It has been said, you can’t be envious when you are grateful. Anger has no foothold when you approach life with a heart of thanksgiving. You tend to be happier. It has even been said that gratitude is the antidote to fear. When you have gratitude in your life, you have a good foothold on what is important. It shouldn’t surprise us then to find that a spirit of thanksgiving in our outlook, life, and overall attitude is essential in addiction recovery.
You might already be thinking, well that’s good for people who have lots to be thankful for. But I have bills. My friends just stabbed me in the back. My job is going downhill fast. Everything seems to be falling apart. What do I have to be grateful for?
While not to belittle those things, there is always something to be grateful for. Can you walk? Did you receive a smile from a child or loved one recently? Are you breathing at least? There is always something to be grateful for. The more we live in this reality the more whole we are and able to face the waves of life as they approach. And remember there are plenty of wealthy folks living joyless lives. Likewise, some of the poorest of the poor are the happiest in the world.
The truth is a little positive thinking makes a pretty big difference. Now before you walk away from a touchy feely idea like “positive thinking,” take a moment to reflect on your life right now. Your life leading up to now. Humans have a tendency to focus on the negative. We find something that is wrong in our lives or in our surroundings and we fixate. We think about it. We give it life. We repeat it over and over in our heads: I am a mess. I am a mess. I am a mess.
This is partly why one of the most powerful moments in cinematic history is the repetition of a phrase. In the classic movie, Good Will Hunting, a therapist who grew up suffering abuses from his alcoholic father interacts with the highly intelligent Will who also suffered abuses. When Sean (Robin Williams) breaks through to Will (Matt Damon), it was the repetition that did the work.
Sean: It’s not your fault.
Will: [Will shrugs] Yeah, I know that.
Sean: Look at me son.
[Will locks eyes with Sean] Sean: It’s not your fault.
Will: [Will nods] I know.
Sean: No. It’s not your fault.
Will: I know
Sean: No, no, you don’t. It’s not your fault.
On the scene goes until the breakthrough.
We tell ourselves things all day long. And they tend to be negative things.
I don’t deserve this. I am unhappy. I am an addict. I have ruined everything.
Okay that’s fine. But the problem is these thoughts form us. They shape us. When our constant thoughts are unhappy and negative thoughts, we become unhappy and negative. When our constant thoughts are that we are not good enough, we become not good enough.
Now on the other side, what do you think happens when our constant thoughts are more positive? What about when our thoughts are filled with gratitude?
And it doesn’t have to be a fake, 24/7 mantra “I’m happy. I’m happy.” You may not be happy. You may be experiencing depression. And that’s okay. But you can still be grateful. That’s what’s so great about gratitude. It’s not false. Your life can be going to hell and you can still be grateful for the people in your life. For the dog at your side. For the air in your lungs. And guess what happens when you make that your repetition? When it takes more of your energy than your negative thoughts?
Well you sleep better. For one. You stay more motivated. You are happier. Oh and you are less likely to relapse. And this will save your life. Right?
Some people think gratitude might be tough in recovery. But that’s nonsense. What about being grateful for one more day of sobriety? What about the relationships you are building and rebuilding? What about your support group? What about the people who loved you enough to help you get to rehab? What about the fact that you are still walking the face of the earth which was definitely not a given when you were full bore stuck in the grave of addiction?
Keep a gratitude list. Or just write some things down right now. Be mindful of the small things. Be okay with imperfection. Think hard, but then again, don’t overthink it. There is something you can be grateful for. Right here and right now. And from here, practice it. Live your life and make gratitude the foundation. Not negativity.
It’s possible you’ve lost all hope. You have gone too far down the path in addiction and negativity and you need help finding your way back. If this is you and you have returned to using substances to give you your temporary joys, please call us. We are here to talk you through your options and help you find the possibility of hope again. Call one of our addiction specialists, now: 844-244-7837.