Research on gratitude in recent years has found many different ways gratitude improves your life. Gratitude can make you happier, improve your relationships, reduce depression and suicidal thoughts, improve your sleep, and improve your overall physical health. Gratitude can be a huge asset in overcoming the physical, mental, and emotional challenges of addiction recovery. However, when you’re just starting recovery or maybe just thinking about getting sober, you’re probably not overflowing with gratitude. Your life might feel pretty bad and you may not see much to be grateful for. If that’s the case, here are two ways you can increase feelings of gratitude in your life and reap the benefits.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
The first way to increase your feelings of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal. This is extremely simple; you just periodically write down two or three things you’re grateful for. In one study, psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough divided participants into three groups. One group was asked to write about a few incidents from the week that had annoyed them, one group was asked to write about things they were grateful for that week, and the third was just asked to write about important incidents from the past week, whether good or bad. They kept this up for 10 weeks. It turned out that the participants who wrote about things they were grateful for felt more optimistic and better about their lives by the end of the study. Not only that, but they also reported exercising more and making fewer visits to the doctor than the group that had written about things that annoyed them.
Start your gratitude journal by writing down two or three things every day that you feel grateful for. Quality is more important than quantity. After about two weeks, you might want to switch to writing once a week. Another study by Emmons showed that two weeks of writing once a week was too little to have much effect, so it’s important to stick with it for a while.
Write a Gratitude Letter
The second way to increase feelings of gratitude is to write an occasional gratitude letter. Positive psychology pioneer Martin Seligman found this to be the most effective way to increase gratitude. The idea is that you write a letter thanking someone for something they did for you. Describe what they did and what it meant to you, and then you can deliver it if you want to. Seligman’s studies found that writing a gratitude letter increases feelings of happiness for a month. Another study found writing a gratitude letter increases your happiness even if you don’t deliver it. That study also found that writing a gratitude letter reduced feelings of depression and anxiety in people seeking help for mental health issues.
Tree House Recovery of Orange County, California is a premiere men’s addiction treatment facility that uses eight different modalities to help our men become the best versions of themselves they can be. We teach our men that every day of their journey is something to celebrate and that recovery isn’t a sprint– it’s a marathon.
To get started with Tree House Recovery, call us today at (855) 202-2138