The topic of gratitude is simple… maybe too simple. Unfortunately, the longer we stay sober, the more we may neglect to acknowledge or express gratitude on a daily basis. Reputable, research-backed studies over the past several years have found that a consistent gratitude practice correlates with greater overall happiness and well-being for all types of people, not just those of us in recovery. Gratitude can improve our health, help us heal from past trauma, and assist us in building healthy, loving relationships. Gratitude opens us up to experience more positive emotions while allowing us to relish the rewarding aspects of helping others in sobriety. With gratitude, we can openly acknowledge goodness, both in ourselves and in others. In my opinion, the greatest benefit of a gratitude practice is connecting us to our higher power.
Many sponsors require their sponsees to incorporate gratitude lists into their daily prayer and meditation time in the mornings or evenings. This type of gratitude practice can be as simple as writing down a list, “I’m grateful for: [family/ friends/ pets/ home/ sobriety/ AA/ therapist/ exercise/ yoga/ etc.],” then meditating on how the items in the list impact your life constructively. Gratitude lists encourage us to focus on the positive forces working in our lives, which are the very things we tend to overlook when our schedules get busy or stressful.
Another gratitude practice involves contemplating what life would be like without the things we are grateful for – this is called “mental subtraction.” By imagining our lives without a specific thing or person in it, we can better recognize how truly lucky and blessed we are to have it. Though it might be difficult to imagine our lives without a certain relationship or experience, by mentally subtracting it from time to time, we can better appreciate our current reality.
With a consistent gratitude practice, we may eventually forgive ourselves for our past transgressions. This is one of the 9thStep Promises, which states that we will “not regret the past, nor with to shut the door on it.” By seeing that our current state of health and happiness wouldn’t exist but-for our disease of addiction, we can grow to become grateful for our addictions.
Today, I am grateful alcoholic, because it has given me faith in a higher power, hope for tomorrow, and the tools to live life on life’s terms. But I would not be a grateful alcoholic had I not received the support and direction from fellow addicts at treatment centers and sober living facilities. The folks at Lakewood Recovery can help you or your loved one develop a consistent gratitude practice that will help to heal past wounds, whether self-inflicted or not. The journey back into “normal” living can be stressful – and when it is, Lakewood Recovery knows that it is even more vital that you recognize the things in your life for which you are grateful.
By: Dana M
Call Zach Rakusin For Availability (214) 462-5619