It’s November! Let’s talk about gratitude. There is no better medicine to lift our spirits than a quick account of our blessings. What an incredibly powerful tool for changing our perspectives for the better. The happiest most resilient people I meet always seem to have an “attitude of gratitude.” The people I see with quality, lasting recovery always express a lot of gratitude in life and often turn their focus to helping others.

Attitudes tend to snowball. We have all had a day when a sour attitude or self-pity leads to further frustrations as we complain that things are continually going awry. A day in a grateful mindset tends to do the same, things either go well or we tend to respond better if they don’t. Usually, we will find that what we are focusing on will grow. Are you currently focused on complaints or blessings?

I believe that in a grateful mindset we see life clearly. Gratitude can often shift our attention from fear toward faith. When we count our blessings, we can look backward and see that we survived each situation leading up to now and maybe even ended up becoming better people as a result. Even in difficult times gratitude can help keep us going and make adversity bearable.

In our meetings we focus on education about the disease of alcoholism/addiction, we focus on admitting and accepting the problem, and we seek and implement the solutions. Gratitude is one of these solutions. The practice of staying grateful, even when things are difficult, can help in coping with the toughest situations (such as dealing with a child or loved one in an active addiction). The same goes for coping with problems involving society, family, financial stress, illness, or any other stress-inducing life problems.

When our minds and bodies are stressed and stuck in fight or flight, it is easy to become reactive and to forget about God. If we are being honest, we begin to play God or think we know better. In a state of panic or self-pity we don’t often consider how a stressful situation may have value. We must get out of the panic! Gratitude will help every time. Try it the next time you are stressed, take a quick count of your blessings. Gratitude is not a tool that dulls with heavy use, it is usually quite the opposite, the more gratitude is practiced the more powerful and effective it becomes.

Let’s hit the spiritual gym, here is the fitness plan:

Take time to count your blessings each day.

As soon as you hear yourself complaining about “anything” stop and think of something you are grateful for.

Take time and effort to show you are grateful when opportunity arises.

Identify the people in your life that support you and thank them.

Consider what good has come from your journey through an addiction.

Find a way to support another parent.

Enlist your family in a discussion about gratitude.

Help others identify blessings in their lives.

An incredibly simple tool that is always accessible is an “attitude of gratitude.” I hope we can all carry this into our relationships with other people and with God. It is the start of the holiday season, so let’s kick it off right!