November is a time many people set aside to express gratitude for all the things for which they are grateful. Gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation and return kindness.” People in recovery go through a journey of a spiritual awakening and through this, they are better able to recognize the gift that life is. They realize life is not just about the stuff, it is about the relationships with the people they love and with the relationship they have with themselves. It is about the simple things like food, shelter, clothes to wear, and the ability to give back to others.
People in recovery sometimes refer to themselves as grateful alcoholics or addicts. This may seem strange to those who have not been on the journey of recovery, but after all they have been through, they have come to realize just how grateful they should be for each day they are given. They move away from self-centered thinking in addiction and on to more other-centered thinking in recovery. They have found an essential part of their recovery is gratitude — perhaps one of the best relapse prevention tools there is.
Some of the benefits of practicing gratitude on a regular basis include:
· More relationships and those relationships are healthier
· Improved physical health
· Improved mental health
· Better sleep
· More self-confidence
Sounds great, right? What are some ways you can make gratitude a part of your daily routine?
· Focus more on the things you have, not the things you don’t have.
· Reflect on your current situation, even if it’s difficult, and try to see how you can grow as a person from this experience. Begin to recognize every challenge you experience as a chance for growth
· Always look for good in others. (Be sure to tell them sometimes too!)
· Practice random acts of kindness.
· Start every day by writing down one to three things for which you can be grateful. You can use this list to look back at on the difficult days.
· Practice prayer and meditation.
Start practicing gratitude today. Whether you feel you have just a few or an abundance of things to be grateful for, remember there is always something to add to your list. Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as saying, “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
As a substance use counselor, I ask patients to focus a lot on gratitude. I feel gratitude helps hope grow. Do not make November the only time you practice gratitude, but do use it as a time to begin practicing this daily discipline.
Ready to start your journey in becoming a person grateful for their recovery? Call us at (877) HOPE123.
Mandy Hazel has been a counselor and case manager at Centerstone’s Fellowship House campus since July 2014. Mandy works with patients in the outpatient, detox, residential and family programs and has also served as a preventionist.