Thankfulness, Happiness, and Gratitude are essential to Addiction Recovery!
The month of November was a joyful time for many of us. We get to see those far away cousins we love so much, gather with the entire family at your grandparents, or maybe make new traditions with some great friends. The whole month of November was a time of thankfulness and gratitude for many as they anticipate their holiday; participate in appreciation challenges online (Click HERE to go to Facebook’s “30-Days of Gratitude”) and journal about that for which they are grateful. Remembering all for which you are grateful, telling people why you love them, and maybe hearing why others love you can definitely work together to make December a warm and fuzzy month full of good feelings.
Now that the leftovers have been finished and your turkey coma has begun to wear off, you’re probably easing back into your normal routine of the work grind, school, children, and friends. It may have been “trending” to talk about what you were grateful for last month, but now you’re just trying to get prepared for the next holidays, so you might forget to count your blessings, and all that gratitude might slip just a little. And with the year sprinting to a close as we dash to cross off our holiday shopping lists with little time for anything else, is there any wonder why so many people confess that December is one of the most stressful months of the year? (Check out these links to articles: Click HERE to read “December is the most stressful month for couples as they fret about Christmas and finances, study reveals“, “Christmas period is the most stressful for employees“, “For women, it’s the most stressful time of the year” for more information.)
December is Stressful for many but does it have to be?
Science has proven that gratitude is a major player in how satisfied we are with our lives. Not money, not a better job, not more well-mannered children, as great as all those things would be…but pure gratitude for what we have. Not the automatic, routine “thanks” that you mumble while your mom is watching, but genuine, heartfelt appreciation for the things and people around us.
Numerous studies have been undertaken to help researchers understand whether grateful people are more content (they are!), whether gratitude plays a role in how successful we are (it does!), and whether or not overall gratitude plays a role in our physical health (most likely yes!). It’s no wonder the simple art of being truly thankful would be so interesting to scientists: it’s free, has no adverse side effects, and the benefits seem just to keep piling up.
A daily habit of expressing gratitude, much like the social media challenges online, can help make it a routine that we don’t forget. Whether you announce it publicly or keep a private journal, take a few moments to think about what you are thankful for each day, and try to do it at the same time each day. It could be the first thing you do in the morning, a few moments before every meal, or it could become part of your morning commute rather than exchanging sign language with the cars around you. But don’t just hurriedly rush through it to check another thing off your to-do list—that is akin to the forced “thanks” you eked out for your mother’s benefit and means very little.
Instead, take a moment to think about your life, your day, your friends and family. Sit quietly wherever you wish, and take a deep breath. Try to sit without thinking about the other things you have to do, and just focus on what is good about your life your day, or just this hour. Start with your breathing; notice that you can wiggle your feet, that your body is healthy. From there, see what comes up. It could be a good book or the love from a child.
List a few things you appreciate or list a hundred. Journal about it or download an app to keep track with your phone:
Click HERE to check out “5 Awesome iOS Apps for Starting & Keeping a Gratitude Journal”
Write a letter to just one friend that you feel thankful for, or pledge to write one a week to many friends. No matter what you do, find a way to have at least one small moment of gratitude each day, and notice as your blood pressure lowers, your body registers slightly less pain, your mind clears, and stress falls away bit by bit.
Bishop James Faust once said, “A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility.” When you’re truly feeling gratitude for your life, for your health, for things and people around you, there’s little room for judgment of others, little room for harsh talk to yourself. There’s a lessened sense of self-importance when you focus on what you are thankful for because being thankful means you acknowledge the good around you and not in yourself. Less emphasis on yourself and critical judgments of what is around you makes room for more happiness within. Don’t let your gratefulness end just because Thanksgiving is over; gratefulness should truly be an everyday event and not relegated to one day a year that revolves around a table full of food. So many people think they need to pay for peaceful moments in their lives—through yoga classes, spa days, and retreats in the wilderness—but forget that daily peace is always just one grateful moment away.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out this radio special distributed by Public Radio International on: “The Science of Gratitude”. Click HERE to listen to the “Science of Gratitude Radio Special‘.
Gulf Breeze Recovery teaches clients about gratefulness and how to uncover their own mental well-being for a life of peace without drugs or alcohol. If you or a loved one are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction call us at 833.551.2356