With the last of the Halloween candy in the rearview mirror, we can all set our sights on this season of gratitude.
I don’t mean the frenzy of Black Friday deals. (Although who doesn’t love a good bargain?) But the season of gratitude that grows from sowing seeds of thankfulness in our souls in these upcoming weeks.
The smallest seeds of gratitude can grow a harvest of hope, consolation, understanding, wisdom and, yes, joy, even as we live in the reality of the family systems illness of substance use disorder.
The disclaimer here is this: seeing life through a lens of gratitude is no easy task in the midst of the systems illness. The symptoms of addiction in one way or another impact every family member and loved one. Suffice it to say the symptoms are not the best version of anyone’s self.
But the power of intentional gratitude is stronger because it calls forth the best version of our hearts and our actions.
The power of gratitude truly sustained me during the heartbreaking years that my family struggled in the eye of the storm of addiction. Perhaps the greatest lesson I learned was that when I purposefully looked for even the smallest thing to be grateful about, my own outlook was uplifted, and I could better weather the storm.
Intentional gratitude is a practice. It’s a kind of spiritual muscle we need to use as often as possible so that it does not atrophy and lose strength.
When we can bring our attention to sowing into the soil of our lives and the lives others seeds of thankfulness, we start to see our circumstances differently. We become less focused on the desolation caused by the disease of substance use disorder and more aware of the promise of hope inherent in life.
When I felt like my family was being consumed by the disease, I had to push myself hard to open my heart to be grateful.
It was not easy.
But every time I did push myself to practice gratitude for something, it brought me a measure of comfort.
That practice has never failed me.
How has intentional gratitude helped you?
Please share here. We can all be inspired by our collective experience, strength and hope.
Nancy and her son, JP, are co-authors of Unchained: Our Family’s Addiction Mess Is Our Message. Their book tells the true story of JP’s descent into opioid and alcohol addiction to recovery to become co-founder of a national healthcare system.
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