Hello fellow #WSTC Alumni. Mid-Summer is upon us and it’s getting hot out there. While thinking about my topic for this month issue, I feel compelled to write about something that will help us all in our recovery and never go out of style. It’s easy to become complacent, take things for granted or become lazy about doing the positive things we need to take care of ourselves on a daily basis. Life happens. We have jobs and those jobs are surely demanding. We have families whom require much of our attention and energy. We have our recovery programs; going to meetings, spending time with sponsors, attending therapist appointments and working steps. From time to time, it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed and at times unappreciated. It is perfectly normal to feel this way; however it is important to not believe ourselves to be victims. The truth is that we are survivors. Most people will not ever face the type of adversity that we have faced and conquered. This should be a source of immense pride for you and your families. It is for me and mine. One of the many recovery tools I picked up while I was a client of WSTC was that practicing gratitude is essential to keeping a positive attitude and living a healthful life free of drugs and alcohol.
Webster’s Dictionary defines Gratitude as a feeling of appreciation or thanks. Symptomatic of addiction thinking, we tend dwell on the negatives and/or bring everything to worst case scenarios in our minds. As you probably know already, these doomsday scenarios are not frequently our reality. Practicing gratitude is an exercise intended to gradually turn our negative mind-sets around into positive ones. The operative term here is practice. For those of us whom have battled addiction, we know that we have historically focused on instant gratification. We want it fast and we want it now. Therefore, it will take time to retrain ourselves to be satisfied with incremental progress. Nothing worthwhile happens overnight. Michael Jordan did not become the best basketball player of a generation and arguably of all time by just lacing up his sneakers and stepping onto the court. He spent countless hours on and off the court perfecting his skills to become the champion we know him as.
The benefits of developing a gratitude practice are well-researched and numerous. We now have scientific proof that people who practice gratitude through activities such as keeping a gratitude journal are more loving, forgiving, and optimistic about the future. They exercise more frequently, report fewer illnesses, and generally feel better about their lives? . At least once a day, usually during some time I have to myself, I make a list of at least ten things for which I am grateful. It has now become habit because I have been practicing it for a while. Of course, that doesn’t have to be the only prescription for your happiness. Mix it up. You can paint a picture or make a drawing of what you are grateful for. Everyone expresses themselves differently. Feel free to get creative and make it fun. Examples of what I am grateful for today include being clean/sober, my good health, the good health of my family and friends, having a family that is loving, enjoying my work, exercising, having a roof over my head, having food to eat, having money to pay my bills, free time, going to the beach and having a strong support network.
You have the tools at your disposal. You learned some while here at WSTC. The good news is that you do not need to do everything at one time. Take it easy on yourself. Don’t take yourself so seriously but be serious about your recovery. I hope you feel loved and supported because you do not need to do this alone. White Sands is here to support you and I am here to support you. If no one told you today that they love you, I do!
Lyubomirsky, S. (2007). The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want. Penguin Books: New York, NY.