It might sound like some sort of new age practice or a way to avoid your problems, but practicing gratitude is actually much more than this. It’s a practice of opening the heart, seeing what you might not have taken notice of before, and building more and more appreciation for what you have.

One of the greatest challenges of addiction is the negativity within it. There is so much destruction of one’s life as well as the lives of others that things come crumbling down. Relationships, careers, marriages, and families fall apart because of a strong focus on drinking and drug use.

Yet, in recovery, once you’ve made the decision to change your life, you can facilitate that by beginning to change your thoughts. And one easy way to do that is to create a list of the things you’re grateful for. What’s wonderful about creating a gratitude list is that it immediately changes your point of view as well as your thought patterns. If you’re used to thinking that your life doesn’t have meaning, that there’s little to live for, or that recovery is going to be impossible, know that you can start to change those thoughts. Imagine realizing how grateful you are for:

–your children
–a bed to sleep in
–a place to call home
–the air to breathe
–a chance to start over
–the outdoors
–the fact that you woke up this morning
–family and/or friends
–free time
–modern technology
–your health
–a job

Whatever it is that you feel grateful for, make a list. Notice whether or not your thinking and feelings change after you’ve written down a few things. You might start to feel the wonder of being alive! You might begin to experience the magic of purpose and passion in your life.

Here are a few ways to help you practice gratitude often:

–When you experience negativity, see if you can find something positive in return. For instance, let’s say you notice how poorly the organization you work for has been running. You can switch your attention to the great accomplishments it’s had in the last few years.
–Begin to see your entire life from a place of gratitude. Perhaps you might be struck with wonder and all that we tend to take for granted.
–Make a commitment to yourself that you will not criticize, gossip, or complain for a period of two weeks. Try to notice how easy it is to go into negativity versus staying positive.
–Tell someone once a day what you see in him or her that you are grateful for.
–When you are in a challenging situation, try to see the positive in it. Look for what it is you can learn from it.
–Visit and post what you’re grateful for.
–Look for Gratitude Journal apps for your Iphone and Android – they’re out there!
–Have a gratitude journal yourself for a year and make notes on how your perspective and thinking changes over that year.

What’s wonderful about gratitude lists is that you can be thankful for the smallest things – an orange, the way the light shines, the fact that your heater works, a smile, a prophetic dream. The list goes on and on.

If you choose to be grateful for an entire year, imagine what your life will look like! Imagine all the positive people, places, and things you’ll notice and appreciate. Imagine how you’ll love your life at the end of just one year!

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