Those who manage to give up any type of substance abuse will usually have a great deal to be grateful for. They have just escaped a possible death sentence and can now look forward to another chance in life. It is possible for people in recovery to completely turn their life around and live their dreams. Those who manage to remain grateful are likely to be the most successful.
Gratitude can be defined as a feeling of thankfulness for a benefit that an individual has received. It is not the same as indebtedness where the individual feels that they owe something to somebody else and are therefore under obligation to repay them. People can experience gratitude towards other people or just the events in their life. The individual who manages to escape an addiction is likely to feel grateful for their new freedom.
The aim of a gratitude list if help people focus on the good things that are in their life. Humans have a tendency to take the good stuff for granted, but this type of journaling can prevent this from happening. By keeping a record of the things that they feel grateful for it will ensure a positive outlook on life. This can be particularly important for people who are in recovery from an addiction. It is when people take their recovery for granted that they are most likely to lose it.
There are some definite benefits of keeping a gratitude list in recovery including:
* It is easy for people to begin taking their recovery for granted. A gratitude list will prevent this from happening.
* It is highly beneficial for people to keep a positive attitude in their recovery. Those who regularly think about the good things in their life will be able to maintain a positive attitude.
* Somebody is less likely to relapse if they are grateful for what they currently have.
* If the individual is having thoughts of relapse they will be able to read their gratitude list and be reminded of what they have to lose.
* It is easy for people to miss all the things they have to feel good about. A gratitude list will be a good reminder.
* This type of journaling can also be a good way for the individual to gauge their progress in recovery.
When people first become sober they are likely to experience a great deal of relief. Their years of suffering have come to an end, and they are understandably going to feel highly grateful for this. It seems to be human nature to take the familiar for granted, and this is what happens with people and their recovery. When they first become sober it all feels so new and exciting but eventually it just becomes normal. No matter how good things get they will become normal and taken for granted after a bit of time.
If people take their recovery too much for granted it can lead to problems. It may mean that they are not willing to fight hard to keep their sobriety. As soon as they hit a rocky patch in their recovery they may decide to relapse because they don’t believe that they have that much to lose.
It is suggested that those individuals who continue to feel grateful for their recovery will never relapse. This is because their gratitude will keep them motivated to do the right things to keep them sober. They never really take their sobriety for granted and so it continues to be something precious and worth fighting for. Those individuals who slip towards relapse will have forgotten how much better their life has become – they are no longer grateful.
Stinking thinking refers to a situation where people are full of negativity. They have a pessimistic outlook about their future in recovery, and may also be full of anger and resentment. They have reverted to their old patterns of thinking that they used in the midst of their addiction. Stinking thinking can involve:
* Bitterness about things that happened in the past.
* Ill-will towards other people.
* Experiencing pleasure upon hearing about other people’s failures – this is usually referred to as Schadenfruede.
* Holding an overly pessimistic view of life.
* Feeling superior to everyone else.
* Feeling inferior to everyone else.
* Making mountains out of molehills. The individual will blow any problems out of proportion.
* They will tend to view the world in black or white with things either right or wrong. This is not a good way to look at life because there can be so many gray areas and uncertainties.
* This type of thinking involves spending too much time focused on the faults of other people.
* They will be self-obsessed and behave in a grandiose manner.
Stinking thinking is a dangerous state of mind that can put the individual on a path to relapse or dry drunk syndrome. Those people who deliberately try to cultivate gratitude will be less likely to suffer from stinking thinking.
A gratitude list is just one type of journaling that can benefit people in recovery. Other types of journaling include:
* A daily diary journal is where people just document the notable things that happen to them each day.
* In a stream of consciousness diary the individual just writes down everything that comes into their heads. They make no attempt to edit their writing in any way.
* People in recovery can also start a spiritual diary where they record their experiences and thoughts while trying to develop their spirituality.
* A health/exercise journal is where the individual records their efforts to get physically back in shape.
All of these different types of journals can be of benefit to people in recovery. Most individuals will find that certain types are more suitable for specific periods in their sobriety. The daily diary and gratitude list are probably the most effective type of journaling for people in early recovery.
Creating a gratitude list does not have to be too much of a chore. There are no exact rules for how people do this. When creating a gratitude list it may be helpful to:
* The usual way to create a gratitude list is to just right down things in list form. This way the individual might only use one or two words to describe each thing they are grateful for.
* It is also possible for people to write a gratitude list in a longer form. Here they can describe in more detail each of the things they feel grateful about.
* In order for it to be effective the gratitude list is not something that people do once and then forget about. It should be updated regularly – at least once a week but many people will try to add to this list daily.
* It is a good idea to buy a nice notebook for these gratitude notes. It is likely going to be something that the individual will want to cherish.
* If people are having thoughts of drinking or using drugs again they should read back on their gratitude lists as parts of their relapse prevention plan.
* Modern technology means that there are now many options for people who want to create an electronic gratitude list.
* If people are unsure about what they should feel grateful about they will find plenty of examples of gratitude lists online.