The way we view life can set the tone for how our life goes. We can either look at life with pessimism and negativity or we can look at life with optimism and gratefulness. Life is full of ups and downs. Learning to take life in stride, appreciating what you have, where you are, and how far you have come is the best way to get through it.

You are in recovery.

You are discovering how to live in your new life.

You have come too far to let the little speed bumps of life throw you off course.

So, there is no better time than now to start incorporating gratitude into your life.

What is gratitude?

Gratitude is the practice of being thankful. Are you truly thankful for what you have? Are you thankful for where you are in life? Are you thankful for second chances? Those are big things. How about this – are you thankful for the bed you slept in last night? Are you thankful for the clothes on your back? Are you thankful for that smile from the stranger you just passed on the street?

See, those are signs of showing gratitude. Being thankful and grateful – for everything.

Why is gratitude important?

In recovery, you are learning to live sober. You are learning to find ways to get through struggles and challenges without having to turn to any substance. So, when you are encountering a day that seems to lead to a lot of less-than-ideal situations or a day when you encounter temptation – how you react is up to you.

Take this example:

Johnny has been in recovery for 7 months and seems to be doing well. He has recently started a new job. Unfortunately, he is struggling to learn this new difficult position. As if that wasn’t enough, he has been encountering issues with some of his roommates – they all don’t seem to be on the same page when it comes to their sobriety. Johnny tried to discuss this with them last night, but it turned into an argument and left ‘home’ feeling a bit uncomfortable….

Think about this: There are 2 kinds of people –

  1. The one who responds with feelings of doubt and non-existent self-worth. The type of person who plays the woe is me card or who thinks with an it’s me against the world attitude. When you think that everyone is against you, your mind will be consumed with negativity. In the above-example, Johnny could use the job situation to doubt his abilities and even use his lack of desire to learn the position as a reason for quitting –developing an attitude of I am just not good enough to do the job. He may also use the fight with his roommates to send him over the edge – If they aren’t taking their sobriety seriously, why should I? Maybe it’d be easier to join them, rather than fight them. At least home would be more comfortable.
  2. The one who believes that because the sun came out today, he or she has been given a fresh chance to walk through the world today. In the example above, if Johnny practices gratitude, he will be thankful for the opportunity to have a job to go to. He will be thankful for that he can learn new things and have the chance to grow. Grateful Johnny knows that he is the only one responsible for his sobriety and he cannot change what others do. He will not let an argument with his roommates keep him from being thankful that he is alive and has a home to go to and a bed to sleep in.

Notice the difference? Who appears more likely to succeed in recovery?

Benefits of gratitude

Wow – the benefits of gratitude are immense!

  • You are more joyful to be around. When you are happy and pleasant, you are more likely to have friends and people who want to surround themselves with your positive energy. Believe it or not, it is contagious.
  • Stress can make us sick. In fact, it can physically affect us. Having gratitude can allow us to focus on the good things in life, rather than the negative. It can make us look beyond the things that stress us out.
  • Being grateful allows us to avoid conflict with people (which also reduces stress).
  • Staying positive remains a great way to increase your health – both physically and mentally.
  • Gratitude makes you confident.

Ways to practice gratitude

While putting a smile on your face and diving headfirst into life is a great way to practice gratitude, it is not always that easy. Here are a few ways to get you started in making gratitude a daily habit:

  • Get yourself a journal that you can write in each day. Whether in the morning or evening (or both), write a list of things that you are thankful for that day.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. An optimistic outlook can be infectious. If you are struggling with something and you are surrounded by positive folks, they will likely point out the good, rather than the negative, of the situation.
  • Volunteer. Do something for others that are in need. When you help others with their challenges in life, it can help you be more grateful for the life that you have. It can teach you to never take life for granted.

How can showing gratitude change your life?

Showing gratitude can change your life. It can make you more optimistic, reduce stress, increase your feelings of self-worth, etc. In short, showing gratitude can make you stronger. You will be more equipped to handle challenges – including temptation.

Start today. Life is too short to live it in misery, walking under a dark thunder cloud. Change your perception and watch how bright the sun can shine on your life. You owe this to yourself.