Inspiration & Gratitude

What is gratitude?

Copyright 1990 The Language of Letting Go. Melody Beattie. p. 18 Hazelden

Sometimes in life, things happen too fast. We barely solve one problem when two problems surface. We’re feeling great in the morning, but we’re submerged in misery by nightfall. Every day we face interruptions, delays, changes, and challenges. We face personality conflicts and disappointments. Often when we are feeling overwhelmed, we can’t see the lessons in these experiences.

One simple concept can get us through the most stressful of times. It’s call gratitude. We learn to say, thank you, for these problems and feelings. Thank you for the way things are. I don’t like this experience, but thank you anyway. Force gratitude until it becomes habitual. Gratitude helps us stop trying to control outcomes. It is the key that unlocks positive energy in our life. It is the alchemy that turns problems into blessings, and the unexpected into gifts.

Today, I will be grateful. I will start the process of turning today’s pain into tomorrow’s joy.

Becoming Grateful

Whether you are a newcomer, or have been in recovery for years, I believe gratitude lists are a fundamental tool for happiness in sobriety. The gratitude list truly adjusts one’s attitude. Self-centeredness is the cornerstone of addiction. Recovery for me has meant letting go of my self-centeredness and becoming of service to others. Besides working the steps, and doing service work, one of the best ways that I found to become less self-centered, is to develop an “attitude of gratitude” through writing gratitude lists.

I challenge you now to take a moment to think of five things in your life that you are grateful for today. For example, your recovery, your friends, your family, your sense of smell, touch, sight, and sound. The list can go on and on. Imagine what your life would be like without these things. Write them down on a piece of paper and really think about the things you are grateful for. You will be amazed at how great you will feel! Share your gratitude list with Recovery & Me through “Submit Your Story.”

Inspirational Readings on Gratitude

Excerpt from Alan Cohen’s meditation book, A Deep Breath of Life.

“Praise the bridge that carried you over.” – George Coleman, the Younger

As I look back over my life, I recognize that everything that has ever happened to me has contributed to the person I am now. While I have gone through different professions, living situations, travels, and relationships, I see that each of them bestowed me with a gift. Even the painful or difficult times taught me lessons that make me a better person now. All of it has been a blessing.

It is important that we hold our past in a sense of reverence, along with the people we have known. If we resent our former spouse, employer, or friends, we are tied to the pain and unable to move forward. The hardship of the past will stay with us until we find a way to make it a gift; then it will empower us to move ahead.

Make a list of significant past events and relationships, and next to each entry note the gifts you received from that person or experience. If you are willing to find the good, you will. Assume that everyone who shows up in your life is here to bless you in some way. The other person may not know their role in your awakening, and they may serve you in ways quite unrelated to the reason you thought you interacted with them. Spirit’s intentions go far beyond human planning.

Then write a note or letter of gratitude to each person on your list. Thank them for the gifts they brought to your life, and specifically describe how you have grown and improved your life as a result of your interaction with them. Be sure to include those who challenged you. While this writing is for your own illumination, you may send letters to the people when appropriate. By the time you finish your writing, you will be bursting with so much peace and joy that you will wonder how you could have ever thought anyone was your enemy. Gratitude is the key to happiness; apply it to your past, and you will find friends you never knew you had.

“Show me the gifts I have overlooked, and fill my heart with gratitude for all my blessings. Everyone and everything in my life is a gift from God.”

Balance Self Pity with Gratitude

Excerpt from AAWS, Living Sober, p. 58 Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. c. 1998 

When we catch self-pity starting, we also can take action against it with instant bookkeeping. For every entry of misery on the debit side, we can find a blessing we can mark on the credit side.

What health we have, what illnesses we don’t have, what friends we have loved, the sunny weather, a good meal a-coming, limbs intact, kindnesses shown and received, a sober 24 hours, a good hour’s work, a good book to read, and many other items can be totaled up to outbalance the debit entries that cause self-pity.

Gratitude Should Go Forward, Rather than Backward

from Daily Reflections ©1990 AAWS, INC.

I am very grateful that my Higher Power has given me a second chance to live a worthwhile life. Through Alcoholics Anonymous, I have been restored to sanity. The promises are being fulfilled in my life. I am grateful to be free from the slavery of alcohol. I am grateful for peace of mind and the opportunity to grow, but my gratitude should go forward rather than backward. I cannot stay sober on yesterday’s meetings or past Twelfth-Step calls; I need to put my gratitude into action today. Our co-founder said our gratitude can best be shown by carrying the message to others. Without action, my gratitude is just a pleasant emotion. I need to put it into action by working Step Twelve, by carrying the message and practicing the principles in all my affairs. I am grateful for the chance to carry the message today!

Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier. (New York Times ) 11/21/2015

For many people, gratitude is difficult, because life is difficult. Even beyond deprivation and depression, there are many ordinary circumstances in which gratitude doesn’t come easily… Read more >