M(3), 6/9: The Attitude of Gratitude
Today’s meeting centered upon Chapter 19 from the book Living Sober, “Being Grateful.” The premise of the chapter is a simple one: we choose what thoughts upon which we spend our mental time, and those choices strongly influence the feelings we subsequently experience.
Is there a person alive who can’t relate to this idea? I’m sure anyone reading it this would have examples that fall into both categories. I’ll use family parties as my classic example. When I approach a family party grateful that I have family, appreciative that I have an event to celebrate, and anticipatory of the good food and conversations that I will be enjoying, that party tends to be a fun and memorable event. On the other hand, when I am dreading the event, desperate to be back home and in my pajamas before I’ve even left for the party… well, you know how those occasions turn out.
I remember the first time this concept was explained to me, I had an instant image of an old character from Saturday Night Live, Stuart Smalley. Stuart was known for looking in the mirror and repeating the mantra, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” In other words, I was skeptical that positive affirmations held any real value.
Go figure, I thought I knew better than everyone.
I have since come to learn that developing the “attitude of gratitude,” as it is called in my 12-step fellowship, is anything but reciting insincere affirmations. Rather, it is choosing to focus your energy on what is good in your life, rather than what you feel could stand improvement. It means celebrating your successes rather than beating yourself up over your mistakes. Being mindful of all the blessings in your life, and not the perceived deficits.
And when I make the effort to do this… because, at first, make no mistake, it takes an effort… well, that’s when the miracles happen. When I focus on all the things for which I am grateful, there’s not enough room in my brain to focus on the negative. When I remind myself how much others have allowed for my mistakes, it becomes obvious that I must allow for theirs. When I reflect upon how far I’ve come rather than how far I have to go, then my entire day takes on a positive energy.
Lest I have you thinking that I am sitting on top of a mountain in the lotus position, I have more work to be done in this area. My mind still naturally gravitates towards all the goals I’ve not yet achieved. I still tend to accomplish something and say, “what’s next?” rather than basking in the hard-earned success. The progress for me is, first, that I even recognize that there is another way to think other than my own tried-and-true methods, and second, that I recognize what thought processes are doing me more harm than good.
And for that progress, I am grateful.
We had a really nice meeting-after-the-meeting this morning, something we haven’t done in months, and those more casual conversations always make my day brighter!
Posted on June 9, 2014, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged 12 step program, 12 steps, Alcoholic Anonymous, Alcoholism, Living Sober, Meeting, Miracle, Monday, Recovery, Sobriety, Support group, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.