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Addiction Recovery – How Gratitude Plays a Key Role

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In the creative theory of recovery, gratitude is the mindset needed in order to oversee our progress and move us towards our goals.

In fact, gratitude is so powerful that it could practically ensure our successful recovery all by itself. But we combine this positive attitude and outlook with other processes to make for a truly remarkable recovery experience.

What is gratitude?

Most people have this mixed up a bit. Say they have a car, a job, and a roof over their head. They might remark: “I’m grateful for my job and that I have a place to live!” Fair enough. But what if your house burned down and your company suddenly went out of business? Does that mean you would no longer be grateful?

Gratitude needs to come from somewhere deeper than that. It’s about more than just “stuff.” It is an appreciation for existence itself–including both the good and the bad experiences. When you’re grateful, you can see that even the “bad” times and the “bad” experiences benefit you in at least some small way, and that they are actually necessary.

Gratitude is an attitude. You can appreciate even the “bad” things in life if you are willing to find the “good” in them. Notice the quote marks: experiences aren’t really “bad” and “good”, we label them as such based on our preferences. If something happens, it simply is, and it is up to us to interpret it and give it meaning.

Gratitude and the creative theory of recovery

So gratitude is a positive mindset that comes from deep within us and gives us an appreciation for all things. Think this helps in creating a new life for ourselves in recovery?

You bet it does! Having an “attitude of gratitude” is essential to the creative mindset. There are a few reasons for this:

1) Gratitude helps you see more opportunities - when you can appreciate the bad and the good, you’ll find more opportunities for creating powerful stuff in your life. With gratitude, “problems” become “challenges.” Gratitude changes how we see things, which eventually changes how we create things in our life.

2) Gratitude enhances learning - when you practice gratitude, you’re always looking for the silver lining in things. Regardless of what it is, you’ll start asking yourself: “What can I learn from this? How can this help me grow?” Everything becomes a learning opportunity due to a positive attitude.

Think about it: without gratitude, having a negative attitude would limit your learning ability. Instead of looking for the lesson, with a negative attitude, you simply chalk everything up to “bad luck” then whine and complain about it. The creative mindset will seek to learn all it can and overcome a negative experience, making sure not to repeat it over and over again without taking away some sort of knowledge.

What are you grateful for today?

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  • http://www.all-about-addiction.com Adi Jaffe

    Hey Patrick,
    I agree that gratitude is very important, not only for addicts, but for every single person alive (there are plenty of non-addicts who unnecessarily complain about their supposed “misfortune”).
    I’m not sure that gratitude itself would be enough to sustain recovery though, especially very early on.
    As you know, and have written about, early in recovery, most people don’t know what to do with themselves, and so even if they were appreciative, and thankful of the opportunity to clean up their life, they might act in ways that will lead to their relapse.
    Just my 2 cents, though of course, I’m grateful to have read your post, thinking about gratitude explicitly makes me appreciate what I have even more.

  • Annie

    Hi Patrick – I want to let you know that when I started reading your article the first thing that came to my mind is this book I am reading entitled, “The Power of Infinite Love and Gratitude”, by Dr. Darren Weissman. It is truly enlightening and I would recommended it to anyone who is reading your posts. I thank you again for your site as it has helped me get through this past week. I still have not heard a word from my friend. I just continue to pray that he will make the right choice and seek the proper treatment he needs to beat his addiction and truly begin a life anew in recovery. God bless – Annie

  • Patrick

    @ Adi – You’re probably right, gratitude is not enough to sustain early recovery by itself. But it’s not very likely to just happen by itself, either. Someone has to take positive action in their life and start doing some “footwork” before they can really make a decision to practice daily gratitude and make it stick. There is a reason we call it “practicing” gratitude–we never become perfect at it! Always room for growth. Thanks for your comment.

    @ Annie – Thanks for checking in again, Annie, as we are still worried about your friend, and about you. Sounds like you are still on the right path for what you need to do for yourself. Continue to pray for your friend and keep us posted….