The Power Of Gratitude (And How It Affects Your Sobriety)

The Power Of Gratitude (And How It Affects Your Sobriety)

I love sharing tips and advice to help keep you moving forward with your sober goals.
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But the truth is, that stuff won’t have much of an impact if you’re approaching sobriety from a negative place.

If your focus is always on everything you don’t have, or can’t have, it can leave you feeling pretty fed up with life. And when you’re in that state of mind, you’re FAR more likely to hit wine o’clock and think “What’s the point?”

As lots of my American friends will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week, now feels like a great time to talk about practising gratitude and how this can benefit your sobriety.
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*Pssst. If you’re thinking of skipping this post because it sounds a bit ‘touchy-feely’, stick with me.

I’m not into mumbo-jumbo nonsense either. But if a sceptic like me can be won over, so can you!

 

Why bother with gratitude?

Our brains naturally have a negativity bias. We’re wired to pay more attention to negative experiences. Back in the days when we were all hunter-gatherers, it was very useful to be constantly scanning the horizon for potential threats – but nowadays, that same behaviour can keep us stuck in a negative feedback loop.

When you’re working on something big and amazing – like stopping drinking – there are bound to be ups and downs, and challenges along the way. If we constantly feel a bit dissatisfied with life, it’s easy to think, “Why am bothering? I deserve a drink.”

 

Sobriety is a mindset game

The way you feel about yourself – and the way you perceive life – will affect your motivation to change.

For example, you can go out for a meal with friends, and spend the whole time feeling as if you’re missing out because you’re ordering soft drinks rather than cocktails. You can choose to focus on that and view the whole night through that lens.

OR you can choose to live in the moment and appreciate the fact that you’re enjoying a great meal and spending time with friends. That alone is enjoyable, because hey – you like eating food, right? And you like spending time with your lovely friends?

It doesn’t matter what’s in your glass.

You don’t need a mind-altering drug to get you through that situation or make it pleasant.

When we focus on being grateful, we’re reminded that life isn’t quite as difficult as we often perceive it to be. Gratitude is (excuse the pun) what makes the glass half full 🙂

 

Scientific proof

Tests at the University of California found that people who kept a gratitude journal for two weeks felt happier and healthier. They exercised more, they drank less alcohol and their families and friends noticed they were nicer to be around. Plus, the effects lasted for several months.

 

How to practice gratitude:
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Keep a gratitude journal

At the end of the day, write down 5 things or people that you’re grateful for and why. You could jot down five completely different things, or you could get really specific, and write five points about the same thing.

(E.g. I’m grateful for my dog because she shows me unconditional love, she gets me exercising every day, she makes me laugh with her silly antics…)
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Or keep a ‘what went well’ list

This is a slightly different take on a traditional gratitude list. Take a few moments to reflect on the day, and write down three things that went well and why.

(E.g. I really enjoyed my exercise class today. Why? Because I felt as if I’d burned off some stress and I’d done something good for my mind and body.)

On some days, you will have to work a bit harder to think of things that went well, or things you’re grateful for – but that’s kind of the whole point!

You’re finding something to appreciate, even when you haven’t had the best of days.

 

What’ve you got to lose?

We all have negative thoughts from time to time, of course we do. But if you’re not careful, complaining can become a habit, and feeling as if life is less than perfect can become an easy place for your mind to rest.

Really, the only downside to gratitude is that: a) you have to find five minutes to do it, and b) you have to give up some comfy, time-sucking, negative emotions 🙂

 

Now it’s your turn.

Give this gratitude strategy a test drive in the comments below. Let me know, what are you grateful for today? What’s gone well for you?

 

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63 Comments

  1. Today I am grateful for the many avenues of support online which has helped me to do 80 days without alcohol!

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    • Woo hoo, congratulations on your 80 days Elaine! 🙂

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    • Thank you for sharing, Elaine! It’s really inspiring and helpful. Congratulations on your 80 days.

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    • Dear Kate,

      I’m grateful today because I learned that my neighbour who has my reserve house key was talking (negatively) about me. This afternoon I went to her door and said “I’d like my key back please.” No questions asked, she handed it back to me.

