Tag Archives: gratitude

Tag Archives: gratitude


Man building patience with himself during addiction recovery

Recovery doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, we spend a lifetime in recovery because we’re constantly learning new ways to become better. Sometimes we’re going to find ourselves taking a few steps back, however, and this can feel incredibly frustrating. The following quote stated by Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian lyricist and novelist, depicts this lesson of patience quite beautifully:

“I have seen many storms in my life. Most storms have caught me by surprise, so I had to learn very quickly to look further and understand that I am not capable of controlling the weather, to exercise the art of patience and to respect the fury of nature.”

Most of us have heard the common phrase of patience being a virtue – but how do we obtain it? When we’re flooded with rage, or anxiety, or we’re debilitated by depression, how can we practice greater patience with ourselves? Using the same metaphor as Paulo Coelho, it’s hard to simply watch the storm rise rather than trying to do something about it, but by watching the storm, we’re accepting the natural course of human emotion rather than trying to suppress it. This is much, much healthier in the end.

Here are some guidelines to practicing more patience with yourself:

  • The next time you feel intensely about something, acknowledge it while also agreeing that you’re okay. Here is an example, “I am upset and I’m also okay”. By acknowledging what feels like polar opposites, you will become much more open to the “grey” areas of life – and that’s where patience thrives.
  • Pick a day where you’ll make a conscious effort to practice patience in everything you do. Choose to be mindful and live in the present moment. You’ll notice a sincere difference between the day you practice patience versus the days when you don’t.
  • Practice delaying gratification. The next time you want to run towards a not-so-healthy coping mechanism, practice waiting and choosing something else instead.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Two people showing gratitude during recoveryGratitude is defined as, “Readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness; thankfulness.” Similar to appreciation, gratitude occurs when we affirm the goodness we’ve received in life. Robert Emmons, a leading expert on gratitude, stated in his Greater Good essay, “Why Gratitude is Good”,

“…We recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves…We acknowledge that other people – or even higher power, if you’re of a spiritual mindset – gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”

Gratitude is a powerful force for many in recovery because it’s all about understanding how lucky, blessed and/or gifted to have the support, tools and help that we’ve received along the way. When we express gratitude, we send out positive wishes to the world – because rather than expecting that we’d receive help, or assuming that we deserve all the help we’ve received, we acknowledge all of the forces that have made our currently reality possible.

12-Step Programs and Gratitude

Gratitude is a major component of 12-Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). The 12th step states,

“Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to [those with addiction], and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

Many in addiction recovery would say that by the end of their program, they likely feel thankful for their journey; it is through this gratitude that they can now become useful in others’ lives, and that’s where their guidance to others often comes into play. A 2017 study published in the journal Addiction Research & Theory assessed 184 members of 12-Step recovery programs in an effort to find out what effects gratitude had on their recovery. This is what the researchers found:

  • Higher levels of gratitude predicted greater participation in 12-Step practices, AA promises, post-traumatic growth and social support
  • The more gratitude individual members felt, the less likely they were to experience health issues and negative emotions

Overall, those who practiced gratitude reported better quality of life – but how is this? The effects of gratitude can benefit our lives in more ways than one. Not only can it strengthen our relationships with others, but it can provide us a with a load of other physical, psychological and social effects, too.

The Transformative Effects of Gratitude

Robert Emmens, the researcher aforementioned, explains that gratitude is a relationship-strengthening emotion that requires us to see how we’ve been supported. The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley explored the very powerful effects of gratitude:

Physical

  • Less aches and pains
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Strengthened immune system
  • Better sleep
  • Increased exercise

Psychological

  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • Greater alertness and vitality
  • Enhanced joy and pleasure
  • Optimism and happiness

Social

  • More helpful, generous and compassion towards others
  • Forgiveness is practiced more
  • More outgoing
  • Less loneliness and isolation

The powerful effects of gratitude often stem from recognizing that it wasn’t us – that it was something outside of ourselves – that got us to where we are today. For those in recovery, gratitude could be towards a number of people: peers in recovery, a sponsor, a therapist, healthcare team, family, friends, coworkers and more can all create a huge impact in the grand scheme of someone’s life.

Gratitude tunes us into the present moment – it grounds us and allows us to recognize how we got to the “here and now”. It also blocks negative emotions that stem from ungratefulness, such as envy, resentment and regret. If you really think about it, those emotions cannot exist alongside gratitude. When we’re grateful, we’re accepting all of the love we’ve received from another source – which could also include a higher power.

Spirituality and Gratitude

Spirituality is crucial aspect of recovery for many people, because addiction negatively affects the mind, body and the spirit. 12-Step programs and formal treatment programs alike help people strengthen their spirituality; In 2017, Forbes Magazine noted that while gratitude is a common theme around Thanksgiving, it’s an ultimate spiritual practice that can be for anytime, any day. They mentioned Deepak Chopra, an American author, public speaker and prominent leader in spirituality, who had emphasized that gratitude is recognizing the presence of the Divine in our lives. Rather than a strictly religious perspective, gratitude is a spiritual practice that is considered the “antidote” to many forms of suffering.

