“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
There have been numerous articles, books, and studies outlining the power of gratitude, the importance of gratitude, and the value that gratitude can have in our lives. The above quote illustrates the power of gratitude. Even here in our MARC blog, we typically take time around the Thanksgiving holiday to remind people how vital an attitude of gratitude is, not just during the holiday season but throughout the year. Finding gratitude each day throughout our lives will no doubt yield a powerful return on how each of us views the time we spent with ourselves and each other.
Some other powerful quotes about gratitude:
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” – Eckhart Tolle
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” – Willie Nelson
“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” – G.K. Chesterton
Gratitude can be expressed in many different ways, but the important first step in living a life guided by gratitude is making sure that you are able to be grateful and maintain gratitude on a daily basis. Thankfulness and gratitude are important attitudes developed by those living lives in recovery from addiction. And just like everyone else, individuals in early recovery rarely are grateful naturally, but rather need to develop the attitude through daily practice. However, one these daily practices become habitual, it seems most people do not need to work to be grateful or find gratitude, but rather through those daily actions naturally turn their attitude and their mindset into one steered by thankfulness and gratitude. One of the more important practices people in early sobriety or early recovery from addiction find is helpful is the writing and keeping of a gratitude list.
What is a gratitude list?
A gratitude list is simply a short list or diary a person creates to keep track of things that they are grateful for in their lives. This can include any number of things: people, relationships, successes, overcoming challenges, material things, or feelings. Many people in early recovery from addiction are directed to create a gratitude list or keep a gratitude journal. This can be done by making a new list every single day or can be keeping an ongoing list. Some people are directed or prefer to write a gratitude list in the morning, while others prefer to write one at the end of the day each night before bed. There is no right or wrong way to make or keep a gratitude list, but the purpose is to take regular action in compiling a list of things one is grateful for that can be referred to at all times, including when times are good but especially during difficult or challenging times.
Everyone can have their own approach or style when creating a gratitude list; the important piece is making sure the action is being taken to make it.
“I found the most helpful thing was to sit and truly find the things that I was grateful for. I put on the list things that didn’t change with the wind but things I was truly grateful for, like my parents, my siblings, my sobriety, the people that never gave up on me. So, I made a list of the really meaningful things that would never change, to remind myself to always be grateful for them. Then I laminated it and put it in my wallet, and now I refer to it often.” said Steven B., a person in long-term recovery.
It’s also important to note that the things on a gratitude list can change over time. The way someone perceives life and those things for which they are grateful can develop and mature. Here’s an example:
Matthew is another person is long-term recovery. He said, “When I first got sober, my sponsor told me that I should write a gratitude list every night. So I did. However, in the beginning I would put on the list things that were more material, like money or my car, or things like the Philadelphia Eagles. Now that has changed to more intrinsic or emotional things, like the ability to be of service, my relationship with my parents or my wife or my children, and the opportunity to show my kids the importance of equality. Although I still include the Eagles. I have high hopes for this year’s draft, you see.”
No matter what approach or technique is used, or what is written down, the importance of a gratitude list cannot be understated. For both people in early recovery from addiction, or anyone that is navigating life, there will always be ups and downs, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The power and beauty of a gratitude list is that it has the ability to bring people back to center, to recognize what is important, to create a pause button, and the realign themselves with what is really important.
There is much research that concludes that gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Being thankful and grateful makes us happier, as well as makes us better people, better spouses, better children, better parents, better friends, and better, more productive employers or employees. It makes us better parts of our communities, and it goes a long way to improving our mindset, health, happiness, resiliency, and approaches to life. Therefore, a gratitude list is a small, simply, powerful tool to make sure we are reminding ourselves of having an attitude of gratitude as we attack life on life’s terms.
If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorder issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com.