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How gratitude created a sense of hope amid addiction

Now 22 years sober, gratitude helped Mark White, 40, find a new perspective on life

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28 February 2024
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When I was 18, I found myself in rehab due to various addictions.

I was closed-minded and in denial, but during my rehabilitation I was introduced to gratitude work. We were encouraged to write gratitude lists and it brought balance to my negative mindset and helped me focus on the good in my life.

For me, gratitude was a gateway to recovery and practising gratitude was the first thing that created a sense of hope in me.

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Gratitude helped Mark White overcome addiction

I've now been sober for 22 years and gratitude is the cornerstone of my life, but another huge part of my recovery is running. I combined the two to create Run Grateful, a mindful movement collective that connects running and gratitude to inspire positive change, improve mental health and create deeper human connections.

I encourage others to run or walk a grateful mile and think of all the things they're grateful for during that time. We suggest that during a run, people take a moment, look around and appreciate where they are, what they're doing and why they're doing it.

Combining running and gratitude is an opportunity to reset and look at what you can do rather than what you can't do. This combination might change your perception of your life, creating further positive change.

Running has taught me how to reframe negative scenarios. Some days I simply cannot be bothered to run, but I look back to 2013 when I was hospitalised and physically couldn't run and remember what I would have given to go out then.

Group of men smiling outdoors
Combining running and gratitude was a gamechanger for Mark

The gratitude I feel for being able to run now overpowers my negative mindset and I always feel better for heading out. Running teaches me not to take anything for granted.

There will be times when we're older when we won't be able to do what we can now, and gratitude has taught me to make the most of what I have, while I have it.

RELATED: How to practice gratitude if you hate affirmations 

Life is tough and stressful, but gratitude can help us navigate through difficult days and weeks when it feels like life is throwing everything at us.

If you're struggling to think of things you're grateful for, read on for 10 little ideas to inspire gratitude, because it’s the ordinary things that make life extraordinary.

DISCOVER: I'm a recovering pessimist – here's how I turned my life around

Man smiling in black leather jacket
Gratitude changed Mark's life

10 ideas for gratitude 

  1. Waking up before your alarm goes off and realising you can sleep for a few more minutes
  2. That first sip of coffee in the morning
  3. A friendly hello from your pet
  4. The train arriving at your station at the exact same time you do
  5. Soaking up nature during a walk or run
  6. A smile from a stranger
  7. Being able to connect with people all over the world thanks to the internet
  8. Spending time alone, through choice
  9. A trusted and dependable colleague
  10. That post run or walk high – hello endorphins!

 Find out more about Run GratefulFind out more about Run Grateful and visit HELLO!'s Happiness Hub for inspiration on living a happier life.

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