Monday, November 23, 2020

Gratitude Grab Bag


Gratitude - the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. The state of being grateful. 

Gratitude List Directions: Come up with at least one thing that you are grateful for under each category. If using telehealth participants can use separate list on paper


Family/Loved Ones - Meaningful relationships and relatives


Friends and Others - Things about other people you are grateful for outside of your family


Self - Things about you (Qualities, strengths, experiences, achievements, etc.)


The Big Picture – Things you are grateful for in the bigger world outside of you and your immediate view


The Small Stuff - Little things that may seem insignificant, but you are still grateful for them


Life in General – Why are you grateful to be alive?


Activities/Actions – What things are you grateful for that you are able to do?


Future – Things potentially in your future you are grateful to look forward to


Past Experiences – Things you have done or experienced that you are grateful for


Current – Things in your life today you are grateful for right now at this current time, right now.


Gifts – Things others have given you, done for you, taught you, shared with you, that you are grateful for


Knowledge and Insight – Things that you are grateful to know and understand


Other – Come up with one more thing that has not been mentioned yet


Discuss your gratitude lists as a group

Strategies for Increasing Gratitude


Turn on your “gratitude radar” – Look for gratitude wherever you can find it. Let yourself be attuned to it – search for it – find it – “Stop and smell the roses” in life – You will be happier as you are more grateful


Flip the script on the negative – Reframe negatives to consider the bright side – Some examples:

“I got flat tire today- At least I didn’t get a blowout and crash my car”

“I failed a test – At least I have a chance next test to study harder and improve my grade”

 “My girlfriend/boyfriend broke up with me – At least I know I will find someone else someday who may be even better”

 “I lost my job – Maybe this is a doorway to an even better opportunity for me”

“I relapsed – Still, if I face it honestly, I can learn from this and be even more prepared in the future”


Daily Gratitude list- Start or end each day either writing or speaking out loud 5 things that you are grateful for each and every day – This is time tested and works for increasing gratitude



Don’t compare, but if you do - Compare down, not up - “Comparison is the thief of joy,” is a saying attributed to President Theodore Roosevelt and others, which can be very thought provoking and can instill a strong sense of gratitude. If we compare ourselves to others, we may be left with feelings of inferiority or superiority, both of which are unhealthy and have the potential to block feelings of gratitude. Instead avoid comparison altogether whenever possible. If you can’t help comparing, then think about the many people in this world who may have it worse than you – Some examples below -


Involved with Drug Court? – Rather than comparing yourself with people who have no legal charges, compare you life with what it would be like to have to serve the years in prison you may have been facing had you not been accepted into the Drug Court program


Addicted? – Don’t compare with people who can use socially – Think about the person who is at their bottom and how much better you are today even if you are still struggling. That person may even have been you. Think about how much better you have it now


Poor/broke or unemployed? – That is stressful but imagine what it’s like to live in a refugee camp or a country where people struggle daily just for clean water or a bowl of rice to eat. Think of the potential opportunities awaiting you in life if you do not give up



Never forget the basic building blocks of human gratitude – As long as you are breathing, you have hope to get better – It can always be worse – If you are alive then each day is a blessing and an opportunity to change for the better and build the life you deserve, even if its little by little, each day matters. Hope can sustain you if you keep it alive in your heart and mind.



Ø  Surround yourself with positive, hopeful, and grateful people - Avoiding negative, critical, complaining, and self-destructive people can drain you of your sense of gratitude





Thursday, November 12, 2020

Positive Qualities, Behaviors, Attitudes, Skills and Other Aspects of a Successful and Meaningful Life

Words matter. When words dictate actions attitudes and actions then words matter even more so. Every day in life it is so important to stay engaged in the process of active self awareness. It is critical to our growth as a person to regularly ask ourselves "Who am I?"  and "What qualities, behaviors, attitudes and other attributes help define who I am today." If we stop asking those types of searching and insight-oriented questions, we can easily forget who we are and fall into a pattern of denial and disbelief; and possibly even a state of hypocrisy over the course of time, if we are not careful. 

Looking a words that define traits, characteristics, behaviors and skills that make us better can serve as a form of checklist for self-inspection. As we strive for success and growth, examining the words that define who we want to be can be a daily exercise in insight and motivation building for positive change. This can be especially true for anyone working to successfully manage a substance use or mental health disorder.

