Your thought process may be one of, "Why should I be grateful that I have a court date?” Or, "Do you seriously expect me to pretend to be happy about losing my spouse?" “I can’t do what he is asking me, I am too scared to give that presentation. I will fail.” The answer as we face life’s challenges and/or pain, in short: gratitude is not about giddy optimism or proud moments of surviving circumstances. As we accept life’s events, we do not have to approve of them. In fact, if we keep our self-care routines in place then when that life altering or intimidating event occurs, we are able to take it in, marinate in what really just occurred, process it in the stages of grief or take gentle intentional action, whichever applies.
According to studies, people who express gratitude on a daily basis have more good feelings, feel more alive, and display more compassion and generosity towards others. When you begin to be grateful for what you have, your viewpoint shifts, your energy shifts, and the results improve in some way. Gentle intentional action is the opposite of denial or survival. In both grief or gentle intentional action, we choose to be present to the feeling and present to what the moment requires. Gratitude is not about heroism or having a bronze toughened exterior. No question the event is hard, undesirable, awful even. But, these are the moments when gratitude can save our butt.
Stop fighting the process
Can you accept where you are in your life? It can be done if you will stop contending with it.
Change your fortitude
One of the best aspects of recovery and facing loss or setbacks headon is that it can give you an opportunity to change your mindset. Many people think the world is out to get them or that they are not worthy of living the life because things have not gone the way they want. This mentality can be changed with the recovery tools and skills offered to you in treatment. And the place we go from here is up, we look up and that helps determine where our feet go. We tend to want to lay down and sulk when losses stack up. Gratitude for the little things is what gets us through in these times. Gratitude for clean water, for clothes to wear, for someone who looked you in the eyes and acknowledged your human existence, for a toilet to use, for a food pantry nearby.
Feeling emotions is a gift and a responsibility. We do not get to pick which ones to feel. As we go through life, many times we will not feel grateful. But, we can choose to be grateful. Gratitude is the act of taking an inventory of the present moment: physical, mental, emotional, social, environment, academic, professional, spiritual. A gratitude inventory is a treasure hunt for what is, not for whether we feel grateful. We can be in a gratitude treasure hunt and feel angry, alone and despairing. Please do not picture a field of tulips when we talk about gratitude. We are as real as it gets here. Gratitude is acknowledging facts, not feelings. Feelings can coexist with positive circumstances. For example, you can feel anxious and regretful about how you behaved last night but in the same moment be grateful that you started a new day with prayer, movement and two 12 oz glasses of water. Now, you can get to action to face those feelings from last night if you need to make something right with a person or to consider what you will do differently next time. Emotions are feedback in our body and mind and they matter. But, gratitude is there too and it is a 100 / 100 relationship. They both matter equally.
What are the benefits of gratitude?
- Increased feelings of happiness: Being grateful helps you feel good, and it's a simple way to obtain a natural high from the feel good hormones naturally occurring in our body. But thankfulness isn't just about you; it's a two-way street. Our brains release happy chemicals like dopamine and serotonin when we express and receive gratitude, giving us a surge of euphoria.
- Improved work experience. Did you know? Gratitude is the precursor to creativity. When we inventory what we do have to work with, we make the most of it and make things happen. Ruminating on what isn’t right or good only deepens the chance to self-medicate or create a life of distraction. Look with curious eyes and the creativity and performance come next!
- Deeper interpersonal relationships: Adopting a grateful attitude may help you create and improve relationships with people, in addition to making you feel good. It's easy to take those close to you for granted, but remembering to thank your loved ones may make a huge difference in your relationships. It works in two ways: remembering to be thankful makes us appreciate our relationships, family, and friends, while also starting a gratitude cycle. The more we show our gratitude, the more likely it is that we will get it.
- Increased resiliency: Gratitude transforms your perspective on life. It enables you to flourish under pressure, make the best of adverse conditions, and find the silver lining in an otherwise bleak day. With patience, you can train your brain to focus on the positives rather than the negatives, giving you the courage to face any challenge.
- Lowered levels of anxiety and depression: If gratitude may make you happier, it comes to the reason that it can help with mental health issues as well. If you're suffering from anxiety or depression, it's conceivable that cultivating a grateful attitude and concentrating on the positives will help you get better. Gratitude practice minimizes the synthesis of stress hormones while also boosting the development of happy hormones such as dopamine and serotonin.
- Improved physical health: People who show thankfulness on a daily basis have been scientifically demonstrated to have superior physical health. Reduced discomfort, better sleep, less worry, and more energy are all possible with a grateful mindset. People who concentrate on the good aspects of life are more calm and happier than those who do not.
Gratitude in recovery
Pacific Solstice recognizes the powerful impact of appreciation in our daily lives, particularly in recovery from any mental illness or addiction. If you'd like to learn more about how we assist our patients in being more appreciative throughout their recovery, please text or call us at (949) 200-7929. To help us get to know you better, you may also take this brief assessment and verify your insurance.