How Can we Cultivate Gratitude in Recovery?”
If you think back, you can probably pinpoint at least one point in your life when you really felt a deep sense of gratitude. Maybe everything was going really good–you and your friends and family were all healthy, and you didn’t have any major problems to speak of. Perhaps you had just come into some money, or maybe you just started a really exciting relationship. Whatever the situation might have been, you felt a deep sense of gratitude. Note that you weren’t just being giddy about your good fortune–you had a deeper sense of appreciation for your life that went way beyond simply being happy. In that moment, you had a deep appreciation for existence itself–for living life with all of its challenges, with all of the tough times included. You were grateful for all of it.
Although we have all experienced gratitude like this, we know that such moments can be fleeting, and eventually we all return to a much more “average” baseline of gratitude. We might not be miserable and ungrateful, but we are probably not walking around, filled with joy, and overflowing with gratitude, either. Most of us spend our days somewhere in the middle of this continuum. But what if we made a conscious effort to practice gratitude on a daily basis?
Cultivating Gratitude Requires Us to Slow Down
Most of us causally dismiss the idea of gratitude in our minds all the time. Think about it: most of the time, we are trying to stay busy, be productive, get things done at work, etc. The idea of appreciating the little things is a mere distraction at best–our busy minds tell us that everything will be alright if we can just get our work done properly and in a timely manner. So it becomes hurry-up-and-wait, and most of us find ourselves discontent when we have nothing to do, instead of being able to relax. On the other hand, if we take a bit more time with things, and be mindful; be appreciative–we can enjoy the simple things in life while still getting our work done. Think about it: what are you here for? Are you just some busy robot, rushing to get things done so that later you can…..what? Start enjoying life right now. Relax, slow down, take time to reflect, and start appreciating life.
Make a Gratitude List.
This is a popular tactic for developing gratitude. It might feel a bit silly at first, but sit down and force yourself to write out each thing that you are grateful for in your life. This method is tried and tested…very therapeutic.
Eliminate Self Pity
Don’t allow yourself to engage in the destructive trap of self-pity. Stay aware of when you start to slip into self-pity mode and use these techniques to prevent yourself from feeling sorry for yourself.
Get “Out of Self”
Do something for someone else. Volunteer. Chair an AA meeting. Work with other recovering addicts. Help the newcomer. Reach out and help others without expecting to get anything back in return. Your spirits will be lifted by these efforts.
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