Executive Director’s Message: Intentional Gratitude
This Thanksgiving, many of us will gather around the family table, just like always. Others will be forging a new way of life in recovery; observing Friendsgiving or enjoying a movie and some needed serenity. Whatever way we choose to celebrate, gratitude should be a part of our day.
I remind myself to practice intentional gratitude. This is when we try to not rush through life unaware and pressured. Instead, we look for opportunities to be thankful. The action of being grateful, expressing our thanks can be a powerful tool for living a meaningful life. Studies show that when we deliberately pursue an appreciation for the goodness in our lives, the result is an increase in our well-being and happiness. That’s intentional gratitude.
In addiction we frequently experience fear and negativity. This increases cortisol, a steroid hormone, within our bodies; initiating a “fight or flight” response in response to perceived danger. While this may protect us from a bear attack, it does nothing for us at the Thanksgiving table when “that” relative starts talking politics. However, developing a positive mindset will help.
Instead of dwelling on what we can’t stand or the things that are missing in our life, when we focus on the goodness in our life we are actually retraining our brain to look for abundance. A positive mindset is the pathway to new opportunities and using a small success to achieve a more meaningful life.
Intentional gratitude can set the tone for the rest of the day. Some people like to begin the morning with meditation or by using words of gratefulness aloud. You may prefer to reflect about your day in the evening, writing down the good moments and people who made you smile. During these times, I work to flip frustrations or challenges by looking for the new opportunities they present. Our thoughts direct our efforts, and purposely developing a positive mental attitude often results in more beneficial outcomes for us.
As the holidays approach, we tend to focus on gift-giving, to-do lists, and fitting all the extra activities in our already busy schedules. Instead, we could choose to make thankfulness the focus. Choosing to be happy here and right now is like a small pebble thrown into a pond; the ripples of goodwill can calm us and have a significant impact on other people.
Whatever you end up doing, L.A. CADA wishes you a happy and grateful Thanksgiving.
Watch: The Healing Power of Gratitude