Essentials for Practicing Gratitude in Recovery

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“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward

Practicing gratitude is an increasingly popular focus area for scientific research. Study after study has revealed a myriad of benefits for emotional and physical health built by regularly exercising the gratitude “muscle.”

However, the recovery community has known the power of gratitude for a long time. More than creating a gratitude list, actively practicing gratitude has always been essential to recovery success.

What about those deep in feelings of guilt, shame, helplessness? The good news is that gratitude is a mental outlook that can be developed and strengthened over time. The great news is that the benefits occur almost immediately with significant impact on your recovery success and overall well-being.

Gratitude strengthens your recovery, ushering in joy, peace and selflessness that will empower your journey and positively impact, even inspire, your loved ones.

It will usher you to a place where you truly, innately appreciate the gift of sobriety.

Gratitude: Five Essential Daily Practices

Offer Daily Affirmations

Start your day in gratitude. Reserve five minutes each morning to offer appreciation while you enjoy a cup of coffee, head out for an early run or even after you hit the snooze button (the first time). Keep it simple or more profound, but make sure to start each morning in thankfulness and set the tone for the day.

Appreciate the Small Stuff

Be grateful for the little things that make life great. Be grateful for the simple beauty of a clear blue sky, the grace of a flock of birds, the sweet hug from a friend, the majesty of a starry night – things that went long unnoticed and unappreciated before recovery.

Share the Love

Gratitude involves more than self-reflection; it should be practiced as love in action. In recovery, the brain begins to heal and as it heals, with practice, selfishness and other damaging attitudes begin to fade away. Replacing selfishness with gratitude can be revealed through intentional service to others by volunteering, charitable giving and even supporting others in recovery.

Be Generous in Appreciation

Throughout each day, be mindful of your interactions and observations of others. Be mindful of sharing your gratitude for others as they cross your path or as you observe good deeds on behalf of strangers. Be generous in sharing and showing your appreciation for their actions and efforts as you go about your day.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

Gratitude journals are a popular resource for cultivating mindfulness. Keeping a gratitude journal is a simple activity that can further deepen and exercise your attitude of appreciation. At the end of the day, simply write down a list of what you are grateful for in that moment. Some days your entries may be brief, other days may encourage an intense, lengthy entry. If you are having trouble, experts recommend asking the following questions: “Who or what inspired me today?” “What made me smile today?” “What’s the best thing that happened today?” No writing skills required – the practice itself is enough to work on your gratitude “muscle.”

You are here. You have worked hard to get here. Dive deeper into your sobriety by expressing daily gratitude for a life in recovery. Be grateful for a fresh start, for possibilities and opportunities. Be grateful for your recovery.