The Practice of Thankfulness

Thankfulness can be a confusing concept for some people and doesn’t seem to be well understood. It might be considered as awareness of the benefit received from something or someone. But awareness of the benefit can also be subjective and based on your ability to see a benefit. For example, if you’re having a hard time getting out of the house to your car because of a chaotic morning and that makes you 5 minutes late to where you’re going… should you feel thankful for this? What if you notice a huge accident that happened on the road about 5 minutes ahead of you when you’re in the car? Are you thankful then?

Part of the issue with thankfulness is that we often can’t see the bigger picture of how something or someone might benefit us. This takes a bigger bird’s eye view which is partly a practice to have but also limited by how much we can see something. You can’t know how some inconvenient thing happening may positively affect your life 1 year from now. And this is part of the issue with being thankful, we probably only get to see part of the benefit.

A counter point to thankfulness is to make a commitment to yourself to not complain. Just try to not complain at all for 1 day and see how it goes. This means try not to speak badly about anything for one day unless you are able to do something about it. Don’t complain just for the sake of complaining. Don’t focus on what’s bothering you excessively just to feel that life is more exciting or you are special or important.

Ultimately you will feel worse … it’s like negative energy you are watering unecessarily.

Thankfulness is not always straightforward or clear cut. Some people get confused and think it means being thankful for anything that has happened or is happening in your life. If everything feels awful right now…to just feel thankful for that.

But a better way to think of it might be appreciation. What can you feel appreciative of right now? Sometimes it means taking a birds eye view and asking yourself, if I can feel detached for a moment, what could I appreciate about the big picture? What good can potentially come about from this situation?

For example if you grew up with and still currently have an emotionally abusive father…what good could come out of it? Could you dedicate yourself to volunteering to help kids that have experienced abuse? Could you work to not repeat the cycle and not be abusive to others…using your experience as a model of what not to do to others? How can you turn pain into motivation?

If you’ve struggled from health issues…can it be an opportunity to reflect on and feel motivated to have a healthier lifestyle and look at things you could improve overall to be healthier?

You can take any negative or painful situation, but the point is to look at it from a more detached birds eye view and from that place of space and calm, consider how what is challenging you can eventually add to your life or be used somehow for good. So taking some steps back…what are things you could appreciate about yourself and your life if you try?

How have unexpected or difficult things made you into the person you are today or want to be (in a good way)? How have they or can they motivate you?

There is a famous mindfulness saying…”no mud, no lotus.” It means to look at how the ‘mud’ in our lives can be used or has been used to create ‘lotuses’ or positives. How can the pain, hurt and negativity be converted and transformed into something great that can be appreciated?

Thankfulness and appreciation are important components to recovery and sobriety. They also impact addiction and how you approach and view your life. Silver Lining understands that you have spent a lot of time dealing with feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and shame. These feelings make it that much harder to obtain and stick with sobriety and a treatment plan for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and other diagnoses. Our policy of treating small numbers of people in each group allows us to get to know you and the exact type of help you need to learn to be kind to yourself and achieve your goals. We help you flourish now and in the future. Let our Huntington Beach location be where you begin again! Call us today for more information. (866) 448-4563.

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