      Reply
    • I am grateful for the flexible work schedule I have so I can grocery shop at lunch and make a healthy dinner for my family. I am grateful for my amazing son Brady who is nine and so self disciplined to wake himself in the morning at 6am and do his homework on his own.

      Reply
  2. I am grateful to be able to do my boot camp class, in wonderful surroundings of autumnal burnt orange falling leaves and with like-minded others. To enjoy the great outdoors and appreciate nature.

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    • You paint a great picture there – it sounds fun 🙂

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  3. I am grateful for my job, it pays the bills and the work can be interesting. I am grateful for my two cats, they are so sweet and funny and they love me unconditionally. I am grateful for my husband, he has been sober for 21 years and he is a good example.

    Reply
    • What a lovely list! 🙂

      Reply
  4. I am grateful for the sober school to help me along
    I drank last night 3 glasses of wine after 3 days alcohol free
    I’m grateful I did not open another bottle of wine last night
    And I can start again
    My experiment to see if I could smoke a little weed and not drink showed me one leads to the other in my case
    So goodbye to both

    Reply
    • Well done for getting back on it Monica. Make sure you write down how you feel today, so you get all that evidence on paper and can remember it clearly in future, should you feel the need to experiment again. Onwards and upwards 🙂

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    • I drank last night as well. My original goal was 90 days alcohol free. That has not happened! I am grateful for another day to stop drinking. My goal is to have a sober Holiday season. I want to be in the moment and not black out and not knowing what I’ve said or done. Here’s to another sober day!

      Reply
  5. I am in the white-knuckling-it 5th day of sobriety, and so today I am just grateful to be alive. Today is also the 10th anniversary of my father’s death, and the last two anniversaries I was very drunk and not with supportive people, and of course it was absolutely horrible. Today I am in control of myself and with family. Very grateful for that.

    Reply
    • Keep going Caren, it gets easier

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      • How do you get to that first day?! Everyday I tell myself this is it…no more alcohol. The only time I manage is when I feels I’ll I think a drink will kill me!

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        • Hi Anne, I’d be happy to help you with this – it sounds as if you could do with some support and some help shifting your mindset around alcohol-free living. My next stop drinking course is in January: http://thesoberschool.com/course/

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    • Keep going Caren! Make sure you have a bit of a plan in place – white knuckling it is tough (and not really sustainable, long term). I talked about some key steps in this blog post. Good luck!

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  6. I am on Day 30 of no booze. I am feeling very happy about this and have been feeling such a sense of relief over no hangovers, sleeping better and an improved sense of well being. But I am also scared that now that I’ve hit the milestone of “30 days” I will convince myself that that’s “good enough”.

    Reply
    • Congratulations on your 30 days Meredith! Take some time to journal about how you’re feeling. Is it worth going back to drinking? What is it you miss? Are you romanticising alcohol and putting it up on a pedestal? Is it worth going to back the hangovers and bad sleep? Get really clear about what you’re thinking / telling yourself. Taking a 30 day break will not have turned you into a moderate drinker, so if you start drinking again, you will be going back to where you were before you started. But only you can decide what you do next. Good luck! 🙂

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      • Thanks Kate. I tried some journaling, as per your suggestion, and it helped clear my head a bit. The cravings are getting much smaller/shorter and I am starting to feel more of a sense of empowerment about being alcohol free, instead of an irrational sense of loss and fear.

        I saw a post online somewhere that says “Wake up with determination, go to bed with satisfaction” and I am really loving going to bed each night with another day of sobriety under my belt. And it feels pretty great waking up without a hangover too 🙂

        Day 37 today 🙂

        Reply
        • I really like that quote – I’ve not heard that one before. Congratulations on your 37 days Meredith, here’s to many more! 🙂

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  7. I am grateful to have woken up happy, well rested, hangover free, guilt free and with lots of great memories after a brilliant weekend away with friends. It’s an annual break which is usually a drunken mess and ends with me blacking out and then being mortified, ill and low for days. Not this year, even though its early days into my sober life, I happily stayed sober. And I had the best weekend away!

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    • Brilliant! That’s great to hear Sarah, well done. Alcohol-free weekends are the best kind! 🙂

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  8. I’m grateful to be nearly 6 months sober. And that I managed 30 minutes continuous running today! That I am fitter stronger and healthier as each day passes.

