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
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Some would say “good things come to those who wait,” but others would add “only what is left by those who hustle.” Our characteristics can seem like virtues or defects depending on the lens through which they are examined, or the circumstances they arise from. There are always pros and cons, even if we have to take a very close look to find them. Sometimes, even the parts about ourselves we are most unsure of can be useful. So then what would be the advantages of anxiety?
How could our fear or stressful uncertainty help us? What good can come of being anxious? Here are 4 surprising advantages of anxiety.
Doubt and double-checking
This one is all about balance, which isn’t easy for those who struggle with anxiety. While it is true that following up is time consuming, sometimes the time is worth it. Anxiety causes you to doubt, which can lead to double-checking. That feeling of something not being quite right can have us taking inventory, and sometimes this helps us catch things we may have missed.
One of the advantages of anxiety here is there will be many occasions when your double-checking proves useful. How many times have you asked someone if they were OK, and they say they are, but then it turns out they aren’t? Doubt and double-checking might help you push past that pretense and get to the heart of the matter.
Also, if you are depending on someone else to complete a task. Sometimes people forget. Perhaps people are afraid to ask for help. Sometimes they are misinformed and need course correction. While micro-managing can be irritating, double-checking may help you find a problem before it becomes a problem.
Yes, you may end up experiencing unnecessary stress and worry. It may become annoying to others that you need constant reassurance. In extreme cases you could even have unnecessary medical investigations due to health anxiety, leading to injuries caused by medical investigations or treatments.
Again, it is all about balance. Even if reassurance is a good thing, you can still have too much of a good thing.
More careful and thoughtful
Fear is often not that useful to us, but it can be. Worry stems from fear, and the greatest danger of worry is that it is more likely to lead to inaction than it is to useful action. People who worry excessively are commonly overwhelmed by their anxieties. So much so, in fact, they ultimately don’t face their worries because resistance seems futile.
However, there are times when worry can actually be productive. The advantages of anxiety often have a lot to do with the idea of insurance. Like with any form of insurance, you are creating a back-up in case something happens, and this is useful. Just like with a car and an insurance policy, your anxiety may teach you to be more careful and protective.
That goes for your own peace of mind, your property and other people.
Worry also allows us to be more thoughtful of others, because we also come to worry about their well-being. Anxiety can help us be more conscious of our actions and how it will impact others, or how others will see us as a result. It can make us more compassionate and even more giving.
Strategic worrying is the best way to utilize this anxiety. It means making an honest evaluation of whether worrying is helping you on a case by case basis. If you connect worrying and positive behaviors, then the worrying may be worth it to you. If you are only stressing yourself without taking action, it is merely wasted energy.
Prepared when things aren’t OK
This goes with the first two advantages of anxiety quite naturally. Anxious people love to rely on the idea of better safe than sorry. They have checked and double checked; they have tried to be as careful as they can. So when things are difficult, or when things go wrong, they are definitely prepared.
When things do go wrong, people with anxiety almost have the unique position of a fortune teller being vindicated. They have had time to make sure back-up plans and safety-nets in place. At the very least, they have mentally prepared themselves for that worst-case scenario. Some of us who struggle with anxiety have almost built up immunity to it.
It is not so much to say that it is good to always expect the worst, because that can lead to compromising your standards and a willingness to settle where you shouldn’t. However, knowing that you have put things in place just in case is reassuring that you’ve done all you can. Then, even if things fail you cannot say you didn’t at least do your best.
So essentially, being prepared for when things go wrong shouldn’t be an excuse to prematurely accept defeat. Instead these advantages to anxiety give you a reason to take more action.
Excited when everything is OK
On the flip-side to that last point, another of the big advantages of anxiety is when you are surprised to learn that everything is OK. As we were saying, anxiety can have you preparing for the worst and jumping to negative conclusions, but when those premonitions don’t come to fruition, it is both relieving and exciting.
You basically give yourself a little rush with that experience of relief and happiness when you learn your fears have been averted, especially if your anxieties have almost convinced you that your nightmare scenario came true. That feeling of discovering everything isn’t what is seemed can be truly uplifting. This is probably the most gratifying of the advantages of anxiety.
