Each Peer Training Class* we ask participants to create a presentation on a recovery tool.  In our most recent training, one of our students focused on gratitude.  Gratitude is  free. It is easy.  And the science around gratitude is solid.

The benefits of gratitude practice include:

  • More joy and happiness in our lives
  • Reduction in feelings of loneliness and isolation
  • Stronger immune systems
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increased compassion and generosity

One of the easiest methods to practice gratitude is with a journal.  It’s not complicated.  We simply take the time to identify and then write, “I am thankful for_________________”.   You fill in the blank.  The act of writing helps us focus on the good in our lives.  Challenge yourself to find new things each time you write. Often we start with the big things: our family, our friends, our pets.  But we can take time to be thankful for a cup of tea, a beautiful sunrise, a hot shower, or a good book. If you are trying this for the first time, think about getting a special notebook and pen to write with and making it part of a routine so you don’t forget.

Researchers have compared the outcomes of daily and weekly writing.  They have also compared the outcomes around writing three items or five.   Interestingly, a weekly journal of writing only  three items provides more health and life benefits.   The theory is that journaling  once a week keeps  the practice fresh and writing fewer items allows us the space to truly appreciate each one.   Most of us can find time once a week to document three things we are thankful about.

For more information on gratitude check out The Expanding Science of Gratitude

* Peer Specialists/Coaches are individuals with lived experience of a mental health and/or substance use condition who are living in recovery.  They assist others as mentors.   CMWN provides Peer Training three times a year.  For dates and information about the 2017 training, contact [email protected]


Things Learned at Peer Training – Focus on Gratitude
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Amanda Kearney-Smith

I founded the Network as the Executive Director in 2011 and, before that, I was a program director at Mental Health Colorado. My educational background is in Developmental Psychology, but living with bipolar disorder has drawn me to this work. I'm most passionate about protecting the civil rights and dignity of others. In my free time, I love reading, practicing yoga, and spending time with my family here and in Illinois.

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