Accessing the Power of Gratitude in Sobriety

 

What is gratitude? Do you ever think about this? Why should you feel grateful? Is this an innate human trait?

Let’s investigate this concept of gratitude, something that modern society is seemingly having to relearn and repower. How can you nurture that feeling of gratitude and that personality trait of gratefulness now that you have stopped drinking and are sober?

Gratitude is a feeling and an emotion, and it makes us feel happier. Gratefulness is different, it is more of a personality trait, but both of these positive sides to human nature do come from the root word grateful which means thankful or appreciative. We live in a ‘rushing around’ world and many of us seem to be stuck trying to survive by earning an income, often in a job that we do not enjoy, just to pay the bills. Or we love what we do but there is just no time in the day to stop and smell the roses!

When something terrible happens to us or our loved ones, we then get a huge wake-up call to look a bit closer at our lives and wonder why we are living like this and what we can do to change it. Being grateful for the smallest things every day can change our brains and the way we think!

 

Being Grateful for Sobriety

The same goes for sobriety and when we stop drinking – many of us stop drinking and feel overloaded with resentment, sadness and emptiness that we had to stop. Yet most of our friends still drink so that is unfair, and we feel hard done by. But we can turn this around and look at our lives and say, ”Wow, how grateful am I that I don’t need to drink anymore, I am sober and healthy and clear-headed and sane and I have more time to focus on me and my friends, a community effort and some people who are struggling, instead of just reaching for that drink to drown out all the feelings!”

According to Psychology Today, “Gratitude is a spontaneous feeling but, increasingly, research demonstrates its value as a practice—that is, making conscious efforts to count one’s blessings. Studies show that people can deliberately cultivate gratitude—and there are important social and personal benefits to doing so. It is possible to feel grateful for loved ones, colleagues, animals, nature, and life in general. The emotion generates a climate of positivity that both reaches inward and extends outward.”

The practice of gratitude as a tool for happiness has been around in society for years. Long-term studies support gratitude’s effectiveness, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of well-being, and a faster rate of recovery from surgery.

But while we may acknowledge gratitude’s many benefits, it still can be difficult to sustain. So many of us are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives. And for gratitude to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just a word. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit. And that can take some time.

That’s why practicing gratitude makes so much sense. When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we give ourselves the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing.

Let’s Practice Gratitude

Remember that gratitude isn’t a blindly optimistic approach in which the bad things in life are whitewashed or ignored. It’s more a matter of where we put our focus and attention. Pain and injustice exist in this world, but when we focus on the gifts of life, we gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude balances us and gives us hope.

There are many things to be grateful for: colourful autumn leaves, legs that work, friends who listen and really hear, chocolate, fresh eggs, warm jackets, tomatoes, the ability to read, roses, our health, and butterflies. What’s on your list? I feel gratitude on my morning walks, when no one else is up and it is quite dark and I hear the birds waking up, I see owls flying and perching, I see the sun peep up above the horizon and the day starts. I feel these pockets of joy and we can also record these pockets of joy and turn them into something greater, a joyful day! 

Some Ways to Practice Gratitude

  • Keep a gratitude journal in which you list things for which you are thankful. You can make daily, weekly or monthly lists. Greater frequency may be better for creating a new habit, but just keeping that journal where you can see it will remind you to think in a grateful way.
  • Make a gratitude collage by drawing or pasting pictures.
  • Practice gratitude around the dinner table or make it part of your nighttime routine.
  • Make a game of finding the hidden blessing in a challenging situation.
  • When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel.
  • Notice how gratitude is impacting your life. Write about it, sing about it, express thanks for gratitude.

As you practice, an inner shift begins to occur, and you may be delighted to discover how content and hopeful you are feeling. That sense of fulfilment is gratitude at work. Then, the more you practice gratitude, the healthier you become and you can beat the blues away!

Get Better with Gratitude

Psychologists find that, over time, feeling grateful boosts happiness and fosters both physical and psychological health, even among those already struggling with mental health problems. Studies show that practicing gratitude curbs the use of words expressing negative emotions and shifts inner attention away from such negative emotions as resentment and envy, minimizing the possibility of ruminating, which is a hallmark of depression.”

If you feel stressed in your day to day routines, stop for a just a moment and look around and say, what am I grateful today? I have a job, I can buy food, I have beautiful children who need me, a partner and a lovely home. I have birds in my garden and sun in the window! Then go back to the task at hand and see if you feel any better. People who are genuinely grateful tend to nurture better relationships, have fewer mental issues, sleep better and increase their mental stamina too.

Start now: what do you have to feel grateful for?

If you are sober, count the many blessings you are receiving and if you want to be sober but you are fearful, think about what you are grateful for and how you can enhance this feeling with sobriety.

Chat to me when you feel like it, I am here! Click on this image for more information!

 

 

 

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