Recently, I wanted to take my gratitude process a bit further. Knowing the wonderful, creative force gratitude is in my life, I decided that I wanted to be grateful for everything – not just the “good” stuff. I wanted to include things that fall into the “challenge” category – a work situation gone sour, a financial struggle, a broken heart. Honestly, it has not been easy to summon up gratitude for these types of things. I do, however, have two tools that I have found helpful…
It has been said, you can’t be envious when you are grateful. Anger has no foothold when you approach life with a heart of thanksgiving. You tend to be happier. It has even been said that gratitude is the antidote to fear. When you have gratitude in your life, you have a good foothold on what is important. It shouldn’t surprise us then to find that a spirit of thanksgiving in our outlook, life, and overall attitude is essential in addiction recovery.
I’m not going to try and wrap this up in a pretty bow. When the initial high of sobriety fades, life is still life. Sometimes, that life is amazing and shiny and wonderful. Sometimes, it’s dark and lonely and scary. Other times, most times for me, it’s a mix of the two. And that’s ok, for today. Hopefully it can be enough for you, too.
Popular wisdom suggests that you can create gratitude out of thin air. That the only thing that you need to be grateful right now is the decision to change how you are looking at things. To some extent I can believe this. For example, you can essentially force your brain to shift into gratitude by sitting down and writing out a list. Make a gratitude list. Nearly every sponsor in AA and NA has instructed their sponsee to do this at some point. Sit down and write out every single thing that you are grateful for. Oh and just to be sure that you are actively seeking for things that you are grateful for, make the list 50 items long.
I tried living my life and working my recovery with a spotlight on my flaws and my assets. It was tough. I felt lousy when I didn’t live up to an asset, and very guilty when I acted out on my defects. This thing called a “conscience” came alive. Day after day I became more uncomfortable in my life until I had to surrender once again. The words “all” and “entirely” provide a strong message to me. I couldn’t trim weeds from one area of the garden and expect weeds in other areas not to flourish.
They say you should remember your last drink, but I was a messy, blackout, bottle-slugging drunk, so ‘drinks’ were just formalities – things I had in public when trying to convince you that I could drink like a gentlewoman. What I (constantly) did in my own time involved a steady flow of liquor where ‘drinks’ were kind of undefinable. So I don’t remember my last drink. But, as long as I live, I’ll never forget those liquor counters.
Sobriety is wonderful. Books are wonderful. So it stands to reason that sobriety books are uber-wonderful! Earlier this week, we published Volume III of my Kindle series, Think Right Into Limitless Sobriety, which is available for FREE on Amazon through Saturday. Today, we are also re-posting a list of memoirs by sober women curated from the blog at Anaheim Lighthouse.
Early in my sobriety I began to realize that God was the things, or in or behind the things, or had created the things, that I’d loved my whole life. Bach cantatas, all flowers, all birds. The man or woman who suffered and who didn’t complain and who tried to help the next person. Oh—that’s God. The blue heron. The trees that changed color in fall . . .