How To Appreciate The Little Things In Addiction And Recovery


Appreciating the little things in life means that you focus your attention on what nurtures and sustains you in life. On everything and anything that brings you even the smallest amount of pleasure. It also means practicing gratitude by noticing these everyday things that you may otherwise take for granted so easily.

Because we are going through so many major changes in active addiction and early recovery, it can be somewhat difficult to hone in and focus on being grateful for the small stuff.

We’re pretty focused on the major things – doing all we can to stay clean and sober, learning to live a happy and functional life and beginning to work on repairing damaged relationships (including your relationship with yourself).

So many reparations and “firsts” may make early recovery seem overwhelming and when you feel overwhelmed, you are less likely to stop and bask in gratitude. “What do I have to be grateful for,” you might think to yourself any of the following, which I’m sure many of you will be able to recognise in your own life too:

  • I screwed my entire life up
  • I live in a halfway house, on the street or in my car or vehicle
  • I don’t have a car
  • My parents, family members and friends won’t forgive me
  • I ruined my opportunities for education or training
  • I lost a good job or my dream job
  • My friends all hate me or I have no friends outside of those who also use or drink
  • I can’t even afford to eat, pay bills or live comfortably
  • My physical and mental health has suffered as a result of my addiction
  • My appearance or level of personal hygiene is bad
  • I’m not worth the effort to change
  • And the list goes on…

It can be easy to focus on the negative, but doing so certainly won’t help you to progress in your recovery!


What Can You Do To Ensure That You’re Staying Grateful?

One of the most important aspects of staying grateful is remembering that you are not alone and developing your own families for addiction recovery. Seeking forgiveness from your family of origin is a necessary and important part of recovery, but it’s also important to understand that forgiveness will happen on their time frame – not yours and trying to force forgiveness will only serve to damage the relationship in question further rather than repair it.

Creating your new “family”

In most cases, these “families” will consist of different groups of friends, mostly friends you’ve met in 12-step meetings, those you meet in rehab or detox or other recovery therapy organisations.

They will support you through the hard times and celebrate with you during the good times. When you feel down, focus on a specific friend that you’ve made, and all of the positive qualities they bring to the table. Remind yourself that you bring positive qualities to the table too – and that now you finally have the capacity to be a good, lifelong friend.

Additionally, your family of origin might not understand addiction and recovery as authentically and thoroughly as someone who is or has lived it would. For these two reasons, it’s essential that you create your own community of friends that come from a similar situation to your own who are also in addiction recovery.

It’s the Small Stuff

In your recovery support groups, you will probably be introduced to mindfulness techniques or exercises. Essentially, mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery or other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.

It has to do with focusing on the present moment and accepting all of the thoughts, feelings and sensations that you experience where you are, when you are. This practice helps with gratitude a huge amount – if you’re living in the present moment, you aren’t dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.

Gratitude lists

You aren’t depressed (living in the past) or afraid (living in the future). You will be able to look around you and find at least one thing to appreciate. Many individuals who are new to recovery and even those who’ve been in recovery for a long time will practice writing down gratitude lists in the morning or in the evening, reminding them of the good things they’ve got going for them.

You can write your own gratitude list in your head, phone, in a diary or journal or anywhere else, at any point in time. Take a look at your surroundings or examine how you’re feeling physically, emotionally or mentally.

Do you feel happy? Did you feel happy at all during the day? How do you feel physically? Are you withdrawing? Do you have all of your limbs? Can you see? Can you smell? Are you living in a dumpster? If you boil it down to where you used to be and where you are now, you’ll likely find that you have a ton to be grateful for. “I’m grateful that I have good days now – I used to just have bad days. I’m grateful that I have a roof over my head and food in my belly. I’m grateful that I’m clean and/or sober and that I can experience things – the good and the bad – the way they’re meant to be experienced.”

Day to Day Activities in Recovery 

In order to stay grateful for the little things, it’s a good idea to develop a somewhat structured day-to-day routine. This routine could look like hitting a different meeting every day and exercising for 30 minutes or waking up, reading a daily reflection or a “just for today” reading from fellowship organisations such as NA, AA, CA, Alanon, Naranon and others. These change daily and there is one for every day of the year. Even simple things like drinking a cup of coffee is something you can be grateful for.


Creating A Daily Recovery Plan

Not to be confused with a relapse prevention plan, this guide will help you plan your daily life in recovery to maximise everyday life and the opportunities that arise within. They also help you to avoid triggers and reminds you what you need to do should you experience a craving or temptation to use or drink to avoid relapsing.

We’ve created a comprehensive guide to creating and implementing a daily recovery plan along with downloadable templates by clicking here.

As you discover more about yourself, you’ll figure out which routine works best for you. In the meantime, we’ve gathered several helpful hints that might inspire you to shape your own daily routine!


  • Try and incorporate yoga or relaxation into your routine

It has been proven that a daily (or near daily) yoga therapy or meditation style practices are extremely beneficial for those in recovery. Not only does practicing yoga help with mindfulness and living in the present moment, but it has been shown to promote better self-awareness, improve sleep and bolster self-esteem. Many yoga studios will offer “recovery classes”, which are specifically designed for those that are healing from a substance abuse disorder.

You can also contact your nearest community drug and alcohol service for listing in your local area to find out more. You can find contact information for them on our help and support page here. You can also do a search engine search if you live in a different country or area where you don’t have a drug and alcohol service near you.

