You may know the usual story
of Thanksgiving. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists joined with the Wampanoag
Native Americans to share an autumn harvest feast and that was the beginning of
our traditional Thanksgiving celebration. The event became a national holiday
in 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared it so, in the midst of the
nation’s Civil War. In recovery, though, why do we celebrate Thanksgiving? Why
do we count our blessings as we recover from an addiction?
How do you count your blessings at Thanksgiving and
throughout the year? Going through treatment for an addiction to drugs or
alcohol is not easy. You may have struggled to overcome your addiction,
particularly if you had been living in addiction for some time. Knowing that
you are now on your journey to recovery, though, is a huge blessing in your
One of the best ways to show your gratitude is through
prayer. Expressing thanks through prayer reminds you of the blessings you are
enjoying in recovery. Prayers of gratitude have also been linked to positive health
outcomes. Mostly, prayer shows that you acknowledge your blessings as you
live your life in recovery.
How Do You Celebrate Thanksgiving?
Beyond the meal and possible family gathering, there are
many ways to practice “thanksgiving” in a real and meaningful sense in
recovery. You can express thanks for simply being alive. In addition to prayer,
spend some time each day meditating on the positive things that are going on in
your life now. Do you have shelter and food? Are you making progress toward
moving your life forward in a positive way?
Do you have a supportive network of friends and family
members? Do you have the support of your treatment professionals? Express your
thanks to these individuals in person or with a written note of gratitude. You
can even “pay it forward,” expressing your gratitude to those who have helped
you by doing something that will help another individual.
Consider what your life was like in addiction. Then focus on
the positive of what your life is like now, in recovery. When you have the opportunity
to walk in the fresh air and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you, say a prayer
of thanksgiving. When you are able to sleep through the night and feel rested
the next morning, express your gratitude on awakening. When you can enjoy a
meal, such as a Thanksgiving feast, with supportive family and friends, tell
each of them how much you appreciate them.
Gratitude in Recovery
Gratitude is one of the foundational principles of Alcoholics
Anonymous (AA). One of the Daily Reflections reads, “It is very important to
keep in a grateful frame of mind if we want to stay sober.” Stories in the Big
Book include one called “Gratitude in Action.” The social support
encouraged by AA, which helps you develop important bonds in recovery, is formed by gratitude. Giving thanks can actually help keep you sober.
When you celebrate thanksgiving in its true sense recovery
by expressing your gratitude to God and to those individuals who help and
support you, you change the negative thinking that used to be a big part of
your life in your addiction. Your sense of well-being is improved. You stop
comparing yourself to other people and focus on the positives in your life now.
Benefits of Gratitude
There are many mental, physical, and emotional benefits of
giving thanks. When you celebrate thanksgiving by showing your gratitude daily,
you will see measurable positive effects on your life in recovery.
Being thankful can boost your immune system. When you are
positive and focus on your overall sense of well-being, you reduce your stress
level. That stress has been shown to lower your immune response but increased
mental well-being can help you fight off illnesses. Practicing gratitude has
even been shown to potentially reduce the risks associated with diseases such
as heart failure.
Gratitude can improve your mental health. One study has
shown that expressing thanks for the positives in your life can help ease the
symptoms of depression and anxiety. Gratitude has been linked to improved mood
overall, as giving thanks fosters positive feelings and contributes to a sense
California Faith-Based Drug
Celebrate Hope to learn more about our faith-based addiction treatment program.
Our team helps men and women break the cycle of addiction and begin anew,
moving their life forward in a recovery filled with gratitude for their
newfound blessings. We rely on the teachings of Jesus Christ, along with
evidence-based therapies to get individuals on the path of recovery.