Author: Justin Mckibben
Being the month of THANKSgiving, not to mention the month of Veterans Day to show appreciation for the armed forces, it should come as no surprise that November is recognized by many as National Gratitude Month.
But we know that true gratitude is more than saying “thank you” for what others may do or the things we are fortunate enough to have. Gratitude gives us the ability to look past the negative parts of our situation, our lives or the world we live in and focus on appreciating all the good that we do have. Practicing daily gratitude allows us to create a more profound understanding and connection with ourselves, our loved ones and the world around us. Gratitude creates compassion and empathy; it helps us to be more involved and more self-aware.
But this writer believes that true gratitude takes action. So this month, in observance of National Gratitude Month, I encourage people to take action to share that gratitude with others.
The Practice of Being Grateful
Back in 2015, November was officially proclaimed National Gratitude Month throughout the US and Canada by National Day Calendar. The initial announcement for the observance comes from Stacey Grewal, an author, spiritual mentor and coach who advocated for the proclamation. Grewal stated,
“Gratitude is an essential ingredient of a happy, fulfilling life,”
Grewal herself has been proclaimed a “gratitude guru” who wrote the book Gratitude and Goals.
10 years ago in 2007, Robert Emmons began researching gratitude and found that expressing gratitude improves mental, physical and relational well-being. Practicing gratitude also impacts the overall experience of happiness. All this is typically not a momentary improvement. Many of these benefits turn out to be long-lasting.
Benefits of Gratitude
- Improved physical, emotional, and social well-being
- Greater optimism and happiness
- Improved feelings of connection in times of loss or crisis
- Increased self-esteem
- Amplified energy levels
- Strengthened heart
- Improved immune system
- Decreased blood pressure
- Improved emotional and academic intelligence
- Extended aptitude for forgiveness
- Decreased stress, anxiety, depression
- Reduced headaches
- Improved self-care and greater likelihood to exercise
- Heightened sense of spirituality
There are even a number of events and activities to get involved with this month, including the 30 Day Gratitude Challenge where one can sign up for a daily email that suggests opportunities to practice gratitude in new and interesting ways.
But you don’t have to commit to any event or challenge to help promote gratitude.
Giving with Gratitude
Looking at the definition of gratitude on the all-knowing Google, we find it as:
“The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
Right there we see the inclusion of the concept that gratitude means to at least be willing to take some kind of action, i.e. showing appreciation and returning the kindness.
The way I express my understanding of gratitude is like this:
- If I am grateful for my job, I show up and work hard
- If I am grateful for my home, I respect it and honor it, along with anyone who may live there
- Being grateful for those who have helped me, I help whoever I can when I can
My expression of gratitude means making every attempt possible to ensure I do not take the gifts I have for granted. We should not neglect the things or the people we have in our lives as if we know they will always be there. When we become complacent, our gratitude might slip away.
Recovery from addiction gives us so much more to do with that gratitude.
Grateful for Recovery
In recovery from drugs or alcohol, it can be especially important for many of us to stay grateful. In the recovery community, we hear people all the time talking about how grateful they are to be alive, or how grateful they are to have another chance at life or a fellowship of support in recovery. All of this is so important, but again it takes action.
If we are grateful for the opportunity to get better, we should not squander it with defiance and neglect.
If we are grateful to be alive, we should focus on living better lives and doing something meaning with our lives; even if to you that simply means being a better parent/spouse/child/sibling in your family.
Being grateful reminds us of the kindness of others and the strength that they gave us to get ourselves out of addiction. So we should live by example and help those who still need help, recovering or not. With all the benefits of gratitude we’ve mentioned, it only makes sense that someone in recovery from addiction would want to take advantage of National Gratitude Month as an excuse to exercise that part of themselves. Treating others as if you are already grateful for the opportunity is training for the mind, body, and spirit. For those working to overcome addiction, gratitude can be a
Share the Love for National Gratitude Month
If you want to get involved, it is pretty easy. Just be grateful every chance you get.
