university.

Gratitude Works for Everyone—Not Just Sober Folks

It is easy to feel overwhelmed and pessimistic when living through the challenges of addiction recovery. You may feel like you don’t have the strength or willpower to overcome your obstacles, and you might start to get caught up in negative thoughts and emotions like anger, self-doubt, or hopelessness. However, maintaining a sense of gratitude can help you stay focused on what is important and find strength in difficult times. At a time when many mental health professionals are feeling crunched, we hope that this research can point them—and their clients—toward an effective and beneficial tool. First, by analyzing the words used by participants in each of the two writing groups, we were able to understand the mechanisms behind the mental health benefits of gratitude letter writing. We compared the percentage of positive emotion words, negative emotion words, and “we” words (first-person plural words) that participants used in their writing.

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