It is nice when our expectations of a situation are exaggerated. We find some things are easier than we expect. Sometimes, this can make us even more proud of all the work we had done leading up to that moment because we overcame our fear, while still being prepared either mentally, physically or even financially not to come out OK.
As someone who has battled with anxiety a lot in life, I can say that knowing I was ready, even when I didn’t end up needing it, was an extremely gratifying feeling.
If you have an anxiety disorder it can interfere with your life in some very big ways. If you feel like you need more support with getting it under control, please consider some form of treatment. Anxiety and other psychological disorders are common to those who also struggle with substance abuse. If you or someone you love is struggling, help is available. Palm Partners offers dual diagnosis treatment to help people with mental illness and addiction issues to heal and recover. Please, call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
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Author: Justin Mckibben
When we think of meditation and mindfulness we often have a certain image or experience in our mind. Some people think it must be a profound and extremely disciplined experience every time. Our misconceptions about what meditation really is often deter us from actively practicing it. However when we do practice, we realize the benefits of mindfulness. Regardless of how you imagine meditation should be, give yourself plenty of opportunity to try it out and see what is could be.
Here are 4 meditation tips for more mindfulness.
You’re NOT “bad” at meditation
When the concept of meditation is suggested, some people immediately assume they are “bad at it.” They allow their preconceptions of what meditation is supposed to mean tell them can’t successfully use it to find serenity. The very simplicity of meditation can itself present a challenge because the mind’s habitual nature prefers stimulation through distraction over intense focus.
It is as if you find yourself in a quiet space, sit in silence and then continuously ask yourself- “am I meditating yet?” or “Is this how I’m supposed to do it?”
The reality is meditation is not strictly limited to sitting in full-lotus with candles everywhere and yogi music playing. Meditation is about the practice of drawing awareness to the present, and some people meditate through activities or exercise.
Yoga, for example, is described by many as a moving meditation. So, don’t trouble yourself with wondering if you’re meditating ‘right’ or if you are ‘bad at it,’ because your practice is yours. The more you practice, the more it will grow into whatever you need it to be.
The goal is NOT to be “good” at meditation
Just like with the assumption that you can be ‘bad at it,’ if you approach meditation with the goal of “I want to be good at this” you’re probably going to be disappointed. There are no gold medals for meditation… at least, not that I know of. But anyone can just go buy a gold Buddha if it’s really that important to them.
Sometimes meditation can be boring. In our world on smartphones and constant connection, we rarely have to be bored anymore. Just because you get bored doesn’t mean you have to be better at meditating, it is just a thought we all feel. Recognize it, reflect and move on. Even people who have been meditating a long time can still get bored with it.
When meditation is offered to many of us in early recovery we may have this thought that once we ‘master’ meditation we will begin to see results right away. We are the type to thrive off instant gratification after all. We want it to help us get well right away, but it doesn’t always work like that. Just remember, there are no trophies for meditation… I think.
Don’t criticize your mind
We utilize the practice of meditation to set an intention and focus, but also to notice when the mind loses focus, and to see where it goes. The mind is good at wandering, but you should never criticize yourself for it. Being the witness to the wandering mind is part of the practice. If you begin to think on other things, just be aware of those things as they present themselves.
Just as a random example- If my intention in meditation is on my gratitude, and suddenly my mind has drifted off into the dynamics of my relationships with my family, I should take notice. Maybe my mind is trying to tell me how grateful I am for my family. Maybe it is telling me how gratitude brings them to mind. I acknowledge the thought and come back into focus. I should not criticize my mind for drifting off topic, or criticize the thoughts themselves.
Sometimes we beat ourselves up because the mind will take us so far from our intention we forget how we got there. We begin to feel we are ‘bad at it’ again, or that we are wasting time. Don’t let these frustrations or the nature of the wandering mind make you critical. Be present to your mediation without judgment.
Let go of the outcome of your meditation
Once we’re aware of the benefits of meditating, we might set expectation on every experience. You might trick yourself into thinking you must feel a certain way, but expectations can be down-payments on disappointments. We may expect to feel calm and relaxed; clarity and serenity, and when we don’t get the outcome we anticipate we can get frustrated.
