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The Importance of Gratitude
October 7, 2019
When we first get clean and sober, our lives are filled with chaos and confusion. Faced with a variety of problems created when we lived our lives in active addiction, the idea of feeling grateful about anything seems pretty absurd. But even those of us just beginning our recovery journey have much about which to feel grateful. And as our recovery progresses, our sense of gratitude expands as well, eventually becoming woven into nearly every part of our lives.
Gratitude is can be defined as “feeling thankful about something or someone.” It is expressing or feeling emotion for that thing or a person you have in your life. This something or someone can be anything or anyone at all.
How We Express Gratitude
There are many ways of expressing gratitude. If you are feeling grateful for a person in your life, letting that person know that you are grateful is a powerful expression of gratitude. Some people express gratitude to a power greater than themselves through prayer. Many us active in our recovery daily express gratitude by thanking our higher power for helping us to stay clean and sober for another day. One widely-used method of expressing gratitude is regularly keeping a daily gratitude journal. However we choose to express gratitude, we find that we gain the most benefit when such expressions are made with great regularity.
Gratitude Improves Physical and Emotional Health
Many studies have suggested that expressing gratitude has many beneficial health effects. People who regularly express gratitude have strengthened immune systems, lower blood pressure, and tend to exercise more regularly. They have higher levels of positive emotions and feel more alert, alive, and awake. They are more optimistic and experience more joy, pleasure, and happiness. People who maintain a sense of gratitude are more helpful, generous, and compassionate; more outgoing and forgiving, and feel less lonely and isolated.
Grateful people are more resistant to stress, sleep better, and find an improved sense of self-esteem. While there is science to back up these claims, it is not difficult to understand why maintaining a state of gratitude is healthy. Doing so allows us to be present, to accept that there are good things all around us in spite of whatever challenges we are experiencing.
Recovery and Gratitude
For most of us, our addict lives were devoid of any sense of gratitude. We were glad when things went our way, but were never truly thankful for anything or anyone in our lives. And when things did not go our way, we become overwhelmed by intense feelings of anger and resentment. These poisonous feelings served to strengthen our addiction’s grip on us.
As we recovered, we began to connect with a higher power and allow that power to replace ourselves as the guiding force in our lives. We began to learn that this power wanted us to experience happiness and joyfulness as the direct result of being of service to others. An overwhelming sense of thankfulness for this new life flowed into us and made us begin to experience a feeling of gratitude that our previous lives lacked.
The Recovered Life: An Ongoing Expression of Gratitude
There are so many things in the recovered life for which we can be grateful. By making amends to those whom we have harmed, we begin to heal the damage we caused in our past relationships with friends and family. In making a connection with a higher power, we experience an immense sense of relief that we no longer have to live the illusion that we are in control of every tiny aspect of our lives. As we begin to help others recover, our mindset changes from one of selfishness to that of service to others. The entirety of our lives becomes something about which we feel gratitude, thankful that our lives are now firmly rooted in our recovery.
In this way, we can see that gratitude and recovery are inseparable companions. Regularly expressing gratitude improves how we feel about our lives. As our lives improve, we have more people and things to feel grateful about. This gratitude-recovery cycle is particularly important in difficult times, such as when we experience the death of a loved one. Many of us who have experienced this have found it immensely beneficial to talk with our friends in recovery who have also suffered such a loss. In doing so, we have found that great sadness of loss is tempered by the gratitude we feel from the support of our understanding and sympathetic friends. Our thankfulness for the support of others eventually surpasses the grief of our loss. In the end, gratitude wins!
This gratitude-filled life is available to each and every one of us who chooses to embrace it. Step into this life by calling Summer House Detox Center at 1-800-719-1090 . You don’t ever have to drink or use again, and you don’t ever have to be alone again. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction in West Palm Beach, give us a call or visit us at 13550 Memorial Highway Miami, FL 33161. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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