7 Reasons You Should Start a Gratitude Practice Today

a gratitude word scramble to reinforce the idea of gratitude as a recovery skill in substance abuse recovery

7 Reasons You Should Start a Gratitude Practice Today

November is known in the Recovery Community as “Gratitude Month.” Go to a 12-Step Meeting in the month of November, and the selected topic is even more likely to be “gratitude.” (In case you are not aware, gratitude is a common meeting topic the other 11 months, too.) Meeting attendees are encouraged to share their experience, strength, and hope regarding the reasons they are grateful today. Often that includes a brief statement about what life looked and felt like before they began changing the way they felt and behaved and then how different it is now that they live in a different way.

It might be tempting to dismiss “gratitude” as superficial, “trendy”, non-transformative, or insufficient. Lately, there have been concerns expressed about “toxic positivity.” But the truth is that an intentional gratitude practice is a powerful (and science based) tool. Here are 7 reasons why.

7 Reasons Why Gratitude is a Powerful Recovery Practice

  1. Power– You only have power over you. You can’t change another person’s thinking or behavior; only your own. As such, you CAN take charge of the thoughts that go on in your brain. Given that researchers estimate humans have tens of thousands of thoughts each day, why not influence some of them towards the side of the scale that creates a positive impact?
  2. Multidimensional– A gratitude practice can fit into any religious affiliation – or into an open, inclusive, or secular worldview.
  3. Directional– It establishes your filter. What you focus on, you get more of. It’s not so much that you get more of it, but you notice more of what you think about.
  4. Health benefits– Gratitude has health benefits such as improved sleep and improved cardiac health. See my blog post on gratitude in my series The Science of Woo: Gratitude.
  5. Leadership Examples– Gratitude is modeled by many spiritual, community, and self-development leaders: Buddha, Emerson, Tony Robbins, Jesus, John F. Kennedy, Oprah, A.A. Milne, Maya Angelou, Thich Nich Hanh, Deepak Chopra, and Confucius to name just a few of the hundreds.
  6. Take out the trash– Gratitude helps mediate the negative effects of negative rumination. Check out my blog post on the science behind resentment and forgiveness, which brain are you building for more information on why you want to avoid feeding the negative monster in your brain.
  7. Mental Health– Developing a habit of gratitude (which emerges organically from an intentional gratitude practice) helps with mental health. You can find some information on the Science of Woo: Gratitude or a google search.

a lightbulb to reinforce the power of intentional gratitude as a recovery tool from substance abuse


Here are some resources if you’d like to deepen your gratitude practice.

Living Life As A Thank You does a fantastic job of teaching why a person would want to change their mental orientation and then how to go about the same towards developing a “thank you” world view.

Good Days Start With Gratitude would be a great structured way to add gratitude into a morning routine.

Only click on this one if swear words make you giggle. This journal is for tired women who drop f-bombs and want to start a gratitude journal.

Grab this one if you want to include and teach your kids!

Louise Hay has been one of my favorite spiritual authors for a long time.

Gratitude; Your Journey to Joy – I wish my clients had more joy! Let gratitude assist you in that process.

And because I love me a planner and stickers.

planner with page tabs to describe one tool to assist with an intentional gratitude practice in substance abuse recovery

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