Whether or not we’re in recovery, we hear it all the time: “Be grateful for what you have.” While this admittedly overused phrase can often seem like a boiler-platitude to get us to stop complaining about our lives, there is actually a fair bit of truth to it. By recognizing the positives in our lives, it helps us recognize that there are things in life that are worth fighting to preserve, a thought that’s especially important to those in recovery that have to fight, on some level, every day of their lives. Every day presents new challenges and struggles, and remembering what we have can be not only an anchor; but also the one thing that keeps us from making ill-advised decisions.
The trouble is that sometimes that challenges can be stronger than the reminder, and without some way to always be grateful, we run the risk of cursing our lives and what we have to go through to stay clean. Many of us have been down this road before, and know that it can often lead to relapse. Part of living a full life in recovery is leveraging the tools we learned in treatment, but we also have to develop tools of our own to help us cope. One very basic tool is practicing humility and remembering how fundamentally blessed we are in the grand scheme of things.
Here are two powerful tools that may help us stay grateful as we move through the more challenging parts of our recovery:
Perspective – Whether we had a bad day at our job, had to drag ourselves to a recovery meeting or were stung by an ignorant comment we heard from a friend or family member, these things are only temporary. Rather then let them ruin our day, we can remember how fortunate we are that we have a job, family and friends to begin with and that we’ve been given a second chance at recovery. It may not seem like much at the moment, but it’s more than many have.
Empowerment – It also helps to remember that it is ultimately up to us to sustain these good things in our lives, and that we can choose to be happy. We can either feel frightened and burdened by the good things in our lives or embrace them and use them as a resource in our recovery. Our loved ones rally around us for a reason: we are vibrant, positive and fundamentally good people. If we were not worth the effort, they wouldn’t expend it.
It may seem like something people throw out there to placate us when the don’t have time or inclination to deal with our problems, but “being grateful for what we have” can provide a tremendous source of comfort when we need it most. As we move further in our recovery, and things start to get routine or even burdensome, we can help ourselves greatly by remembering what it’s all for.