Years ago, I seemed to have it all from the outside looking in: a great career, a handsome boyfriend, a large circle of friends. But, nothing I had was ever good enough for me and I constantly wanted more, making myself miserable through comparisons with friends as to what they had that I didn’t. It’s no surprise, then, that one night – when I was feeling sorry for myself – I drank too much and got behind the wheel, injuring two people on my way home.
With that one decision, my world turned upside down, and everything I had – including my freedom – disappeared. But hitting rock bottom forced me to start seeing the world in a different lens. Life wasn’t about having more than everybody else, I realized, but about being thankful for all I did have. This “attitude of gratitude” served me well throughout my prison sentence and stayed with me during all the years after my release, a habit that has led me to be happier and more at peace than I ever was as the person who supposedly “had it all” all those years ago.
Gratitude is a feeling of happiness that comes from appreciating what you have in your life, and it is a crucial component to being successful in recovery. When people are grateful to be sober, they will have motivation to do what is needed in order to protect their sobriety, and be less likely to develop negative “stinking thinking” and slip towards a relapse. They will also be able to face the challenges that confront them with hope and determination and see setbacks more as a chance to grow rather than as another instance where life handed them the short end of the stick. Finally, practicing gratitude in your recovery will enable you to focus on all the opportunities a clean and sober life has opened up for you, rather than dwelling on all the things your addiction has taken away.
So what can you do to increase the gratitude in your life?
Being mindful of, and taking the time to appreciate, the little things that we experience each day is a great way to start. Whether it be as simple as savoring the smell of coffee in the morning, or basking in the sunshine when you go outside, appreciating life’s small blessings will put you in the proper mindset to overcome life’s obstacles and ultimately help you maintain long-term sobriety. And with it being the beginning of 2020, there’s no better time than now to start!