In reality meditation will lead you to several different experiences. Sometimes the experience will change multiple times within a single session. Part of the practice is letting go of the outcome. Approach your meditation with an open heart and mind. Waiting for a specific result can also distance us from the present moment.
Again, meditation is about being aware and in tune with the present. It is not about judging our experience. Meditating to be “good at it” is like saying you watched TV for hours just to make sure the remote works. Your mind and the present are already there, meditation is just about taking the time away from your overactive or analytical mode to notice them. Don’t expect answers all the time, just be aware and listen.
Meditation can reform the mind in the most incredible ways, and it is often one of the best medicines for people in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. It can be used for mental, emotional and even physical fitness. Holistic recovery is about a lot more than removing drugs and alcohol; it is also about rewiring our thinking. If you or someone you love is struggling, find out how holistic healing can help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Sunday Funday? Hump Day Wednesday? Freaky Friday? Semantics Saturday… okay, maybe that last one isn’t a thing.
Still, the point is that we have these clever nick names and common associations with days of the week. We all hear that oh-so-clever cliché about the dreaded “case of the Mondays” and we all have our schedules to keep. But is there a day of the week that is commonly more inspiring than others?
While we can look back at examples in history it may be debatable since so many different amazing things were accomplished on different days of the week. Depending on your unique schedule there may be an alternative for you. However, some would suggest that there may actually be a more inspiring day of the week than any other.
Can you guess which day it is?
Yep, we’re talking about that frequently forgetful day with no clever name. This is a day of profound inspiration to some. It is the same day Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. It is the day Facebook was said to be created by Mr. Mark Zuckerberg. It is the day this article was written!
Thank God for Tuesday!
Now I’m sure a lot of you didn’t see that coming. Especially considering the famous reputations of Friday and Saturdays, not to mention Sundays. But as it turns out, studies have found this days to be uninspiring in comparison. A professor of psychology at the College of William and Mary named Todd Thrash became the lead researcher for a scientific study on inspiration. Almost by accident he came to this surprising conclusion. Thrash had collected a group of people to track on a daily basis:
Tuesday didn’t only barely beat out Fridays and Sundays, it demolished them in a landslide. In fact, the study suggests Tuesday is 79% more inspiring than Friday!
Some answers as to why Tuesday would win over the others may vary. However one way to look at it is Tuesday puts us in the heat of our workflow for the week and challenges us to rise to the occasion. Realization strikes and we know we have stuff to get done, so this is the day we start really laying the ground work for our week.
In essence I guess it isn’t really all that shocking. If you look at it:
- Monday- low energy as people return to work and find themselves back in the arms of monotony
- Wednesday- People are happy to remind themselves they are halfway through their week
- Thursday- Basically like “Friday’s Eve” for a lot of people
- Friday- Happiness hits as joy and freedom follow the end of the work week
- Saturday- Sleeping in and watching cartoons… (or is that just me?)
- Sunday- Sacred for many cultures, also another chance to sleep in and catch up on rest before work week begins again
We are also talking inspiration in relation to productivity. Frequently moments of stress and work inspire us to produce results. We are inspired by challenges to overcome and goals to seek out. Tuesday is a perfect time for setting goals and assessing your challenges before pushing through the week. Most Mondays are too grumpy to get that far.
How About Now?
At the end of the day, you have to inspire yourself anyway. What better time than right now? If you ask me… the most inspiring day is TODAY… (Which just so happens to be Tuesday, but you get the point)… right now! Today is the best day to be inspired! But it is up to you to seek it out and bring it into your life. Look for things to be grateful for. Really look at the world around you and recognize the beauty of it staring back at you. It is always there.
No matter what day it is; no matter what time it is… be inspired NOW!
Every day is a chance to set your mind towards change. Every day we have a chance to make a difference. We can make this the day that we give up all over again, or we can make it the day we made a choice that inspired a new life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
By Cheryl Steinberg
Considering that addiction is a chronic disease, meaning that it’s with us for life, ongoing counseling sounds like a good idea. Besides, addiction is such an insidious and tricky thing, why not pull out all the stops when it comes to building tools for recovery?