Start Practicing Today

There is no special occasion that needs to take place in order for gratitude to occur. We can easily reflect on the paths we’ve taken, on the conversations we’ve had with others that have inspired us, on the people who have contributed to our recovery and so much more. Gratitude places us in a position to not only recognize how far we’ve come, but to recognize and thank the people who’ve helped us get to where we need to be.

If you’ve been struggling with substance addiction, don’t wait any longer to seek the help you need.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

grateful to be soberBy definition, gratitude is, “the quality of being thankful; ready to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” When we talk about addiction, gratitude isn’t often the first on the list for discussion. Many may ask, “What is there to be thankful for?” Substances often provide us a way out – of our sorrows, our pain and our ignorance. They pull us away from what we already have, because they draw our attention elsewhere – to using. The truth is, one of the most vital components of addiction recovery is practicing gratitude and that’s because by recognizing and appreciating what we have, we can live a happier, healthier life overall.

A 2015 study conducted by researchers from around the U.S. sought to explore how gratitude played out for 23 adults in outpatient treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD). They asked these adults to complete daily gratitude exercises that asked them to write down “Three Good Things” about their lives. Many participants completed the study and while some found this difficult to do on a daily basis, the process overall held a significant effect on the perceptions and temperament. More and more participants started to feel calmer, more at ease and the researchers concluded that this type of gratitude exercise was truly beneficial to their recovery.

If you get the chance, try out this exercise. What can you come up with? For many in addiction recovery, gratitude looks something like this:

  • Having another opportunity to get one’s life back
  • Developing a stronger connection with a Higher Power who loves you
  • Being able to rely on people from support groups or recovery programs
  • Sobriety and all of the wonderful benefits that come with it
  • And more

Gratitude is for anyone and everyone. It’s a spiritual practice, and it connects us to what truly brings us joy in life. Start incorporating more gratitude into your life today.


Cool Springs Treatment is a 12-Step based outpatient alcohol and drug rehabilitation program. Designed for individuals 18 and older, we strive for individualized, quality treatment to meet each person’s unique needs. Our outpatient program gives you just enough structure to really keep a firm grip on your recovery, while still allowing you the time to follow through with outside responsibilities such as family, school or work.

Call us today at 615-356-2700 to get more information on seeking the help you need.

The Holidays

When I went into treatment on Monday, December 18th over thirty-five years ago, I thought my life was over. It was like the very thing that I’d been trying to outrun all of my life, finally came crashing in.

It being during the holidays, it seemed like the worst consequence that could have ever happened.   I had been working in a department store in Los Angeles and everything around me was festive and holiday-like. Everything was red and poinsettias. Unfortunately, I couldn’t feel a thing. Emotions were beyond me.

Now I am sitting in a hospital with a totaled car, a pending divorce and virtually no hope for a job. Christmas and New Years are rapidly approaching.

At first I was resistant and fought everything and everybody. I stayed angry and afraid.   I racked my brain trying to figure out what they wanted me to do. (Note. Not what I needed to do, but what they wanted me to do. Big difference.)   Christmas approached and like everything in my life, I went into denial. (“It’s not a big deal!”) It was a big deal.

During this period I finally came to the conclusion I was where I was supposed to be, and, even though I didn’t believe them, I would try to follow their instructions. But during a particularly contentious group session I threw a fit and ran out of the room. I ran to a window and reared back my fist to break the window. Instead I turned around ran back into the group room and began to shout, “you’re not gonna stop me from not stop drinking.” I fell to my knee  and began to cry like a baby.   It felt like a fifty pound weight had been taken off my back. For the first time in years, I did not feel pain or shame.   It was the spiritual experience like Bill W. spoke about in his personal story in the Big Book. The scales from my eyes fell away.  No hurt, no pain, no regrets. Perfect peace.

I remember looking out the surrounding picture windows in the group room that overlooked LA Harbor and the island of Catalina.   It was beautiful. I saw and felt for the first time since I was a child.

I didn’t even notice it was New Year’s Eve. Later that night I went into the darkened group room with the picture windows. I watched a spectacular fireworks display over the harbor.   I saw and felt the beauty of the moment. I was totally present and at peace in the world.   The next day my family visited and I saw them in a new light. I really felt their love.

The time spent in the treatment center changed my world.   It was the most wonderful gift I have ever been given.   Today I enjoy the holiday season with my wife and children and my friends and family.   I know that not one drink or drug will ever give me the peace that my Higher Power bestows on me.

Have a wonderful holiday.


Feel free to tell us about how your sobriety has changed your holiday experience and what you no longer take for granted during this season.


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