Written by: Leah Roberts
The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.
Gratitude is defined as:
The Quality of being thankful; Readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
As addicts in recovery, we are aware of the importance of gratitude in our recovery process.
Especially those of us who are in treatment, or have been in treatment, understand gratitude as a huge tool in these programs.
We chose Gratitude as our Monthly Theme for May!
We want to help you as much as possible throughout your recovery.
Being grateful, showing how much you appreciate life, being thankful for those who are in it, as well as yourself, is a huge step to take in recovery.
Not to mention- It is SO important!
In this article, we will define Gratitude, and it’s importance in your recovery.
We will discuss healthy ways to express Gratitude to those in your life, show kindness to those you don’t know, as well as ways you can express Gratitude for Yourself and YOUR life.
Let’s get started shall we?
Gratitude has this unique way, of reminding us that even though life seems to “suck” right now, we have a reason why we are choosing to keep pushing forward.
And we ALL have a reason, it’s a matter of choosing to remember that reason.
Whether it’s family, friends, a career, a home, etc., there is a reason for everyone.
Don’t try to tell us you don’t have a reason, because deep down, you know there is one! Addiction has this funny way of distorting our minds into thinking that everything is falling apart.
It’s providing us with this negative mindset, where we refuse to admit that we DO have anything good going for us- even if we do. We just don’t want to remember it.
Because we feel hopeless. We feel defeated. We feel useless.
We think everyone and everything, include ourselves, would be better off with us not being in this world altogether.
It is an extremely common thought- And one that is simply NOT TRUE.
Because you have friends who love you, family who loves you- your daughter yells “Daddy!” when you come home. Do you think that is worth giving up?
Remembering what you’re Grateful for
It is SO vital to remember WHY we want to be sober, and be grateful for what we DO have- not dwell on what we don’t have.
No matter your circumstance, as dark as it may seem at times, there will always be something to be grateful for. Something worth appreciating.
In fact, the most important times to be grateful ARE in those difficult moments.
Gratitude is a powerful emotion, and it has the ability to overrule all those negative emotions you are feeling, in the moments you need it most.
A great way to help yourself remember what you are grateful for is by writing in your journal.
Not only should we be writing everyday about what we are grateful for, but WHO we are grateful for. Write why you’re grateful- what do they do, how do they do it, and why you appreciate it.
Allow gratitude to take over!
Gratitude and Kindness are Two-Peas
Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for. -Zig Ziglar
Gratitude and kindness are two peas in a pod- they go hand in hand.
Showing others gratitude and kindness to others, not only allows them to feel good, but it helps you feel good. There is no better step in recovery!
It gives you an opportunity to notice one more thing you’re grateful for, and it helps THEM know that you are thankful for everything they’ve done for you.
We’re not complete on our own.
Expressing your appreciation to your loved ones is so important. Even random acts of kindness for those you don’t know can go such a long way.
Everyone wants/needs to feel appreciated.
May every purpose involve others- life is enriched by the way we interact with and serve others.
Ways to show Gratitude and Kindness
Let’s talk about a couple of ways you can show a loved one your appreciation:
- Keep it simple- Just TELL them how much you appreciate them for helping you, believing in you, trusting you, standing by you, being with you.
- Maybe you aren’t great at face to face expression. And that’s okay; take a different approach- Write a note! You don’t even have to write that it’s from you if you don’t want to. Leave it anonymous, because either way that person will undoubtedly have a smile (or tears of joy on their face).
- Spend time with the people you love, and those who love you. Just BE there. Be present with them. It can be as simple as that. There is no sign of love, thanks, and kindness more genuine.
It doesn’t have to be complicated! That is the beauty of it.
Give small today
Even small simple things like these show kindness to those you don’t know:
- When you head to your favorite coffee shop tomorrow morning, why not buy the coffee of the person behind you in line.
- Put a bag of apples in your car, or a bag of your old jackets- if you happen upon someone less fortunate, you have something you can offer them.
- Hold the door open for someone behind you!
- Write something sweet on a sticky note today- Stick it on someone’s car window, or in a public bathroom. A Guaranteed smile (or tears of joy again?).
- As you’re driving down the road today, stop and help that guy change his flat tire, instead of speeding by.
- Give a random stranger a genuine compliment and a smile!
It’s the small acts of kindness that can show the most Gratitude. It doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming to take a step toward kindness.
When we give cheerfully and accept gracefully, everyone is blessed. -Maya Angelou
Being Grateful for YOU, and YOUR life
Just as it is important to show other’s kindness and gratitude, it is just as important to appreciate yourself too.
In recovery, it is easy for us to be negative, down on ourselves, and feel like we’re not enough.
But as another lesson to learn during your recovery- you have to first learn from the past.
Be thankful for where you are, and who you are now, because of it. Grateful for what you have now, while you work to achieve more.
“Learn to be thankful for all that you have, and all that you are, while you pursue all that you want.”
During early recovery, it can be particularly hard to think positive and remember to be thankful.
So let’s start by asking ourselves different questions, so we can have more positive answers and thoughts.
Ask yourself what’s great about your life today?
We tend to live in the past or the future, but hardly ever in the moment. What about today? What are you grateful for today?
Being thankful for ourselves and our lives does not have to be complicated. Be grateful for the small things- the things we take for granted every single day.
Remember, you’re clean and sober. You have a program.
It’s as easy as being thankful for waking up above ground, still breathing.
Start each day like this
Wake up each day, touch your feet to the floor, and:
*Think of one thing you are grateful for in your life, right now.
*Wonder what you can do for others that today
*What simple thing can you do to put a smile on someones face today
And on the days that you have time, take your journal, head outside.
Lay in a hammock, sit on the grass in your lawn, occupy a bench at the park, hang out at the beach. Flood your mind with how amazing life is.
All the things that you will miss out on if you give up- listen to the birds sing to each other, feel the warmth of the sun your skin, hear the leaves of the trees whisper to you in the wind.
Listen to the way the wind whistles through the grass around you, the sound of the waves crashing to the beach, the smell of the sea salt foaming in the sand.
Listen to the children giggling, the heart-felt laughs of those around you.
Write about it. Where you are, what you hear, what you smell, and how you feel.
What about this place, this moment, sparks something in you?
What part of this moment would you never want to forget?
It is appreciating these small things around you that matter the most, and give the most noticeable value to your life.
We often take for granted the very things that deserve the most Gratitude. – Cynthia Ozick
So how do we feel?
Are we feeling a little warm and fuzzy, full of Gratitude today?
We only want to help you as much as possible throughout your recovery, and gratitude is such an important thing to learn!
Being grateful, showing how much you appreciate life, being thankful for those who are in it, as well as yourself, is a huge step to take in recovery
So I want you leave this article today, feeling inspired to show kindness to strangers, to want to lend a helping hand. I want you to leave with a desire to show your loved ones how much you care.
But most of all I want you to leave here being grateful for yourself, your sobriety, and your recovery. Because you matter just as much as the next guy.
Everyone deserves to feel loved and appreciated.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction- Get Help.