Why Be Grateful?
Today we know that an attitude of gratitude has many benefits, including improving psychological health and sleep, reducing toxic emotions, increasing happiness, reducing depression, and raising self-esteem. In our groups in the treatment center, we start by rehearsing several things for which we are grateful. It’s easy to hit the low-hanging fruit, such as being thankful for socks, coffee, and ice cream, but it is more meaningful to appreciate people who have helped you in your recovery. Many of our clients appreciate this practice and take it with them even after treatment ends. It has value far beyond what most people would ever imagine.
It’s a Mood–Booster.
Social scientist Robert Emmons developed a 21-day program for increasing thankfulness in his book, Gratitude Works! A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity. It involves keeping a gratitude journal, writing gratitude letters to kind people and sharing those letters in a face-to-face meeting to express thanks. People who went through the program said they felt more optimistic, more connected to others and described better moods. Taking note of everyday thoughtfulness boosts relationships.
It Enables You to Bounce Back From Life’s Setbacks.
Studies of women undergoing treatment for breast cancer and of veterans who have suffered post-traumatic stress show that keeping gratitude journals helped them get through difficult times more quickly. The term psychologists use is “resilience.” It means the ability to bounce back. People who are more resilient take the worst that life has to throw at them without allowing themselves to be defined by their setback. Optimism, forgiveness and gratitude are all useful tools for building resilience.
It’s a Depression Fighter.
One study found that the simple act of writing down three things that made participants feel grateful was as effective at increasing a sense of well-being as spending an hour in therapy. Another study found that suicidal inpatients assigned to gratitude exercises showed clinically significant therapeutic improvement.
It Helps You Achieve Your Goals.
Study participants who kept gratitude lists over two months were more likely to report completion of key goals. Grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress.
Living with gratitude helps your recovery go beyond behavior and into deep life change. It affects your mood positively and offers encouragement along the journey.
Recovery is a Journey. Enjoy the Ride!