As part of our series focusing on overall well-being in addiction rehabilitation, today we will take a closer look at gratitude. In the last article we discussed the benefits of ´presence´ – paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment. One of the many benefits of paying attention to the present moment, is that it gives you greater power to recognise and appreciate. And this is the basis of gratitude.
As the Buddha once said ´with our thoughts we make the world´. Unfortunately for us, we have tricky brains that often gravitate toward what we don´t have or how things should be. These ways of thinking can lead to feelings of envy, sadness or frustration. What´s more, it is easy for us to stop appreciating what we do have, because the ´pleasure neurotransmitter´ in our brains (dopamine) responds to novelty and tends to react less as things become less novel.
So if we are not wired to appreciate, then how do we cultivate gratitude? Well, much like any new skill your ability to feel grateful will become easier with practice. If you focus your attention on recognising and appreciating things, then gratitude will gradually become part of how you look at life. Why not try the following exercises and notice whether you feel the gratitude starting to flow.
Daily gratitude list. Try identifying 3 things every day for which you are grateful. The more specific these things are, the better. Once you have identified the thing for which you are grateful, ask yourself why you are grateful for this. Spend a moment to focus on what it feels like to be grateful for this thing. Try sharing your list with someone else and perhaps they will feel inspired to write a list and share with you.
Say thank you. Try writing a thank you note to someone else that describes your gratitude for their impact on your life. Maybe it will be someone that you have never properly thanked for their kindness. Focus on what it feels like for you to express gratitude to this person. If you enjoyed this exercise, write another note (or better yet, write them regularly!). If you are open to a slightly more abstract exercise, try writing a thank you note to yourself. Focus on those qualities of yourself or experiences in your life for which you are grateful.
There is plenty of research that links gratitude with improvements in both psychological and physical well-being. We would love to know whether you notice an improvement in your own well-being so please feel free to leave a comment or get in touch with us at Bali Beginnings at email@example.com.