A term you see used frequently this time of year is “gratitude.” Gratitude is important to those in recovery for various reasons. However, people on a recovery journey are not the only ones who can derive benefits from understanding and practicing gratitude. Learning to practice gratitude yields positive outcomes for our mental health and helps us find a deeper connection with our spiritual wellbeing.
Gratitude is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the state of being grateful: thankfulness.” Furthermore, grateful is defined as “appreciate of benefits received”, “affording pleasure or contentment”, or “pleasing by reason of comfort supplied or discomfort alleviated.” While gratitude may not always feel directly pleasing to us, its fair to say that having an attitude of gratitude does help us develop some level of comfort. I say this because while it is easy to identify obvious “benefits received”—say, I’m thankful for winning the lottery or I’m grateful for a free trail of HBO max—other times gratitude may seem like celebrating the norm and that is absolutely ok. For example, gratitude can be found in the simplest declarations we might not always think of during more prosperous times. One may be thankful they have their health, still have the job that just a few months ago they were complaining about, being able to eat 2-3 meals a day, or just waking up in the morning. While this secret is known to those who have seen struggle and managed to find gratitude, 2020 has been extraordinarily difficult for a large segment of the world’s population. More and more people are finding ways to be grateful for what normally would be seen as routine, everyday things they used to take for granted. Some might argue that this is not abnormal and is even the core of gratitude, therefore, it should be your normal practice.
As mentioned above gratitude has many benefits to our wellbeing. In a 2015 article, Psychology Today lists 7 benefits of gratitude backed by scientific study:
- opens the door to new relationships
- improves physical health
- improves psychological health
- enhances empathy and reduces aggression
- better sleep
- improved self esteem
- increasing mental strength
The above benefits are not the only benefits that may be derived from gratitude, however, that is an impressive list and do we really need more convincing that we should learn how to cultivate an attitude of gratitude?
So, you are ready to develop an attitude of gratitude, how can you do so? The simplest way is each day try to think of at least 3 things you are thankful for. You could start a gratitude journal where you write down good things that occur each day as well as things you identified you are thankful for. Practice a gratitude “ritual”, ex. Saying grace before a meal. Make a conscious effort to express gratitude to someone or commit to doing an act of kindness. Look for gratitude or “silver linings” in your challenges. Begin a mindfulness practice. Savor time with loved ones. Improve happiness in other areas of your life.
The possibilities are endless so experiment and find what works for you. Practicing gratitude regularly will help re-train your brain and boost your wellbeing.
How do you practice gratitude? We would love to hear from you. Comment below or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
-Chris Dorian, Founder of Know Your Why Recovery
“gratitude.” Merriam-Webster.com. 2020 https://www.merriam-webster.com (Web. 21 November 2020)
“grateful.” Merriam-Webster.com. 2020 https://www.merriam-webster.com (Web. 21 November 2020)
Morin, Amy. (2015, April 3). 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude: Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201504/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-gratitude.
KidsHealth Behavioral Health Experts. 3 Ways to Practice Gratitude: KidsHealth. https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/gratitude-practice.html.
WomensMedia. (2016, July 8) 8 Ways to Have more Gratitude Everyday: Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2016/07/08/8-ways-to-have-more-gratitude-every-day/?sh=4e1b67b41d54.