I’ve heard the word gratitude mentioned a lot this week. I’ve seen it mentioned in several articles that I read online, as well as being the topic of one of my weekly Twitter chats; I think someone is trying to tell me something…

In today’s world, gratitude is greatly undervalued. We often compare ourselves to others and what they have and this can seriously affect our mindset. It’s hard to achieve a mindset of gratitude when everything around you seems to be saying that who you are and what you have is not enough. When you add addiction to the mix: whether you are the person with the problem or you are dealing with a family member with addiction, it is virtually impossible.

What is there to feel grateful about when you’re dealing with active addiction? All I can remember feeling at the time my family members were using was fear, a lot of anger, guilt, confusion, sadness, helplessness, and the list goes on. I guess I could say I was grateful for making it through each day without getting “the call” until one day I did telling me that my brother was gone. How do you feel grateful after that?

Gratitude after a loss

I can tell you that for a very long time I didn’t; I felt sadness and a loss that I wouldn’t experience again until my father passed away in 2013. But that was different, my dad was 80 years old when he died; my brother didn’t even see 50, it wasn’t right. While I still haven’t properly grieved for my brother, what I am so grateful for is that I had the best brother in the world!

He was the oldest of five and the only brother; he was so outgoing and had a great personality, everyone who met my brother liked him and he could make you laugh about anything. I was the shy one of the family and my brother did whatever he could to bring me out of my shell and make me feel special. He taught me all about sports and is the reason I am such a sports fanatic to this day *smile*. He loved music and was a great dancer, great listener and I swear just like my mom, he could and would talk to anybody! I’m grateful and thankful that I had the time I had with him and oddly enough, when he died I was grateful that he was finally at peace and not suffering anymore because he was in horrible physical pain. Even in loss, it is possible to be grateful.

Gratitude shows healing and growth and helps keep things in perspective. There is always a reason to be grateful, even if it’s just waking up for the day because someone didn’t. I know from personal experience that when you are going through difficult times, it’s hard to see anything but darkness but there is hope and you will make it through; for that you should be grateful.

My favorite quote on gratitude is from Oprah Winfrey; she said: “be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Whenever I start to feel a little envious or unappreciative, I think of this quote; it really helps me to keep my priorities straight and see that I have many things to be grateful for. I also think of the people who don’t have what I have and imagine how they must feel and that helps me to be grateful as well.

When it comes to gratitude, mindfulness helps because you have to be aware of the moment and catch yourself when thoughts of not being enough, not having enough, or going through difficult times start to weigh on you. Remind yourself of how lucky you are to have what you have no matter what and let that fill your life with gratitude, happiness and love.

Nadine Herring is the owner of Virtually Nadine, a virtual assistant company that provides online administrative support and social media management to addiction specialists and social service organizations. I specialize in working with this undervalued and overworked field to help them deal with the time consuming process of running an organization.

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