In the recovery communities you’ll hear a term — an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude in addiction recovery is significant because it helps rewire the brain. The reason it’s an attitude of gratitude is because constancy is necessary to change years of negative thinking caused by addiction. I used to be a skeptic. I didn’t believe in the power of positive thinking, and I still don’t believe in the gimmicky “positive thinking” that changes a person in a short period just from reading a book or going to a seminar.
But positive thinking as a constant attitude toward life makes powerful and lasting changes. Below is an excerpt from Psychology Today:
If you want to be happy the rest of your life, make sure you keep your brain happy. Why? Because being happy matters more to your brain than you might think. In fact, feeling pleasure can be so stimulating for your brain that it is primed to respond to pleasure in a way that reinforces pleasure. Your brain offers rewards to steer you on a pathway to happiness, and you can offer your brain rewards that will encourage it to become even more finely tuned-and to grow well into your old age. Other reasons to want a happy brain: Negative mood variance disturbs your interaction with your environment, affecting your ability to perceive, remember, and reinforce existing or create new neural connections, while being happy improves your ability to be more cognitively alert and productive. Other than being much more fun to be around, being happy:
- stimulates the growth of nerve connections.
- improves cognition by increasing mental productivity.
- improves your ability to analyze and think.
- affects your view of surroundings
- increases attentiveness.
- leads to more happy thoughts.
Happy people are more creative, solve problems faster, and tend to be more mentally alert.
Thanksgiving is coming up and it’s a prime example of recognizing the power of gratitude. The only problem with Thanksgiving is that many people quickly go back to their negative thinking after the day is gone, the games are over, the turkey is cold and family has left. Positive thinking, like gratitude in addiction recovery, is a practice, an orientation toward positive, happy living. Although positive thinking is not magic and doesn’t automatically change a painful reality, it empowers the brain to find solutions and healing — it can generate inner strength and courage to endure hard times.