Gratitude in recovery is vital if we hope to stay clean and sober. If we take that gift for granted, it will almost certainly be taken away from us.
So, one of the first things my sponsor had me do on a regular basis was write a daily gratitude list. He told me to put down any five things I was grateful for on that day, and if I called with a problem, this was a favorite solution of his. As he said, it is hard to be fearful or angry while you’re grateful.
Recent studies show that there is a very clear advantage to gratitude. It encourages us to be more generous, even when it might not seem to be in our best interests (at first glance). It helps us support those around us.
On that note, gratitude helps us preserve our own recovery. Remember that old cliché about “giving it away to keep it?” In that sense, by being grateful for the gift we received, we are more inclined to share it with others, and not only keep the gift, but improve the lives of others.
Not much of a surprise there, but remembering where we came from is a part of gratitude. It is easy to lose sight of what we have when we get mired in the problem, and if we stay in the problem too long, we lose that crucial element of hope. Lose the hope, and that bottle, needle, or what-have-you begins looking a lot more like a reasonable solution to whatever is going on in your life.
In fact, in the linked study, it is shown that gratitude is a necessary part of Fellowship as well. By being more grateful, we are more generous (in this case, with our time and experience in The Program), and that generosity links us with a larger group of people.
There is a lot to say for consistency when showing up to the same meetings, but by branching out our meetings, we also expose ourselves to a wider range of people. Those are people we can help, but also people who can help us when our time inevitably comes.
Fortunately, gratitude is only effective if we are all putting forth the same cooperation. In that sense, it should be no wonder that gratitude plays such a visible role in drug and alcohol recovery. When everyone knows his or her butt is on the line, it makes a lot of sense for the group collectively to band together and work towards the common goal, especially when the imminent threat of relapse exists.
Best of all, gratitude ultimately means a happier life for all of us as a group, and individually. And when we were in the midst of our disease, was that not what we were looking for the entire time?
Gratitude and You
What is your take? What role does gratitude play in your recovery? Let us know in the comments section!