In the world, as it is right now we could use more love and gratitude. With so much going on in such divisive times, like the opioid crisis and overdose outbreak tearing apart so many lives, we should take every chance to bring our communities together.
Or if you want to help share the love and raise awareness, share this article with your friends and use #NationalGratitudeMonth on social media posts.
Have an amazing November! Remember to be grateful and to show that appreciation and kindness with action and goodwill toward others!
It’s been said that healing can come from the places you least expect it. Make sure to appreciate the opportunity. For those who are looking for something to be grateful for, it starts with the fact you are still here. If you are suffering or lost, maybe its time for a new foundation. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
By Cheryl Steinberg
Woke up on the wrong side of the bed? Having one of those days that’s bad before it even starts? When you decide you’re having a bad day, the first thing to do is to un-decide that. Otherwise, it’ll just become a self-fulfilling prophecy. But, if you find you need a little help un-convincing yourself about just how bad your day is going, here are 16 ways to turn a bad day around.
You might be surprised at just how much you forget to breathe throughout the day. I mean, of course you are breathing, otherwise you wouldn’t be alive but, there’s a difference between taking shallow breaths (which we often do) versus deep, belly breaths. Remind yourself to breathe throughout the day, every day.
I get it, meditating is actually pretty hard. But it comes with practice – daily practice. Be gentle with yourself and just try to add a minute to your practice each time you meditate. The long-term effects on mind, body, and spirit are well worth the effort.
Again, practicing is the best way to get in the habit of praying. This one didn’t come easy to me at first and this is common to many others. Don’t beat yourself up. Just try.
#4. Treat yo’ damn self
Take yourself out to a movie or your favorite restaurant. Maybe splurge on a new clothing item – just don’t go overboard. The best way to treat yourself, though, is to do something that makes you feel good about yourself. Maybe get a manicure or go for a massage.
#5. Pet a kitten (or puppy)
There is actual science behind this. Spending time with, and petting, a lovable animal is calming and soothing. And therefore, it reduces stress levels. Plus, who wouldn’t want to spend the afternoon with a furry little bucket of love?
#6. Go to the gym
Working out releases feel good hormones called endorphins so you can actually make yourself feel good – without using a substance. Another benefit is that you can take out that rage on the treadmill or punching bag and not have to apologize – or catch an assault charge – afterwards.
#7. Take a Mental Health Day (if you haven’t missed work/school in a while)
Maybe take the day off – as long as this is not a pattern you’re already in. If you’ve been working hard and not taking any time for yourself, it might be time to have a day where you can recharge your batteries.
#8. Take a nice steamy shower, or hot bath
Ahhh yes. This is a great way to turn a bad day around. The hot water will help relieve muscle tension and relax you enough to help you clear your mind.
#9. Listen to some good tunes
If you’re like me, music speaks to your soul. When I’m feeling angry or down, putting in my headphones and listening to my favorite songs makes me feel better instantly.
#10. Give out hugs (and by default, you will be receiving them)
There’s a hormone called oxytocin, which is associated with falling in love and feeling trust towards others, and it gets released when you embrace someone.
#11. Unplug from social media
Facebook and Instagram are the worstttt when it comes to issues of self-esteem and feeling inferior. With all the humble-bragging that goes on, you see people leading these amazing lives. But, of course, what you don’t see is all the not-so-good parts – you know, the stuff that we all go through. Unplug and unwind every so often. It’ll do you good.
#12. Walk barefoot in the grass or at the beach
Getting back to nature is a great way of improving your mood and your day. Walking barefoot rather than in shoes can help you connect to the earth beneath your feet and reminds you of what really matters in life.
#13. Watch your favorite comedy
Laughter truly is the best medicine to cure anything that’s threatening to wreck your day. If you’re not in the movie-watching mood, you can find jokes online or watch silly youtube videos. Laughter is good stuff and again, boosts your mood.
