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National Gratitude Month: Use November for Improving Recovery

 National Gratitude Month: Use November for Improving Recovery

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

Gratitude: Spiritual Medicine for the Heart

Gratitude: Spiritual Medicine for the Heart

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

Today I am grateful for so much, and there is so much enriching my life I can’t explain or justify. Too often do we forget to appreciate the gifts we have every second of every day, like our own pulse… our own heartbeat.

Having appreciation in our hearts goes a long way, especially those of us in recovery. Being grateful is essential to staying aligned with our interpersonal connections and our compassion. Gratitude reminds us where we come from, what we have accomplished, and how others have nurtured us in that process.

Now it seems it can be healing at our core, from where all love and emotion starts… in the heart.

According to research published by the American Psychological Association acknowledging the beauty and the fulfilling aspects of life can result in improved mental health, and also ultimately physical health in patients with asymptomatic heart failure.

This brings one to speculate that if those who have suffered severe heart failure can see such impressive results in their recovery, what does that mean for the rest of us?

Is gratitude in our lives a key element to a happy and healthier heart?

Gratitude and Spirituality

Paul J. Mills, PhD, is a professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California, San Diego. Mills was the lead author on a study published in the journal Spirituality in Clinical Practice.

In this study Mills defined gratitude as part of a broader outlook on life, with elements described as:

  • Noticing and appreciating the positive parts of our life
  • It’s often credited to an external source (e.g., a pet), another person or a non-human (e.g., God)
  • Also a commonly an aspect of spirituality

Past studies have shown people who considered themselves to be more spiritual actually had greater overall well-being, including physical health. So taking that into account Mills and his colleagues set out to examine the role of both spirituality and gratitude as potential health markers in patients recovering from heart failure. In relation to his work Mills stated,

“We found that more gratitude in these patients was associated with better mood, better sleep, less fatigue and lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers related to cardiac health,”

Study of Stage B

186 men and women were included in the study. Each of them had been diagnosed with asymptomatic (Stage B) heart failure for at least three months.

Stage B includes:

  • Patients who have developed structural heart disease (e.g., have had a heart attack that damaged the heart)
  • Do not show symptoms of heart failure (e.g., shortness of breath or fatigue)

According to Mills this stage is an important period for therapy in hopes of blocking the disease progression because patients are at a high risk of progressing to symptomatic (Stage C) heart failure, so improving quality of life is paramount.

Researchers created scores for gratitude and spiritual well-being with standard psychological tests then compared those scores with the patients’ scores for:

Higher gratitude scores were associated with better mood, higher quality sleep, more self-efficacy and less inflammation.

Gratitude Lists

The researchers then asked some of the patients to write down three things for which they were thankful most days of the week, which they continued for 8 weeks.

Yeah, they had them write gratitude lists… in case it sounded familiar.

According to Mills, patients who kept gratitude journals for those weeks showed amazing points of improvement, including:

  • Reductions in circulating levels of several important inflammatory biomarkers
  • Increase in heart rate variability (considered a measure of reduced cardiac risk) while they wrote their lists

What is the point of all this? Well I personally think it’s pretty amazing the idea that science may support the notion that gratitude is its own medicine for the organ that pumps the blood of life through our bodies. That our emotional muscle can be flexed to the point it takes better care of itself.

The theory our gratitude has the potential to impact our health at the heart of it all is awesome!

Being thankful and acting on that can actually make us healthier, and for many drug addicts the extra help goes a long way with the damage we have done to our bodies with alcohol and other substances. Not to mention how important gratitude becomes in a lot of our everyday lives in recovery.

Something about two birds and a stone…

The concept of healing through gratitude isn’t new, and holistic healing is all about working on the inside and out, integrating it all to get the most out of the process. Letting mental, physical and spiritual health be a part of each other can make all the difference, and being grateful for your life can help you save it.

Healing can come from the places you least expect it, and help can come in all forms when we are willing to accept it. Drugs and alcohol do real damage to our bodies and our lives, but there are people who want to help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

8 Things That Will Totally Change Your Perspective

8 Things That Will Totally Change Your Perspective

It is said your perception is your reality. The easiest way to change your reality is to change your perspective. Once we change the way we view the world, and the way we see everything in it, we have a true freedom to change our lives and what every moment in it means to us. There is an endless variety of avenues you can use to change your perspective. If you are ready to let go of the old beliefs, the old fears, and the definitions you’ve attached to the elements of your life then here are 8 things that will totally change your perspective.

  1. You must take credit for your part in your resentments

Shifting the blame to others is easy, but it is not conducive to growth. Taking responsibility to the ways you affect others and how those actions result in your resentments is central to letting go of that grudge. If you are going to truly forgive someone else, you need to see you own imperfections and accept the issue between you as a difference in perspective.