Enter recovery coaching. The use of recovery coaches is built on the current prevailing idea that addiction is a disease that those affected will be dealing with it for life and that it is a medical condition that requires treatment by primary doctors in a general medical setting, not just in rehabilitation facilities.
People like Kristoph Pydynkowski are teaching their clients to treat their addiction as they would any other long term medical condition, such as hypertension or diabetes.
“It’s just like taking insulin,” he says, “watching my diet, getting my blood work drawn, going to different appointments, walking on the treadmill — making sure I’m taking care of myself.” The overall point being that living with – and more importantly, recovering from – the disease of addiction requires a radical lifestyle overhaul. And, having someone in your corner showing you the ropes will secure an advantage, giving you a better chance of success at accomplishing that.
What Does Recovery Coaching Look Like?
Recovery Coaches such as Pydynkowski, who is part of a one year pilot program for the Gosnold group, a network of addiction treatment services on Cape Cod, lists his responsibilities to include visiting with his clients’ family members, doing leisurely activities together, such as going fishing and visiting the local coffee shop, and of course, attending 12 step fellowship meetings together. He also works with as many as 10 clients, creating a weekly recovery treatment plan for each.
Also part of the pilot program, the clients live in a sober house that requires them to attend daily 12 step meetings as well as individual counseling sessions with their recovery coach. Perhaps most importantly to people in early recovery, daily help from their recovery coach is available and in fact, it is available as often as every hour.
How Do Recovery Coaches Differ from Sponsors?
Recovery Coaches get much more involved in the lives of their clients than the typical 12 step fellowship sponsor generally does.
Pydynkowski explains that recovery coaches show clients “how to manage their emotions, how to fill out job applications, how to go to meetings, how to take care of themselves, how to go back to school.” Pydynkowski, describes his role as a “cheerleader, a beacon of hope,” is himself in recovery, having quit heroin seven years ago.
This sort of in-depth life skills coaching is essential for many recovering addicts because, simply-put, they never learned these skills. In their active addiction, they never developed the self-care skills that typical young adults do, such as learning to cook for themselves, grocery shop, do their laundry, and so on. Besides the basic life skills, learning to prepare themselves for a job , school, or career path is just as important. To the recovering addict, it’s necessary to see that there’s life after dope; that getting clean is worth it and that there’s more to sobriety than merely surviving. Recovering from addiction means thriving at life.
Recovery Coaching: Helpful Tool or Unnecessary Privilege of the Rich?
The short answer to this is that programs such as the Gosnold pilot program have actually been shown to save the state money. And it’s not a “right” that’s only reserved for the rich – those who can pay out-of-pocket for it.
In fact, states like New York and Tennessee already pay through Medicaid for ‘peer coaches’ to help treat addiction — something Massachusetts is now considering doing.
Because fewer people had to be readmitted to rehab centers, the program saved the state an estimated 37% in total outlay.
“Think about the cost/benefit,” Ray Tamasi, the director at Gosnold, says, “if at 19, you’re cycling in and out of treatment, but there’s an alternative — going back to school and living life.”
Although currently there is no plan in place, the administration under Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is ready to spend $20 million on two dozen initiatives aimed at deterring the uptick in heroin and other opiate addiction that’s occurring in the state. A report issued by a special task force has recommended that more peer support and home-based counseling is the way to go; health insurers and state Medicaid leaders have already said they will explore funding for recovery coaches.
Fifty-four young adults, ages 18 to 28, who participated in the coaching program saw an 83% decrease in admissions to rehabs during their year of intensive recovery coaching. Emergency room admissions also dropped, from 16 in the year before the program, down to just one admission during the year that the coaching was in place.
“And it may make more sense to state legislators than simply increasing the number of beds in recovery facilities,” he says, “because you can’t just keep people in beds all the time. They have to come out at some point.”
If you or someone you love is struggling with a substance abuse addiction issue, help is available. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist 24/7. We can answer your questions and share with you our resources. You are not alone.