The Role of Gratitude in Recovery
August 22, 2019
Gratitude is something everyone feels and shows to one another throughout their lives. It can come in the form of saying “thank you” to someone holding open a door, appreciating someone’s help in overcoming a difficult task, or just being grateful for one’s surroundings.
These levels of gratitude allow us as human beings to not only express graciousness to others and ourselves, but to also remain humble, open-hearted, and willing to accept what the future holds. When we practice it in our lives, gratitude can improve our overall well-being in countless ways.
While it may seem to be one of many qualities that we try to implement into our lives, gratitude is much more than that. Research has shown that those who practice gratitude tend to be more optimistic and live longer. They also:
- Have more energy
- Have less stress
- Manage challenges easier
- Have clearer thinking
- Maintain control within their lives
Gratitude has benefits for everyone. People of all ages, races, orientations, and religions have an opportunity to practice gratitude in their lives and feel better because of it.
Whole groups of people, like those in recovery from substance use disorders, lean on gratitude more than others, since doing so can help prevent relapse and continue to live healthy lives.
Unfortunately, gratitude that is truly meaningful and life-changing isn’t found overnight. It requires practice and the implementation of thoughts, behaviors, and actions to benefit.
Developing Gratitude in Recovery
For many people in recovery, gratitude is a concept that is not easy to grasp. Sure, recovering addicts and alcoholics might feel gratitude for having survived their addictions, but the true comprehension of gratitude takes time to develop.
If you are in recovery, chances are you have heard a lot of discussion about gratitude, and have even seen others exemplify what it is to be grateful. Some of the practices that can help develop gratitude while in recovery include:
- Write out what you are grateful for each morning before you begin your day
- Use a journal to keep record of what is occurring in your life, as doing so can allow you to regularly reflect on your life in ways that promote gratitude
- Show gratitude to others by expressing appreciation and sharing why you are grateful for them
- Talk to others about what gratitude means to them and ask what they do to show gratitude
- Practice an activity such as yoga or meditation where you are encouraged to focus on gratitude and utilize it throughout the duration of the activity
Many people in recovery are currently working on establishing a sense and appreciation of gratitude. Reach out to them while in treatment or at a 12-Step meeting by striking up a conversation about this specific quality.
As with much else in recovery, the act of sharing your thoughts and listening to the thoughts of others provides an opportunity for emotional, mental, and social growth.
Keeping It Simple
Recovery asks a lot of people, requiring a lot of work. This is because, in order to maintain recovery, extra effort is needed to help sustain one’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
Those in recovery often keep gratitude journals, talk with others about gratitude, and engage in activities to promote gratitude. Those in recovery also do little things throughout the day that require less effort but still make a meaningful impact, such as:
- Express one’s emotions
- Reflect on one’s journey thus far
- Appreciate one’s successes
- Call on a higher power
- Show gratitude and prepare to receive it gratefully
How Gratitude Can Prevent Relapse
When struggling with active addiction, individuals can quickly lose sight of who they are and what impact they want to make in life. This is normal, though it is also difficult to regain that vision once it’s lost.
In recovery, individuals can utilize gratitude to help them shed negative thought patterns and behaviors, as well as mature and grow into the person they want to be.
Gratitude has proven time and again to encourage positivity in one’s life. One of the greatest aspects about gratitude is that it helps individuals avoid relapse, which aids in their long-term recovery success.
For those in recovery, gratitude promotes:
- More independence
- Less worry and concern about the opinions of others
- Reasonable thinking
- Appreciation for what they have rather than what they do not have
- A positive attitude that can change the outlook of one’s life
The quality of gratitude possesses the power to completely alter one’s life in positive ways. When developed and applied, those who incorporate gratitude into their lives have the potential to achieve continued success in their recovery.
Get Help at JourneyPure in Ft. Walton
At JourneyPure, we know the toll that addiction can take on your life and we know how important recovery can be to your healing. By reaching out to us, we can help you get moving in your recovery and show you how to apply things like gratitude to your life. Make the decision today to stop using and regain control of your life once and for all.
Michelle Rosenker is a content writer for JourneyPure where she gets to exercise her journalistic skills by working with different addiction treatment centers nationwide. She has 10 years of experience in the field of addiction treatment and mental health and has written content for some of the country’s most prominent treatment centers and behavioral hospitals. Through her writing, Michelle is proud to continually raise awareness about the disease of addiction and share hope for the future. She lives next to the ocean in Massachusetts with her husband, two young children, and faithful dog.