Below is a list of words and phrases that define some of these positive concepts for self-assessment and inspiration. As a group review this list and honestly try to answer the closing questions for reflection. 













Knowing your Triggers




Avoiding Drama


Staying Safe


Coping Strategies


Decision Making Skills


Self- Care


Maintaining Healthy Boundaries


Paying Bills (Fiscal Responsibility)


Living a Law-abiding Lifestyle


Stable Housing


Positive Hobbies


Maintaining Responsibility


Meaningful Life


Sense of Belonging and Connection with Others


Sense of Purpose


Having a Good Conscience


Love and Respect (For self and for others)


What are some of your strengths based on this list and how did you get to where you are currently with this?


What areas are you currently working on in your life? – What else do you still need to work on for the future?


Click to view this material set to group Jeopardy game

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Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Win, Lose or Indifferent: Positive Qualities for Positive Personal Gains


Win, Lose or Indifferent: Positive Qualities for Positive Personal Gains

Introduction (Read) - Please consider this information from a neutral and impartial perspective – This activity is designed for discussing both sides of any dispute, disagreement or competition. It’s about learning, growing and working on being a better person no matter which side one is on in any situation; win, lose or draw. No matter what “side” we are on, there are always valuable lessons all of us can take with us to continue on our journey of self-awareness and self-improvement as long as we can strive to display the right qualities that will help us to truly benefit from our experiences. (The terms “winning” and “losing” are arbitrarily used in this paper to signify when one side of a dispute gets their way and the other side does not- In reality, quite often no one truly “wins” in a conflict or disagreement)


Rules for discussion – If there are people with differing views on a situation who are participating in this activity, everyone regardless of their views should display the qualities outlined in this paper (such as respect, humility, empathy, etc.)


READ: In this group, we are here to build one another up, not tear down, regardless of differing viewpoints or perspectives. Even when someone has a viewpoint or opinion that we may find to be ignorant or even offensive, carrying oneself in a dignified and respectful manner does much more to solidify our stance instead of being insulting, argumentative, accusatory or demeaning. Another person’s negative traits do not have to change the way we speak, communicate, behave or react when we are firm in our own position.


Discuss the following quote:

Starting from early childhood, all of us learn rules about the best way to conduct ourselves in a competitive or conflictual situation. It can be emotionally painful to “lose” in a competitive situation and although winning usually feels good, it can be just as hard to know how to conduct ourselves appropriately in “victory”. This exercise is about coping and behaving, regardless of the outcome. It is about building bridges even where it feels like they have been torn down due to differences and disagreements. It is about communicating, learning and growing as an individual in any situation regardless of the outcome


Discussion: In a competitive or conflictual situation: “Win or lose” – Review and discuss the following list of qualities that help get you cope and conduct yourself when dealing with the opposing side of a competition or conflict. Discuss how you can display these qualities in a competitive or conflictual situation whether you personally felt like you were the one to “win” or “lose”


For each quality – Discuss two sides: How can you display this quality when you “win” and how can you display this quality when you “lose” –


For example – Considering the first quality listed: Dignity – Discuss both below:

How can you win with dignity?

How can you lose with dignity?

Use this format and discuss both sides (win/lose) for each quality listed below, as group:


Dignity -  formal reserve or seriousness of manner, appearance, or language – Simply put: calm, serious and controlled behavior that makes people respect you 



Grace – Courteous goodwill - disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency



Humility - Freedom from arrogance - absence of vanity or excessive pride.



Respect - Due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others. Proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgement 



Empathy - Understanding (Even when you do not agree)



Assertiveness – To communicate one’s thoughts and feelings in a way that is open but respectful – Expressing straightforward confidence without insult or aggression



Acceptance - Willingness to tolerate a difficult or unpleasant situation. (In this case, whether you win or lose, accepting and tolerating the fact that there are people who think and feel differently than you do)



Closing Discussion Questions


Which of these above qualities may be a challenge for you in a competitive, oppositional, or disagreeable situation?


Which of these qualities we have reviewed are strengths for you?


Do you feel now like you are able to successfully discuss your thoughts and feelings while displaying these qualities?


Optional – Moving Forward – If the group is in agreement, and there is a consensus that everyone is prepared and able to display these qualities, you may decide to attempt to discuss a potentially divisive issue as a group. If the group is not ready and there is a potential for arguing, then this may not be a good idea


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