#14. Help someone
When you’re having a bad day, one of the best ways to turn that around is to shift your focus from ‘self’ to ‘other.’ Helping another person will get you out of your own head and make you feel good at the same time. Another bonus is that someone else is benefitting from the situation, too.
#15. Phone (don’t text) a good friend
Talk it out. And I mean talk. Texting really is no way to truly connect with another human being. Pick up the phone and call your bestie or someone else you trust and have a nice, long conversation. It doesn’t even have to be about your bad day. Connecting with someone you care about has its own benefits. After all, humans are social beings by nature. So, even if we want to be alone – which is OK from time to time – we also crave the company of others.
#16. Make a gratitude list
Simple. Sit down and list all the things you are grateful for having in your life. You can’t be salty and grateful at the same time.
Has a bad day turned into a bad week, a bad month, year, decade? It’s never too late to turn it around. If alcohol and other drugs have become a constant in your life and you don’t know how else to cope, change is possible. Call an Addiction Specialist today at toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
By Cheryl Steinberg
When I talk to normies about being in recovery, more times than not, their first response is one of sympathy, bordering on pity. They always say things like, “I’m sorry that happened to you,” or “it must be tough,” or even, “life must be a daily struggle for you.”
Huh? *scratches head*
No, none of that is true. Well, maybe the first thing because, I can’t control how people feel. But, the myths and misconceptions behind these thoughts and statements are so far-off base.
Let me make a distinction. My life in active addiction was a struggle; an uphill battle.
My life in recovery is great. Better than my life was even before I picked up a drink or a drug. And I’m not even exaggerating.
Here’s why I’m grateful for my addiction.
First, I am one of those people who think back on all of life’s experiences – good and bad, positive and negative – and think, “These experiences are what molded me into the person I am today.” And I really like the person I am today. That being said, those years I spent in active addiction helped me to become, well, me.
Secondly, going through the things I went through – and there were some pretty messed up situations that I survived – proves to me that I am stronger than I could imagine and that helps me overcome the trials and tribulations of life, in other words, being able to deal with life on life’s terms.
Thirdly – and I kind of referred to this before, already – having gone through what I did, and then getting clean and having a solution in my life has improved my life immensely. I am grateful to at least know why I was so miserable and why I turned to drugs and alcohol as a solution.
In my daily comings and goings, while running errands or driving on the highway, I see so many miserable people who don’t have a substance abuse disorder but who don’t know why they are miserable or even really realize that they are miserable. They just go about their daily lives being angry and making everyone else they come into contact with miserable, too.
Man, I feel sorry for them.
Even though they don’t have a problem with alcohol and other drugs, these are the people who feel like they have to come home and unwind with a drink, just to relieve their stress or to somehow alter how they feel. Now, I’m not one of those recovering addicts who gets jealous that others can “use successfully.” I really don’t care. My question is, though, why would they need to have a drink or joint to “unwind?”
For me, having a solution in my life means working a program of recovery means being honest, accountable, humble, grateful, spiritual, and remaining teachable. These are the principles by which I strive to live on a daily basis. And I don’t need something external, such as a substance, to make me feel better.
Are you struggling with sobriety? Do you have a substance abuse disorder such as addiction and want to put an end to the cycle but don’t know how? Are you afraid of what recovery is? I was just like you. At first, I was in denial, when I realized I did have a problem, I didn’t know what to do and I was afraid to ask for help. I am so glad that I finally got up the courage to seek treatment, though and my life is so much better today. Call us toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist. We can answer your questions, day or night.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Is it really a selfish program? We often hear that recovery is a selfish program, and that we addicts or alcoholics need to take the time to focus on and do things for ourselves, but is this kind of thinking really the best way to recover? Personally, I can see where the idea of self-worth and self-discovery are important, and how we need to grow in our personal development in order to effectively change our lives, but I disagree with the term ‘selfish program’ because in my experience recovery is largely based off of what I’m willing to do for others.
