When you are asked what you what you’re grateful for, what is your first answer? For many people in recovery, gratitude doesn’t come naturally. You may realize you’re thankful for being sober, but your current challenges make it difficult to feel grateful. Gratitude, however, is an integral part of recovery. When a person begins to feel thankful for the things that are going well in life, it’s easier to focus on the positive.
Why Be Grateful?
Many people in recovery say you’ll be able to help yourself more if you maintain an “attitude of gratitude.” You may hear this phrase at meetings or in treatment. Changing your attitude toward life isn’t easy. When a person is in active addiction, they typically don’t have a lot of gratitude. What is there to be grateful for when you’re stuck in negative patterns, losing your self-esteem, and losing people or things that you used to love because your addiction is in charge?
When you get clean and sober, your addiction isn’t in charge anymore. Pretty much any day clean is better than a day stuck in a spiral of hopelessness, selfishness, and danger. But you may not feel that way.
Life doesn’t get better overnight just because you’ve stopped using substances. Your brain and body take a while to heal. Your relationships will take work to rebuild. You may have more emotions than you felt when you were using drugs and alcohol. Feeling guilt, powerlessness, and regret can often overtake you when you first get sober.
Feeling grateful, however, can help you with healing. Sure, some things aren’t perfect in life, but with gratitude, you’re able to list things that are going well in life and feel more peace about the negative.
Becoming More Grateful
Gratitude isn’t just a state of mind; it can also be an action. Acting grateful by counting the positives in your day can help you have the right attitude.
Here three things that will help you have an attitude of gratitude:
• Keep a gratitude list every day. Find at least five things you’re grateful for, whether it’s your sponsor or a batch of juicy oranges you found at the store. The small things count as much as the big stuff. If you’re having trouble, think about people who were kind to you today or the fact that you have things other people don’t – such as enough food to eat, a place to sleep, and some sobriety under your belt.
• Give back! One of the most significant tenets of 12-step recovery is paying it forward – volunteer for a position at a meeting or to go to a food pantry and sign up for a shift or two. Either of these things will give you perspective and help you realize just how good you have it.
• Write a list of things you can do well, and you like to do. Not everyone feels that they have a talent or skill, but there are hidden layers of people just like there are layers of onions. If you have trouble with this, ask somebody from treatment or your sponsor to help you with it. You may be good with animals, have artistic talent, or merely be a good listener. Use these talents to help build your gratitude list.
Gratitude doesn’t always come quickly, but it can be highly rewarding to live with an attitude of gratitude. When you do things because you’re grateful, you’ll find they are more satisfying and help you find more self-esteem and peace with your past.
As you work the 12 steps will learn more about yourself and continue to learn how to be grateful. Until this time, try to use the above suggestions to become more thankful on your own.
Are you or somebody you love struggling with substance use? You’re not alone. We’ve helped many of our clients learn to live a life without the use of drugs. Take the first step towards recovery by admitting you have a problem and need help. All calls are 100% confidential. Dial 1-619-363-4767 to learn more about our programs.