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Posted by on in Alcoholism

http://www.newbridgerecovery.com/how-gratitude-can-change-your-life/ --->Originally posted by me

As Thanksgiving looms around the corner, the term gratitude gets used more frequently. Many people think gratitude just means being thankful for all the wonderful things in your life. Is this a good definition of gratitude? In my opinion it is not. Having had my share of both good and bad luck in life, I have learned that gratitude is a deliberate daily practice that is not influenced by material possessions or success. As David Steindl-Rast once wrote,

“Good luck can make us happy, but it cannot give us lasting joy. The root of joy is gratefulness. We tend to misunderstand the link between joy and gratefulness. We notice that joyful people are grateful and suppose that they are grateful for their joy. But the reverse is true: their joy springs from gratefulness. If one has all the good luck in the world, but takes it for granted, it will not give one joy. Yet even bad luck will give joy to those who manage to be grateful for it.”

It is easy to be grateful when things are going your way; it is much harder to find the silver lining in setbacks and tragedy. However practicing gratitude in the challenging phases of your life can truly transform your outlook and ultimately your happiness. The concept of gratitude has importance in recovery, 12 step programs, and spirituality. Wise members of these groups see the benefits of remaining grateful in trying times, such as early sobriety or the loss of a loved one. The psychology behind practicing gratitude is fairly simple; when we acknowledge the blessings in our life it keeps us in a positive mindset. This is especially helpful when we are depressed or stressed out. In such times we often find ourselves looking at the world through a negative lens, but making a list of things we are grateful for in our life often disrupts the negative thinking. Remaining grateful is a practice, and can take time to become a daily habit. Many people report that making a simple list of the things they are grateful for in their life is a great start to incorporating gratitude into their everyday lives. Others make sure to think of one thing they are grateful for before every meal. Gratitude is about pausing throughout our busy lives to take a minute and focus on the blessings of life.

How can gratitude change your life?

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Posted by on in Recommended Reading

In early recovery, I was often told, “Trust me, you’ll feel better soon”, or, “I know this is hard, but I promise, you’ll feel better soon.” I lived by those words.  I was so shaky, ashamed and scared. I felt awful.  I desperately hoped the non-stop physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual suffering would stop.  I wanted so badly to feel better, physically as well as emotionally. I tried each and every day to focus on those words of reassurance and deny what I thought and felt inside.  I held tight to the recommendations of my recovery role models, the encouragement from my friends and family outside the rooms of recovery and my own willingness to get better, hoping eventually I’d feel better.

And eventually I did, but not in the way I had expected.  What began to happen was I started to feel my feelings better.  I started to feel happiness better, I started to feel anger better, and I started to feel sadness better.

Although this sounds like a play on words – feeling my feelings better - the point is, in order for me to experience healthy recovery I had to allow myself to actually feel what I had long been trying to deflect, change or control.

For example, during the Christmas holidays my emotions would always kick into overdrive.   No matter what age I was, I would become completely nostalgic.  I’d think about stringing the lights with my dad, hearing my grandfather whistling a holiday tune or sitting at the top of the staircase with my brothers and sister waiting for my Dad to tell us Santa had arrived.  I’d get excited to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” with my family or maybe catch an old Charles Dickens movie by myself.  As I got older the holidays stopped being those experienced as a child.  They became strung by addiction instead of lights and wrapped around bottles of wine with little food instead of gifts presented with love.

I won’t lie, those first few winter holidays in recovery were difficult.  I couldn’t stop focusing on how sad, angry and frustrated I felt for all those Christmas and New Year holidays lost in the blur of addiction.  In those early recovery years I had difficulty fully embracing the magic of the season.  To be honest, I really wanted nothing more than to get through the series of events, wishing they would just be over.

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