Recovery IS Humility
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less! A huge part of recovery is humility, and that means accepting our faults and our mistakes, but also it means being grateful and appreciating others and the blessings we have in our lives, and about making the needs of others a priority in our lives because gratitude is in the actions we take to show our thanks.
Humility is not a selfish thing. We generally learn we are helping ourselves to be better people and recover from drug or alcohol addiction by respecting and loving others, and this may seem like a selfish thing because we get something out of it, but when we develop true humility when we can step outside our ego and value others.
Recovery IS Making Amends
An important step in recovery is our ability to take an inventory, admit our wrongs, and make amends. In this respect we obtain a stronger understanding of self-worth that is primarily built up around our ability to clear away the wreckage of the past by righting our wrongs and stepping into a new light. Making those amends helps us with self-worth, but the program of recovery teaches us that it is only possible when we are truly willing to do for others.
So maybe you say you’re just setting things right with others for a selfish reason? At the end of the day you’re still contributing to the wellness or happiness of another person, and it is most effective when done genuinely and honestly. My sponsors– sponsors- sponsor always says “the action precedes the understanding” and sometimes in this case we have to take action to help others before we realize the value of doing so.
Recovery IS Doing Service
In the rooms of recovery there is plenty of volunteer work to be done. Now this opinion may vary depending on who your sponsor is, but it was made clear to me that in order to consider myself working an active 12 Step program of recovery I had to do step work, and I needed to do service work for the good of the fellowship. In my experience doing service work in any capacity in the rooms of recovery is essential to my program.
Doing service work is another way that we take the focus off of ourselves. 12 Step literature tells us that we as addicts and alcoholics are notoriously selfish, and as we change our worlds from revolving around ourselves and our substance abuse we make efforts to contribute something to the fellowship that gives us the tools and the support to do so. In doing service work we become accountable, and at the same time conscious of how we affect others. Another thing my sponsors-sponsors-sponsor says is that “lack of action affects other people” and this makes sense in this respect. So the more action we put into our recovery, the more we ultimately have the ability to help others.
Recovery IS Carrying the Message
In 12 Step fellowships we are told that our primary purpose is to stay clean/sober and to carry the message of the recovery to the alcoholic/addict who still suffers from the disease. So basically our purpose in an active program of recovery is to help ourselves by helping others, so that we can ultimately help others, who will in turn do the same and help countless others.
The way I understand it is like this: by being given the gift of my sobriety (which was only possible for the alcoholic/addict of my caliber by striving to be humble, make amends and do service) I am given the opportunity to try and show another person who struggles like I did how they can do the same. If you are in recovery, and you help others by making amends and doing service, and you teach someone that life-style and they follow it, imagine how many lives can be touched by the positive energy of just the 2 of you alone!
Now magnify that, by trying to help as many sick and suffer alcoholics and addicts you can. After all, we are told that nothing ensures lasting sobriety like intensive work with others. So the longer we work our program of active recovery, and the more people we do our best to influence in a positive way to keep ourselves growing and humble, the farther the reach of that positive and loving energy extends. How can setting into motion a chain reaction of loving and recovering energy be selfish?!
Recovery IS Separate from Self
Sobriety gives us so much, and some may say that at the end of the day we still do the positive things we do for others for the end result. The ends justify the means. I am not saying there is no hint of ‘self’ in the program, but that is because human beings, especially alcoholics and addicts, are selfish by nature. WE are selfish, RECOVERY is not. We may be taking some action initially because we want our self-worth or independence back but the actual program of recovery, the 12 Steps, the service work and the spiritual experience, these things are NOT selfish.
In the beginning our motives may be all about us. We may only be interested in focusing on how to improve our lives, and how we will change and grow. People may tell us that we cannot be concerned with how others in recovery are recovering, or we should not be focused on our families or friends and their needs. This may be true to some respect, but that is because we cannot begin to help others in a safe and effective way without first having some sobriety.
