BLOG | 5 ways to maintain a grateful mindset

Whether you’re someone who battled addiction, a family member, or a friend, we have all struggled with developing a grateful mindset. It’s human nature. However, discovering and maintaining that mindset could be the key to long-term success on life’s journeys.

Finding gratitude for an individual in recovery means being thankful and actively going out of your way to show appreciation for past struggles and what recovery has brought into your life.

Here are some keys this Thanksgiving Season to developing a grateful mindset.

1. Take stock of what you're thankful for

Taking stock of what you appreciate means stepping back and evaluating your life. What do you value? Despite what struggles you may have faced, what good came from the struggles? Possibly you made new lifelong friends, found a new career, or, as many of our friends and co-workers have found at ARC – their husband or wife with whom they’ve built a family.

2. Value the little things

Not everyone will initially realize those life-altering moments like finding true love or developing a career. It is just as critical to take stock in small victories. For example, eating your favorite meal, maybe someone told you to have a good day, or possibly it’s something you enjoy that others might take for granted, like a hot shower. Put time and effort into being mindful of those small wins. Showing such satisfaction will lead to bigger victories.

3. Help others

There is no more significant way to find gratitude than by helping others and realizing how grateful those people are for you. Sometimes the smallest acts of kindness will alter your life, a friend’s life, or even a stranger’s life. For example, offer to wash the dishes, take someone’s buggy to the cart rack at the store, or pay for a stranger’s coffee.

When I am in a store and ask for help or talk to a cashier, I always look for their name badge. By doing so, I can call them by name, so they know they are not just a worker helping a customer – it humanizes the experience for them and me. Often they seem shocked, and I get a quick smile. 

Remember, take a few minutes to give back. No matter how insignificant it may seem in the moment.

4. Forgive yourself and others

When you battle a substance use disorder, you often go through moments you aren’t particularly proud of. Often people hold onto guilt and shame from their addiction. Substance use disorder is a disease, it’s often the result of choices you made, but choices you made without the intention to become addicted. Despite the mistakes you made, you are getting better and improving your life and the life of those around you. Meanwhile, it would be best if you also found it within yourself to forgive people who may have said or done hurtful things to you. 

Find it within yourself to find closure.

5. Make space for things that make you happy

We live in a fast-paced world, where everything around us can dictate our time and effort on our happiness. Create healthy habits that drive a grateful mindset. Cook, hike, swim or spend time with friends and family. Those small victories will help you take stock, value your time and effort, and ultimately provide you with the capacity to live for yourself and the community around you.

During this holiday season, I challenge you to be mindful of what makes you happy over the next few weeks. Every day, take 5 minutes and write in a journal three things you are thankful for that day. Then at the end of the day, reflect on how those three things transformed your outlook.