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    • Awesome! I feel life starts to really open up after being awake for 6 months!

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    • That’s fantastic Catherine. Congratulations on your 6 months sober (and the running!)

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  9. I am grateful for the love and support from my significant other. We have a lot to work through (a big factor being me and my drinking), but I am grateful he is willing to do the work with me to make our relationship as healthy and whole as it can be and for long term success. He is a good man.

    I am grateful for my mom. She can have tough love and frustrate me, but she loves me unconditionally. She raised me as a single mom too and did such a good job. I am really proud of how strong she is. She’s a good role model.

    I am grateful for my two cats. They don’t get along with each other, but we are working on it. I am also grateful I can give one medicine to help her anxiety. It’s expensive, but worth it.

    That leads in to, I am grateful for my job. I may not LOVE it, but I like it. It’s a good company with a good salary and I have nice co-workers and even some friends there. It has also given me stability.

    I am grateful for my apartment. I have built a home with my significant other and I love what we share (and hope it continues). Many people don’t have a home, let alone food to eat. This makes me grateful for basic things in life and areas where I am lucky to be more comfortable than others.

    Lastly, I am grateful for all of you lovely ladies. We are a great support network where we learn, grow, lean on, celebrate, comfort, and share. And we are all in this together 🙂

    Reply
    • This is such a great gratitude list! I love it 🙂

      Reply
  10. I am grateful today for;
    Being sober
    Eating healthy
    Completing a day at work (which I hate)

    Hopefully they’ll be more tomorrow…

    Reply
    • Keep going Kim! 🙂

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  11. I’m grateful to be sober as it’s the foundation to really BE present to connect with others and myself – im capable of flowering and being of use in life – in a way I could not while drinking
    Thankyou to everyone who has the courage to be unaltered

    Reply
    • Totally agree – sobriety allows you to show up for yourself (and others) in a way that just isn’t possible when you’re pouring a mind-altering poison down your neck!

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    • So eloquent. I feel the same way. Thank you for expressing it.

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  12. I’m grateful for my two lovely children….great aqua Zumba class today and having lovely friends.

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    • Never heard of aqua Zumba before, Aphra! Sounds fun 🙂

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  13. I’m grateful for my migraine that I’ve had for two days due to wine I thought I “deserved”. I’m grateful for The Sober School that I can return to for inspiration. I am back on track and have made my short term goal of no alcohol at all thru the end of 2017. My plan is to finally make it stick. Nothing good ever comes from a drink and there is no such thing as just one.
    Thank you ladies for the continued inspiration.

    Reply
    • No one ever ‘deserves’ wine Leslee – that is the worst treat ever! Whenever you tell yourself that you deserve wine, what you’re really saying is, ‘I deserve a hangover. I deserve to feel awful the next day. I deserve to feel hungover. I deserve to fill my body with a toxic, poisonous drug.’ You’ve tested the moderation myth (again) and found it to be a lie. Put it to bed now and move on, knowing that you have all the evidence you need. Keep going 🙂

      Reply
  14. I am grateful I have my a.m. workouts with books to listen to on my phone. I used to be a voracious reader but life has gotten in the way of that over the last 10 years. Having my walking time, listening to the books, has brought that relaxation back into my life.

    Reply
  15. I am grateful for being sober.. today is 66 days..,and I don’t ever want to go back to the place I was 9 weeks ago… when I hit rock bottom.. I am going through a separation after being in a relationship for almost 20’years.. but whilst I feel very lonely at times.. I am healthier and fitter than I have ever been.. lost 10 kgs and have 2 beautiful children.. so much to be thankful for.. Love your blog.. it inspires me every day

    Reply
    • Congratulations on your 66 days Candice! Sounds like you’re going through a tough time, but it’s great that you’re sober right now – that makes everything SO much easier to deal with. Well done 🙂

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  16. Hi Kate and all! I’m grateful for my husband, dog, and 927 days sober!! I always love your posts! : )

    Reply
    • 927 days is amazing! Well done. So much to be grateful for 🙂

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  17. Hi Kate. Thank you so much for reaching out.
    I’m grateful for my husband, son and dog.
    I’m grateful for my 3 sober days.