We cannot save others who struggle with sobriety, we cannot fix everything in our families, and we cannot make everyone else happy regardless of how clean and sober we are. Accepting that is important. However by working a program of action, and taking the necessary steps for recovery from addiction or alcoholism, we help those people as best we can, and in that way we help ourselves. By separating ourselves from ourselves and our selfishness. Once you have a program put your hand out to help someone because it is through sacrifice, service, and spiritual growth and principles that we can be saved from ourselves.
Sometimes it is important to focus on working on yourself, but there is a difference from self improvement and being self-absorbed. Addicts and alcoholics need to be sure to know the difference between self-worth and selfishness, and to learn that doing for others is the best way you can save yourself from yourself and your addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. Just because you want to recover for yourself does not mean it won’t mean the world to the ones you love.
The day before I came to treatment….honestly, a lot of it is a blur to me now. And that’s not just a figure of speech. I am, in all honesty, struggling with some cognitive deficits, especially when it comes to my memory. It’s a symptom of PAWS and I just have to remind myself to be patient and gentle when it comes to my rehabilitation and recovery.
I can tell you a few things I do remember, though. First of all, I was what you could call a ‘functional addict’ and, as such, was holding down quite a decent job at the time that I decided to go to treatment. I remember that the day I arrived at the rehab facility, it was a Tuesday; September 11th to be exact. So, I can tell you that the day before I came to treatment was a Monday and therefore, I was working. I knew I would be going into treatment the following day; it was planned. In fact, I was able to go to rehab because I had a job with good benefits, which covered inpatient treatment for substance abuse.
I was probably a little nervous, but also a little excited. I know, that probably sounds weird to a lot of you out there reading this but, I was so broken inside and so desperate for change that I was actually looking forward to waking up the next day and getting showered and ready. But not to go into a job I had grown to hate, with coworkers I couldn’t seem to get along with anymore. No; I was going to wake up and go somewhere safe, where I would be taken care of. Other than that, I didn’t really know what else to expect.
When I went to treatment, I was on Suboxone maintenance and had tried to taper myself off but to no avail. I was actually on a really low dose but that stuff is pretty powerful and has quite a long half-life, making it more difficult to kick than heroin, in my opinion and experience. And, in fact, a couple years prior to this, I had also tried methadone maintenance, a program I eventually quit cold turkey (never do this, its hell on earth). So, after trying to do the Suboxone thing myself, and experiencing hellish withdrawals again, I decided that this time, I was going to get professional help. I was going to go to treatment.
The day before I came to treatment, I actually went and refilled my Suboxone prescription, even though I knew I would be going into detox the next day. But, like I said, I couldn’t bear being dope sick again. Also, I had this crazy idea that, when I completed the program and returned home, I could sell the rest of the strips for a profit. I look back on that now and laugh. (My mom got rid of it all while I was in treatment, which was a good thing).
Unlike probably most people, I didn’t do the whole ‘last hurrah’ thing. In fact, I don’t think it even occurred to me. I think I was already focused on the task at hand: taking that first step of getting clean and sober and ultimately the first step in getting better and having a great life.
While in treatment, I considered checking into rehab as the single most important thing I had done in my life – and still consider it to be the best thing I have ever done for myself, to date. Don’t get me wrong, I am clear that I never want to do it again. But, I am grateful that such programs exist and I am grateful I took a leap of faith. The alternative would have been quite tragic.
If you are struggling with substance abuse or addiction or you suspect that a loved one is abusing drugs, there are programs designed to help. Going to rehab can be a scary decision to make – it certainly was for me. But, like most other things, it is a fear of the unknown that keeps people from reaching out and getting the help they need. Others fear certain consequences such as losing their job or disclosure of their treatment. The truth is that there are federal laws that protect your job as well as your privacy and right to confidentiality. Give us a call toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist around the clock. We can answer any questions you have about substance abuse, the treatment process, and your rights. Remember, addiction kills. But there is help available. Avoid tragedy and call today.