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The Benefits of a Gratitude List in Recovery: What Things Are You Grateful For?



If you’re in recovery, chances are that you’ve heard about the importance of gratitude lists. 

If you haven’t, here’s what they are: a list of things that make you feel grateful, whether that be something big or small 

— anything from a good meal to a simple breath of fresh air. But why does this practice matter? How can it help your healing process?


Table of Contents

1. Gratitude lists help you to focus on the good in your life rather than looking at what’s missing

If you’re struggling with addiction or other mental health issues, a gratitude list may help you to focus on the good things in your life and overcome negative thinking patterns.

When we look at what we don’t have, it can make us feel worse about ourselves and our circumstances. 

A gratitude list will help you to focus instead on what you do have—and that makes it easier for us to appreciate what we have, rather than focusing exclusively on our problems.

If you find yourself feeling dissatisfied with what is happening in your life, try writing down all the things that are going well for you right now. 

It might be something as simple as having friends who care about you or being able to go out into nature once a week. 

These small positives can add up over time so that they give us hope for the future without causing us any further stress or anxiety!


2. A gratitude list can help you focus on important things

In recovery, we have to face the fact that our lives have been largely filled with pain. 

We don’t have a lot of positive memories and experiences to draw from, so when we are trying to think about what we are grateful for, it can be difficult. 

This can cause us to focus on things like “I am grateful that I am not still using drugs or alcohol” or “I am grateful for my sober friends.”

It is important to remember that these things are significant and should be part of your gratitude list in recovery; however, it can also help if you include things that make you happy or feel good right now.

Maybe you are taking yoga classes because they help relieve stress; consider adding this activity as something that makes you feel good so that your list doesn’t become a constant reminder of all the negative aspects of being in recovery (which can lead back into wanting more). 

Or maybe there is something else going on in your life right now—like an upcoming vacation or anniversary—that will bring joy and happiness into your life; add these pleasurable moments as well!


3. Gratitude lists are an opportunity to practice mindfulness

  • Mindfulness is a mental state of awareness. It involves being in the moment and focusing on the present.
  • When you practice mindfulness, you’re able to focus on what’s happening around you as opposed to your thoughts or feelings about what happened earlier in your day or how tomorrow will go.
  • Mindfulness can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, which is great for any type of recovery program because it helps people learn how to cope with difficult emotions without turning back toward alcohol or other substances that might make them feel better in the short term but cause problems in their lives down the road.


4. Gratitude lists are forms of self-care that make you feel good

Gratitude lists are also a form of self-care. You might be asking, “What on earth does gratitude have to do with recovering from drug addiction?” 

The answer is simple: gratitude helps you feel good about yourself and your life.

When you write out what you’re grateful for, it reminds you of all the wonderful people and things in your life that make it worthwhile. 

It reminds you of all the wonderful experiences that have happened to you over time—even if they don’t seem important now. 

And most importantly, writing down these things makes them easier to remember later on when times are hard or when life seems overwhelming!


5. Gratitude lists can help you become more present in your life

A gratitude list is a great way to become more present in your life. When you’re feeling grateful for something, it’s easier to be aware of what’s going on around you. You’ll notice small things that might otherwise go unnoticed. 

For example, if you’re grateful for the sun shining through your windows, take a moment and appreciate how warm it feels on your skin. 

Or if someone does something nice for you and makes a big deal about it, focus on their words instead of becoming distracted by something else happening nearby. 

Here are some other ways gratitude can help increase awareness:

  • Focus on what’s right in front of you
  • Be aware of what’s happening at the moment
  • Try not to get lost in thoughts or emotions.


6. Writing a gratitude list helps motivate you to keep doing the work required for recovery

The list of things you are grateful for can help you stay motivated to work towards recovery. 

This is because it encourages you to focus on the good in your life and reminds you that there are many more things for which to be grateful than there are bad things. 

With this new perspective, it becomes easier to notice the little things that make life worth living, and these can be used as stepping stones toward bigger changes, such as recovery from addiction.

Gratitude lists also help keep negative thoughts at bay when they arise; by focusing on positive aspects of yourself and your life, they help offset any negativity or self-doubt that may try taking hold during difficult times in recovery.

Finally, gratitude lists help promote self-esteem by reminding us how much we have been given

—this can also tie into motivating us further toward our goals because we feel more empowered knowing what we already have going for us!


Recap: A gratitude list is as simple as it sounds, and it can be a surprisingly powerful tool for recovery

A gratitude list is as simple as it sounds, and it can be a surprisingly powerful tool for recovery. 

The idea is to write down three things you’re grateful for each day. Some people will keep a gratitude journal or notebook by their bedside so they can easily jot things down when they wake up in the morning; others prefer to do their listing at night before going to sleep. 

Either way, the process of writing down things you’re grateful for can help put your mind in a more positive place and encourage positivity throughout your day.

A gratitude list helps us remember that we have so much good in our lives

—even when it feels like nothing is going right, or even if we’re having one of those really bad days! It reminds us that there are always upsides and silver linings around every corner. 

Plus, there’s research showing how being grateful makes us happier people overall (and happier people tend not to relapse).



A gratitude list doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as writing down five things you are grateful for each day, or it could be a long list that includes all the things you’ve accomplished in life so far and all the people who have helped you along the way. 

The most important thing is to keep at it because those benefits we talked about earlier—really do come into play here! 

And don’t worry if your first few attempts don’t turn out perfect; what matters most is that you’re taking steps towards recovery and doing what works best for YOU.


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