Use gratitude to stay focused during and beyond addiction recovery

An important part of overcoming addiction is improving your lifestyle for the better. For some, this takes the shape of focusing on health and wellness and for others, it involves more meditation, greater spirituality and a deeper connection with others. Gratitude can also be an important part of a focused recovery effort because it provides a deeper appreciation for the positive parts of your life. 

Correlate gratitude and compassion 

Many addiction recovery programs, including the services provided by Footprints of Serenity in Beverly Hills, offer a compassionate treatment environment. By focusing on care and companionship through all aspects of the recovery process, your journey to sobriety will be less harsh and uncertain. Learning to express gratitude can help you better accept the loving assistance of others and lean on the help provided to you when the path gets rocky. 

Develop a grateful attitude and outlook

For many battling addiction, the world does not seem like a happy place. Negative emotions, including feelings of despair as you attempt to sober up, can overwhelm your life. During recovery, starting a daily or regular practice of gratitude helps you gradually change your mindset. By acknowledging what you have, how you feel and how others have helped you, you start to reprogram how you feel about life. When you realize what you have — even when it’s primarily intangibles like health, a clear mind or a committed family — it is so much easier to be happy. As your outlook improves, you may find it easier to stay sober. 

Explore gratitude and recovery 

Expressing gratitude for the addiction recovery process itself also reinforces your acceptance of sobriety and its value in your life. By regularly acknowledging how your life has improved, you commit to continuing on the journey. This can take place as part of a solo journaling habit, daily affirmations or in the presence of others at recovery meetings and counseling sessions. Focus on thanking those who have helped you along the way and less on the negative aspects of your life, such as friends or family who are unsupportive. By doing so, you lessen the power of the negative acts by inflating the positive.

Embrace simple efforts 

Grateful feelings do not always have to apply to sobriety or other weighty topics. You can be appreciative for so many different things — large and small. You can reflect on these privately and also say “thank you” more daily. When a barista nails your coffee order, that is a win. If a person holds the elevator door for you, you can tell them thank you and pay it forward to make yourself feel even better. Try to make it a regular habit to make the day of one person brighter and enjoy the positive feelings it brings. Over time, the short burst of joy will become a regular feeling as considering the feelings of others becomes second nature.

Experience little treasures

As you start to see the world through new, sober eyes, you may start to notice little things more as your senses return to “normal.” Embrace those new sensations and remember how it feels to be totally in touch with the world. Gratitude can include loving the sounds of leaves crunching under your feet on your morning walk with your dog or appreciating the clarity of downtown lights without a buzz. 

Learn how to face struggles

A practice of gratitude isn’t 100% easy. You must also be able to face struggles with an open mind and a strategic plan instead of crumbling under their weight. See new challenges, such as a difficult conversation with a family member or friend, as an opportunity to improve your life instead of a weight making you feel oppressed. 

Establish a gratitude ritual

Giving thanks daily should become a part of your life. In the beginning, it will likely be more purposeful. Daily journaling of a few things you are grateful for helps you acknowledge the good and hard parts of life. It can help you sort through difficult emotions as you search for the bright spots in a day that felt dark and gloomy overall. 

As time goes by, helping others and acknowledging positive acts is likely to become second nature, and you may find daily journaling feels less necessary. This is perfectly fine. However, you should always be ready to pick up the writing or typing habit again if you start to feel less hope.

For the more spiritually inclined, daily meditation and prayer can serve the same purpose as a gratitude journal. If you prefer action more than reflection, flip the script and express your gratitude out loud. Speak words of thanks to others more frequently and with more meaning and start a dialogue on gratitude with your friends and family.