The importance of gratitude
The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate – Oprah Winfrey
The gratitude journal
Early on in my journey to quit alcohol I started a gratitude journal. If you are thinking it’s a whole lot of Byron Bay hippie BS, it’s really not. I am a firm believer that this is an essential part of success in kicking the binge.
If you are struggling with depression and self-esteem issues, gratitude helps to solidify your decisions. When you feel grateful for your body, your surroundings, your family you start to realise, why would I want to damage this?
Quitting alcohol can at times feel like a walk in the park and other times it can feel like a real struggle. Gratitude helps build a strong foundation so that you can cope when the going gets tough. It’s so easy to slip in to negative patterns and ways of thinking.
We are surrounded my negativity in the news, other people, our own minds. When you are in a negative pattern you are stuck in that dream world of storytelling. Gratitude snaps you back to reality. It snaps you back to what is good.
While a gratitude practise may seem like a futile exercise initially, I guarantee that stopping and noting even the smallest things can make a huge difference, as Tony Robbins says “where focus goes energy flows”. Keep your energy focused on what is good in your life.
What should I be grateful for?
When you feel there is nothing to be grateful for, get down to the most basic things. The air in your lungs, a roof over your head, food in your belly.
When you stop to think about it, these really obvious and basic things are the most important things in our life, our survival depends on it and we can so often take them for granted. In doing so we do ourselves a huge disservice and are often blind to the everyday miracles around us.
You can feel and express gratitude in many different ways. You can apply it to the past (remembering positive and happy memories), the present (not taking your current circumstances for granted), and the future (maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude).
Regardless of the current level of your gratitude, it's a quality that you can successfully cultivate further. Unlike drinking the more of it you do the better you feel.
In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
Research has shown that taking time to be thankful has benefits for well-being. Gratitude not only goes along with more optimism, less anxiety and depression, and greater goal attainment, but also is associated with fewer symptoms of illness and has other physical benefits.
A strong mindset
If your mindset is strong, grateful and positive you can deal with those little things that might throw you off track. Above all else, make a list every single day of what you are grateful for and after a month you will have changed your default mode of thinking. Think how long you may have been in patterns of non-gratitude and how the negative impact that has had on your life.
Every day, think as you wake up: Today I am fortunate to have woken up. I am alive. I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it. – His Holiness The Dalai Lama
A daily journal and spending two minutes a day reflecting on happy thoughts and what you are grateful for can lower your pain, greatly improve your happiness (and help you stay there), kick addictions and completely transform you.
I don’t believe in waiting for great feelings. I need to wire myself for positivity and gratitude. I need to build a highway to those. – Tony Robbins
Make gratitude part of your day
So grab a notebook and make a start today. Make gratitude part of your new daily habits. When you get up in the morning think how grateful you are to be, well… awake. At night reflect on your day and give yourself a pat on the back for not tucking in to a bottle of wine.
Give yourself a big high five and huge hug. Thank yourself and take the time to reflect on your own awesomeness. Be grateful for your sobriety and for getting through another day and how each day gets easier and each day you get more and more confident and back in control.