  1. The Drug or Drink is NOT the problem

Consider that a drink or drug for an addict or alcoholic is not the real problem, but a symptom of an illness can truly change the way you think about your recovery. Looking at the drink or the drug as major factor is not incorrect, but we also should try considering that the reason we drink or get high has to do with emptiness inside or a negative and destructive perspective we have adopted as fact.

  1. Fear of change can trap you in the worst ways

Being afraid of change can hold us back from full recovery. If we are too afraid to move forward, we run the risk of trapping ourselves in a stagnant situation. We have to welcome change as a necessary part of life in recovery. If we get too comfortable in what is easy, we never reach out and achieve more, and risk falling back into our old ideas of ‘normal’.

  1. Courage is being afraid, but acting anyway

It is OK to be afraid. True courage has nothing to do with not having fear. True courage is having that fear and taking action anyway, regardless of possible outcomes, for hope of a triumph. Having faith in the future takes the sting out of a fear, and taking a leap of faith is bravery in motion.

  1. Being thankful is a thought, gratitude is taking action

Being thankful is important, and being grateful is taking that feeling and putting it to use. To be truly grateful is to show appreciation by returning the favor. You can spread that gratitude by being respectful to those who do things for you with no thought of themselves, or doing something for someone else to pass on that good energy.

  1. Your pain is a gift

Anything that happens to us only holds the value we give it. Our trials and tribulations only carry the meaning that we attach to them. By looking at our obstacles as opportunities to grow, give, or learn we empower ourselves and not our pain. We are not defined by our mistakes or misfortune, but by what we do with the experience.

  1. Someone else is happy with less than what you have

When we start to feel sorry for ourselves, or we start to not appreciate the things we do have, it is helpful to remember that somewhere out there someone has much less than you and they are happy with it. Ambition is healthy, but greed or jealousies are poison when we cannot be grateful.

  1. All you need is love

As people we all have an inherent need for love. No one person is worthy of love, and in the end that is the only thing we really want. Every action someone else takes is not designed to hurt you or be better than, it is just a strategy designed to seek love, subconscious or consciously.

  1. Every moment is beautiful

Take a second to look around you and notice the incredible elements of the’ mundane’. The things we take for granted are amazing in themselves if we take the time to really think about them. Like a cell-phone that can find you on a map from outer-space and send coded messages and images through thin air in real time. Like a star that illuminates our sky and feeds our planet with rays of energy, giving life from years away. Or even a human being that understands us for who we are and who loves us unconditionally anyway.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse and addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 

How to Keep an Attitude of Gratitude

 

Gratitude is one of the most powerful paths to happiness there is. Look for things to be grateful for and you’ll become intoxicated with a wonderful feeling that puts life and the world into perspective.

Although keeping an attitude of gratitude is easier said than done sometimes especially living in the crazy world we live in today. There is a slew of negativity out there that can make it extremely hard to keep an attitude of gratitude. There are wars, people dying, people starving, sickness etc. and it’s easier to get caught up in the negative bullshit than it is to focus on what we have.

So on this day, funnily enough, Thanksgiving. I am going to tell you how to keep an attitude of gratitude and it may be a bit easier than you think.

While this may sound counterproductive and it may seem like it is not really going to work, trust me it will. Focus on how your life could be worse and you can keep an attitude of gratitude. You have it better than most people and I guarantee that by just showing you the facts or by just simply telling you that

  1. You are alive
  2. You have eaten today
  3. You probably have money in your bank account and change laying around your house
  4. You are on a computer reading this
  5. You most likely have shelter if you have all of the above

You will begin to feel more grateful.

Looking at how much worse your life could be really allows you to see how good you have it because if you think about those 5 things that I just listed, well, a lot of people in the world, actually quite a few of them, don’t even have that. There are people who have died, there are people who won’t eat today, there are people who don’t have bank accounts and would work an 8 hour day for a quarter, some people have never seen a computer, and definitely do not have shelter. You could be one of those people and your situation could be a lot worse and were just looking at basics here. Take what your life actually looks like and compare it to how bad it could be and well there you have it, gratitude.

An attitude of gratitude is not as hard as we make it out to be. I get it though, it can be hard to always remember to think of what you do have rather than what you don’t but the truth is if you have so much more than what most people do when you truly look at in the grand scheme of things.

If you are still struggling with an attitude of gratitude practice writing a gratitude list everyday with at least 5 to 10 things on it. Oh and if you are still struggling let me share these stats with you:

  • If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of the world.
  • If you have money in the bank, your wallet and some spare change you are among the top 8% of the worlds wealthy.
  • If you woke up this morning with more health than illness you are more blessed than the million people who will not survive this week.
  • If you have never experience the danger of battle; the agony of torture, or the horrible pains of starvation you are luckier than 500 million people alive and suffering.

And…If you can read this blog you are more fortunate than 3 billion people in the world who cannot read at all.

If your loved one is in need of drug or alcohol addiction treatment please give us a call at 800-951-6135.

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