    Reply
    • Keep going Lori! You can do it 🙂

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  18. IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT’S IN YOUR GLASS. Brilliant, and so true. I’m a firm believer that it doesn’t necessarily have to be difficult. Just make up your mind and have the toolbox close at hand. I’ve never been happier.

    Reply
    • Exactly – a boring party will be a boring party, no matter what you drink. And a fun party will be fun, no matter what’s in your glass! Lovely to hear from you Lisa 🙂

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  19. I am still AF after graduating from the October course and am so grateful I found the course as it has given me a huge list of other things to be so grateful for in my life!

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    • Thanks for the lovely feedback Jackie, it’s great to hear how well you’re doing! I’m so pleased for you 🙂

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  20. I am on day 74 of being sober. Today I am grateful for the sun streaming through my office window on this chilly Autumnal day in London, warming my cheeks and my soul. I’m also grateful for finding Hot Yoga in the last few months which is giving me more positives than I could ever have imagined. I’m also grateful to my husband for still being so supportive and amazing even after 11 years of marriage. Have a great day everyone.

    Reply
    • What a lovely list. Congratulations on your 74 days!

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  21. Hi! I am grateful for completing 3 full weeks of sobriety! 21 days today and counting! I am grateful for being honest with myself. I am grateful for listening to my body and giving my body support to help carry my vessel through life even more strongly, so I can achieve my dreams.

    Reply
    • Brilliant, well done! Keep going Mini 🙂

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  22. Hi Kate, today I am grateful for being 5 months sober! I am grateful for my son who is home for Thanksgiving from college and has a mom who he can trust and talk to! I am very grateful for my husband who continues to support my sobriety even at times when I do not want to listen to him. I am grateful for my friends who help keep me on the right track. I have to admit that with the holidays here I feel like it will be ok to celebrate with just one drink, but as one of my counselors use to say “play the tape forward”, and I do realize that life is better being AF!

    Reply
    • Congratulations on your 5 months sober! Keep it up! Drinking would be an awful way to celebrate the holidays – who wants to ‘celebrate’ with a glass of toxic poison that’s going to make you feel ill and full of regret? Sounds like a great thing to give an enemy, but not yourself. Alcohol-free is the way to go, for sure 🙂

      Reply
  23. I am grateful for being 21 days sober today. I am grateful for how clear my eyes look, how soft and hydrated my skin feels, how I no longer look bloated and worn and how I kicked butt at both the gym and office today. I am grateful for the sober school to connect talented and amazing women who can lean on each other while we explore the best versions of ourselves. I am grateful for a supportive husband, my cute weiner dog and a house who hasnt looked this good in years because I can now spend more time working on perfecting it in lieu of drinking. I am grateful for appreciating the little things in life which I can now enjoy without feeling like I just have to get through the day due to a terrible hangover. What I am MOST grateful for is the forgiveness I afforded myself for all the times that I gave into the drink and no longer beating myself up! Onwards and upwards!

    Reply
    • Congratulations on your 21 days Sarah!

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  24. I am grateful for 12 days sober. Aiming for 60 days. I’m Grateful for how much energy I have & enjoying mornings again instead of feeling sluggish and foggy.

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    • 60 days is a great goal and you’re off to a flying start. Well done Tina, keep going! 🙂

      Reply
  25. Reading all of these posts is so inspiring. I am sat in an apartment having a week’s holiday having just woken up after yet another night drinking and I feel absolutely battered. This is not a holiday, I am not being kind to my body and I don’t know how to begin.

    Reply
    • Hi Jan, I’d love to help you stop drinking. Have you looked at my course? I can see you’ve been on my email list for a while… if you’ve been working on your drinking alone and nothing’s changing, it’s probably time to start mixing things up and adding in a bit of support. I’d love to see you on the January course: http://thesoberschool.com/course/

      Reply
  26. Love the “it went well” list idea – sometimes some optimism and positive reflection can be powerful antidotes to a sad or moody winter day. It is the little things.

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  27. I am new to the blog but loving it. I am grateful for telling myself that I would start this journey yesterday and I did. 1 day in the bag for me, and will keep strong

    Reply
    • Awesome, welcome Thando and keep going!

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