Gratitude is the quality or feeling, of being grateful, or thankful. At one time or another we have all felt it and most of us, have expressed it. Perhaps it’s a hot sunny day and we catch a time-stopping glimpse, of our rosy-cheeked child, playing contently in the back yard? For a moment something deep within you wells up, bringing with it a fleeting thought. Oh wow, I’m so lucky. Thank you. Or maybe it’s on a tropical vacation, or when we have money in the bank. Maybe we feel grateful when we get a raise, or a new car.
Gratitude is easy- when things are going well.
But what about when they aren’t?
For those of us in recovery gratitude is a vital necessity. Without it we relapse or worse, live miserably sober.
Gratitude is the antidote to self-pity. You know poor me, poor me, poor me another. When you suffer from the disease of addiction your illness looks for things to complain about. Case building becomes habit.
His car is nicer than mine.
They have a nicer house.
I get paid chump change for the hard work I do
This job sucks
It’s not fair……
For the most part the internal dialog is an unconscious habit. We aren’t intending to intentionally sabotage our well being. It’s easy to see when others are doing it, but when it comes to our own habits many of us remain blind.
Without the ability to really see ourselves, our isms progress over time.
Self-pity is a selfish me, revolving around self, and excluding all others. It remains entitled and immature. It finds nothing good enough. It’s toxic and infectious and exhausting. It ruins marriages, jobs, and lives. It parents in the most damaging and abusive way.
And alcoholics and addicts are riddled with it.
To really sober up you must become aware, of self and others.
Like any bad habit you can’t break one without finding something to put in its place. And the only thing ever strong enough to go up against self-pity is gratitude. An attitude of gratitude develops over time. It is based in action, and discipline. For each and every moment, give thanks. The harder or more hurtful things become in your life, give thanks two fold. For everything you wanted but didn’t get, give thanks, on your knees if you can. Open doors for others, let someone pass you on the road, give someone your time, share your story with a new comer. Tell a co-worker how much you appreciate them. Tell your child how blessed you are to have them.
Soon your thinking will change, directing new and joyful emotions. You may find yourself walking down the street and smiling for no apparent reason, but simply because the act of walking on two healthy legs brings about such appreciation you find your eyes tearing up.
Profound changes take place.
Thank you for my car, it gets me around.
I love my home.
I don’t make a fortune but it pays the bills.
I’m lucky to have a job.
Everything happens for a reason.
Half measures availed us nothing. There’s no sense sobering up to live ‘sort of happy.’
Even if life gave you every single thing you ever wanted, those of us with addiction disorder would still find something to bitch about. It’s the nature of our disease.
Recovery from addiction isn’t about how many meetings you attend a week. You can go to a meeting every day, sitting in a chair griping about how hard it all is. Nothing will change until you’re prepared to do the work.
Recovering from addiction is giving back. When I focus on helping others I’m less involved in self. I get reprieve from me. I become responsible for my own happiness. I develop the ability to own my part of the problem and to let go of the rest.
Gratitude is the tool that helps you get there.
Start today. For each and every negative, poor me thought, stop and replace it with thank you. Do random acts of kindness daily, with no expectations.
Addiction lives in the rigid mind set of a closed door. Nothing new can get in.
Recovery lives in openness. It’s teachable. New ideas and experiences can enter through this open door.
If you are willing, to practise gratitude you will be amazed. Life looks different, fingers and toes, lungs, eyes, ears, the people we love, each and every moment a grain of sand in our life and all so very, very precious.
And if you are unwilling?
I’d call you dry, not sober.