  • Find an inspirational daily reader

There are many daily readers geared towards those in addiction recovery, though you can also find one geared towards anything that you are experiencing (for example, overcoming grief, recovery from eating disorders, overcoming trauma and others). Find a reader that speaks to you and start every morning off with a quick read and reflection.

  • Work with your sponsor (if you have one) at least once a week

Your sponsor will take you through the 12 steps of whichever program you choose (if you choose to use fellowship style meetings and resources such as NA, AA, CA ect) and will offer you advice and insight when you need someone to talk to.

In most cases, your sponsor will leave it up to you to decide when to meet as you’ve got to be the one to put in the necessary effort into your recovery! Make sure that you’re meeting up with your sponsor at least once a week and ideally more whilst you start working on your stepwork in between meetings.

  • Incorporate meditation and prayer into your daily routine

Prayer is a big part of recovery – not religious prayer, but prayer that will help you to bolster a relationship with a higher power (if you have one). It’s said that prayer is talking to your higher power and meditation is listening. Even if you only meditate for three minutes a day, incorporate both into your daily routine.

  • Find a clean/sober activity that you enjoy and dedicate some time to that every week or every day

One of the most beautiful parts of sobriety or abstinence is the opportunity to explore new activities and figure out what it is that you enjoy! Take a dance class, paint, draw, run, go for bike rides, try scuba diving, fix up a car, attend a short course in a topic of interest at your local college or school, try paddle boarding or learn to paraglide, the list is endless! Try as many things as you can and make what you like doing part of your daily life and routine.

  • Volunteer on a regular basis

One of the best ways to stay grateful and get away from isolation where your thoughts may attempt to get the better of you to use or drink again is to volunteer.

Work at a soup kitchen for those who are homeless or sleeping rough, volunteer in a charity shop once a week or find a local animal shelter. If you have valuable skills that may benefit others, offer to “donate” those skills to help others. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, why not ask if a local homeless shelter needs new posters to receive food and clothing donations or any other skills you may have. There are endless volunteer opportunities and not only does volunteering help you to appreciate all that you have, it works to even further bolster self-esteem.

Staying grateful in very early recovery may seem difficult, seeing as you’re trying to navigate the world around you through entirely new eyes (so to speak). It’s important that you practice showing appreciation for the little things as it will help you stay grateful, and after awhile it will become second nature. For many years or even decades in some cases, we’ve lived with our heads telling us to do silly things in order to drink or use, it’s now time to change that to more positive outlets.


80 Little Things You Can Do To Become More Grateful & Appreciate The Little Things

We present for you a list of 80 small things which are sure to make you feel that little bit happier. We guarantee your mood will lift when you…

1 … enjoy a walk in the sunshine

2 … take a picture of a rainbow

3 … watch the sun set

4 … have breakfast in bed

5 … laugh until your stomach hurts

6 … take an hour to study something

7 … smell your favourite perfume

8 … pour yourself a glass of your favourite drink

9 … have lunch on a park bench

10 … listen to the sound of the ocean

11 … wake up after a good night’s sleep

23 … receive a positive social media comment

24 … try tasty new food

25 … a stranger helps you out

26 … take a moment by yourself

27 … find some coins in your jeans pocket.

28 … put on a pair of fresh, laundry-scented socks

29 … do a small good deed

30 … book a holiday

31 … receive a compliment

32 … get everything on your shopping list

33 … eat that piece of chocolate cake

34 … look through some of your old photos

35 … find a parking space in a crowded car-park

36 … sit down with a cup of hot tea

37 … meet an old friend

38 … cook a delicious pie

39 … avoid a traffic jam

40 … smile at a joke on the internet

52 … fix that squeaky door

53 … get a postcard in the post

54 … breathe in the fresh air after a downpour

55 … listen to your favourite song

56 … bake some buns

57 … complete a crossword

58 … smell bacon cooking on the barbecue

59 … notice the first apple tree blossoms of the season

60 … order something for yourself online

61 … call up an elderly neighbour or relative

62 … enjoy an ice-cream cone on a sunny day

63 … eat a hot bowl of soup on a cold day

64 … walk past a bakery and the smell the newly baked bread

65 … re-visit an old hobby

66 … go for a walk in the park

67 … help a friend with a problem

68 … give someone a nice surprise

69 … receive a nice surprise from someone else!

70 … watch an old movie you haven’t seen in years

71 … receive a nice message from someone you haven’t heard from in years

72 … finally do something you’ve been postponing for too long

73 … come back from the gym feeling great

74 … make a new friend

75 … play with your cat or dog

76 … watch a funny video online

77 … finally get rid of something that’s been annoying you

78 … find something after giving up looking for it

79 … learn a new word in a foreign language

80 … tell somebody that you love them

You don’t have to be a world champion, a millionaire, or a Nobel Prize winner to enjoy life and learn to appreciate the small details. Lifelong happiness can be found in the simplest things that are here for you every single day. As the old known saying goes: ‘the best things in life are free’.

Are there any special moments which we’ve left off our list? Drop us a line and tell us about your magic everyday moments.


Where Can I Find More Help?

You can find a wide variety of groups, charities and organisations who can help you overcome your addictions. You can find their contact information on our help and support page here. You can also consider a variety of therapies which can benefit your addiction and recovery. You can learn more about this here.


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Published by Drink ’n’ Drugs

Providing useful, relevant, up to date information and support for those suffering from active addiction or those who are in recovery.

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