When you’re recovering from addiction, your attitude matters a lot. Many people enter treatment at a low point in their lives. For whatever reason, they have finally reached a point where their substance use is unsustainable and something has to change. They may be dealing with a load of problems including wrecked relationships, career issues, health problems, or legal problems. In the midst of this mess, it may seem strange to advocate gratitude, but cultivating feelings of gratitude may be one of the best things you can do for your recovery. Here’s why.
Gratitude improves relationships.
Perhaps the central benefit of gratitude is that it helps improve relationships. This may actually be the primary mechanism for other benefits, including resilience, happiness, and self-esteem. There are a number of ways gratitude improves relationships. One important one seems to be that gratitude helps us identify people who respond to our needs and expressing our gratitude makes those relationships closer. One study examined sorority sisters during a week of gift-giving. [https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2008-06717-013] Sisters who were most grateful felt closer to the giver. This is an important lesson for people recovering from addiction. Expressing gratitude facilitates connections within your sober network, creating a strong base for recovery.
Gratitude improves resilience.
Several studies have found that people who are more grateful are less prone to depression and PTSD. One study of Vietnam War combat veterans found that those with a higher level of dispositional gratitude had lower levels of PTSD. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16389060] Veterans who developed PTSD were also found to have lower levels of gratitude. Dispositional gratitude predicted better mood, more pleasant days, more internal motivation, and better self-esteem, which can buffer against negative and even traumatic experiences.
Gratitude improves self-esteem.
It may not seem obvious, but gratitude for others actually improves your self-esteem. This is especially important for people starting out addiction recovery because their self-esteem can often use some rebuilding. Many studies support the link between feeling more grateful and feeling better about yourself. Several studies suggest that gratitude improves self-esteem by increasing social support. One study of more than 400 college students in China found that social support was the crucial link between more gratitude and more life satisfaction. [https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10902-014-9519-2] Basically, gratitude improves your relationships and when you’re surrounded by supportive people, you feel better about yourself.
Gratitude makes you happier.
Finally, gratitude makes you happier. One way this appears to happen is by improving your relationships, as noted above. People who feel socially connected tend to feel happier. Another way gratitude makes you happier is by changing your focus from what’s wrong in your life to what’s good. Everyone has some mix of good and bad, but if you’re always focused on the bad, you’re going to feel unhappy most of the time. When you feel grateful for the positive things, you feel happier.
At Fort, we offer a safe, nurturing, and healing space for men and women to find recovery from the multifaceted disease of addiction. Our team believes in inspiring each client to face their challenges, discover the root of their problems, and reclaim their lives. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call us today at 817-381-9741 or contact us through our admissions page.