Gratitude is Key in Addiction Recovery
Some people say the A.A. should stand for Attitude Adjustment, and that is exactly what has to happen if a person has any chance at all at staying healthy in recovery or sober for any length of time.
Here are some tips for gratitude in recovery to help you foster an “attitude of gratitude”:
Make a gratitude list
We suggest leaving the keyboard, and writing this out the old-fashioned way with pen and paper. If you are having trouble coming up with things you are grateful for, think about some really big things like breathing, eating, eyesight, friends and so on. Even if you don’t really feel grateful, write them down anyway, and in the process, you may find your attitude adjusting.
Remember, if you are pointing your finger at someone else, you have three fingers pointing back at you. It is difficult to feel grateful if you are a victim. When you are able to own your own part in any life situation, then you have an opportunity to make changes. Accountability and ownership creates gratitude.
Gratitude is an action word
If you are feeling grateful, do something about it. If you are grateful for your sobriety, then go to a meeting and help set up chairs. If you aren’t really feeling grateful, but you do the action anyway, your attitude will likely shift to gratitude.
Shift focus from negative to positive
This is easier said than done if you have a lifetime of seeing only the negative, but it can be done with conscious effort. Here is an example: if the man in front of you buys the last muffin that you wanted at the cafe – shift from disappointment or anger to being grateful that you will not starve to death in Canada, that you are in a warm cafe, that you have money in your pocket for coffee, that there are still oatmeal cookies left. Challenge yourself and your old thinking on the spot – what is good about this?
Give thanks for gratitude in recovery
Whatever you are grateful about, give thanks. Look for reasons to give thanks. Did someone let you in to traffic, hold open a door, make you dinner, not charge you interest or give you a big hug when you needed it? Tell them ‘Thanks’. And throughout the day, recognize where all of the good things in your life are coming from – your higher power. Let Him/Her/It or Them know how you feel. And if you’re not feeling grateful, let your higher power know that you are grateful for the opportunity to know that you don’t feel grateful.
Observe healthy role models
Watch for healthy expressions and attitudes of acceptance and gratitude in recovery. In twelve step meetings, watch for these behaviors and attitudes of people you admire; those that have a way of living life you admire and would like to have what they have. Talk to your sponsor and seek guidance.
Regularly talk about what you are grateful for with these people. Before you know it, you will start experiencing life as the proverbial ‘glass half full’. Every life experience becomes an opportunity to witness gratitude. Gratitude for ‘what is’, as opposed to the old way of only being grateful for ‘what I want / like / approve of’.
At Serenity Vista, one of the best role models of unconditional acceptance and gratitude is Ceiba, our loving chocolate labrador retriever dog. Ceiba is a great role model. If you have a pet dog, or have contact with one, watch closely. Not an ounce of arrogance or resentment. Living in the moment, grateful for whatever life presents. Thanks be to God for such amazing role modeling!