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.

Today’s Miracle:

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!

 

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Posted on June 9, 2014, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I have been trying to keep a gratitude journal, but have not been awfully good at writing it every day. But I do like, even from the little that I have done, the way that it re-focusses my head on the positive and away from thinking solely about all that has gone wrong, or everything that I have done wrong. When I am writing it reasonably regularly, I start to notice things throughout the day, things that I have to be grateful for. And they are there – so many of them – as long as I am looking 🙂 xx

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    • I am so with you on the gratitude journal… I just couldn’t seem to keep up with it. The most I can do, for now, is to stop what I’m doing and journal the list mentally, and it works wonders!

      Thanks for the comment, I am very grateful 🙂

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  2. I am grateful for this blog!! 🙂 It always seems to arrive just when I need it! (No coincidences, right?!) Whether it’s a moment in which I need a reminder, some encouragement, or just a quiet moment in which to take a breath, & read something soul refreshing! I first found this blog when I wasn’t quite six months along I think, and I am now 1 year and 6 months, clean & sober!!! It’s been a privilege to read about your experience, see your strength & hope, and know that we don’t do this alone! Thank you!! ❤

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    • Wow, just wow. I wish you could see my ear-to-ear smile right now, and I will be carrying this gift with me for a long while. First, I am so incredibly happy and proud for your year and a half of sobriety, what an accomplishment!!!!

      Second, and I am finding it hard to put words together, I am overwhelmed with your generosity. It means more than I can say to know that I am helping someone, anyone, and to know I have been seeing you through the last year… well, it’s a gift you’ve just given me, and I am truly grateful for it.

      A million thanks for this comment!

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  3. Another bit of the attitude of gratitude that I have come to enjoy is that often, even if I am actually dreading an event, if I can just get their with an open mind of some sort, I will find that the situation will often be a real blessing. I am grateful for having had enough experiences in sobriety to have faith in that process – of just putting one foot in front of the other and keep on moving.forward.

    I find that I get some of the greatest wisdom from our three rescue dogs. They are eternally grateful for the simplest thing, like putting on their leash and going for a 15 minute walk around the neighborhood. Were my fragile ego and demands so easily pleased!

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    • Oooh, this is great advice! I have a couple of upcoming events that I am… well, dreading might be a strong word, but along those lines… and I am going to take this advice with me and apply it the best I can. I will let you know how it goes 🙂

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  4. Gratitude can be life changing. I always felt like affirmations were empty and then I realized that an affirmation is useless unless we truly believe what we’re saying. Our heart has to believe or the words are just words. Practicing gratitude has made all the difference. Great post Josie! I’m grateful for you. 🙂

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  5. And I am equally as grateful for you Karen 🙂

    I agree about gratitude being life-changing. I may tweak it a bit and say conscious gratitude was, in fact, life-changing for me. Pre-recovery it’s not necessarily that I was ungrateful, but I made no serious effort at it. Upon doing the work, however, my life has been fundamentally changed for the better.

    Love the comment, and the evolving thoughts on the subject!

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  6. I am grateful for this post!

    I too struggle in the gratitude department, in terms of the effort involved. I just get damn *lazy* at times, and avoid it even when I know it’s good for me. How twisted is that? Oh yeah, just alcoholic thinking, yes? But when I do practice gratitude, I am relieved. I have to say, that no matter how crappy my day, when I lay in bed, I thank God for ______ in the day. Without missing a day. Even if I have a rare missing a prayer day, a good night gratitude never gets missed. It’s automatic. But when I am in the midst of some emotional disturbance…that is when I sometimes lack the inner juice to grind out a gratitude!!

    I am not an affirmations guy – like Karen mentioned, I have to utterly believe it for it to work, and I still haven’t gotten there yet. I know deep down that I good enought, etc. but it’s hard for me to do a Stuart Smalley there…lol.

    Wonderful post – thanks for this, Josie!

    Paul

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    • And thank you, Paul, for all of your great advice. I just replied to your last comment (I need to work on responding to comments in a speedier fashion!) so I won’t bore you with more words from me, but know that I appreciate (and am grateful for!) every word you send my way 🙂

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