M(3), 7/11/16: The Gratitude Advantage


Is it wrong that I just kicked a variety of kids out of the house to write this blog post?  I am choosing to think not.

In typing out the title I realize it is 7-11 day, which means that particular convenience store will be giving out free Slurpees, so perhaps if I get through this post without interruption I can reward them.

The jury’s out if that can actually happen.  Actually, the jury is heavily leaning towards this not happening.

It’s funny that I am about to write a post on gratitude, and, if I’m keeping things real, I am feeling anything but in the current moment.  I dropped a weight on my finger during this morning’s workout.  At the time, I was grateful it wasn’t my writing hand; now I am realizing in this day and age I need all 10 fingers to write.  An extremely frustrating customer service call five minutes ago plays in my head, with no obvious solution on the horizon.

And have I mentioned the variety of kids?

But this is why I love a topic like gratitude; is is a universal tool that any human being can employ at any time, for any reason.  Even in the moment, when I don’t know what the next sentence will be, I am 100% sure that by the time I hit publish I will feel better, simply because my focus will be on gratitude.

And with that long intro, this morning’s literature selection came from the book Living Sober, a chapter entitled “Being Grateful.”  The chapter describes the various mindsets that a grateful attitude can improve:

  • Negative speculations (always assuming the worst)
  • The tendency to say “Yes, but…” to anything complimentary or optimistic
  • Focusing on (and talking about) the ways in which other people are wrong
  • An urgency to be right, and to prove we are right
  • An unwillingness to open our minds to the thoughts/beliefs of others

In each of these cases, a simple shift to the perspective of gratitude can make a world of difference.

I shared first, and I spoke of the primary reason I needed to read about gratitude today.  A few months back, I submitted a resume for a job, something I have not done in more than 16 years.  I found out this weekend that I did not get the job (cue the sad music).

This is the type of news where my mind and my heart are at war with one another.  Maybe skirmish is a better fit, since war seems a bit big.  On the one hand, I really and truly (and really and truly) know that the job was a bit of a longshot (I was competing with people with years of experience in a field where I had essentially none), it was my first foray into the professional world in a really long time, and that another opportunity will present itself.  I am a strong believer that things happen for a reason, and therefore this job must not have been meant for me.  I had the most ideal of scenarios in terms of the interview process, as the hiring manager is someone with whom I have a passing acquaintance and so I was able to be my authentic self.  So my mind absolutely knows I put my best foot forward and have nothing in which to feel ashamed.

So that’s my head’s side of the story.

My heart has a different version of events.  The fact that I can make that statement at all shows the kind of progress I’ve made in recovery.  Who even knew that you could think one way but feel another?  Certainly not pre-recovery Josie!  All weekend long I’d be doing something and then wonder why my stomach felt jittery, or my chest area felt achy, then I’d stop and realize what the problem was… oh yeah!  I didn’t get the job!  And I’d feel disappointment, and a vague sense of something resembling panic, all over again.

And my mind would reprimand:  What is there to feel bad about?  And I’d distract myself some more.  And so on, for the next two days.

I fessed up to all of this to my group this morning, and as usual they came through for me. According to people much wiser than me, it seems that the feeling of feelings is something that is actually important to do (who knew?).  When I expressed uncertainty at what I would have done with this situation in active addiction, they said, “Duh!  You would have picked up a drink.”

It also turns out that being hard on oneself is a typical trait of alcoholics.  At least, that is the opinion of several in the room with decades of sobriety, so I trust they’ve been around our group long enough to know.  This fact illustrates for me, once again, that the real work begins once we put down the drink.  I’ve been sober for over four years now, and I’m still working on the self-kindness.   Good thing I’m not looking to graduate from this program!

Pushing aside feelings for any reason, telling yourself they are silly or illogical, is denying your value as a human being.  Human beings feel a variety of emotions for a variety of reasons; telling yourself you “shouldn’t” feel that way makes little to no sense.

Others spoke of the need to balance their feelings, so as not to wallow too long in something unpleasant or react to something too quickly.  The easiest way to do this?   Get out of your own head… go to a meeting, call a friend, just do something different.  As the saying goes, “move a muscle, change a thought.”

A woman newer to sobriety talks about how focusing on that for which she is grateful is the number one tool she uses daily to help her stay sober.  She has found it transformative:  good things become great things, and when things are not so great she is able to remember all the other good things, and it lessens the sting of whatever disappointment or irritant is happening for her.

So I guess I need to focus on my nine healthy fingers!

Today’s Miracle:

I got one prediction right, and one wrong.  I do feel better now that I’ve written about gratitude.  Even better, I was wrong about the kids not coming in to hassle me.  Looks like everyone’s getting a free Slurpee!


Posted on July 11, 2016, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. I absolutely loved this post and agree with everything you said! I also said an ‘ouch’ for you. I hadn’t heard ‘move a muscle, change a thought before’ but it makes perfect sense to me. When my addict voice is chattering – either about having a drink or just trying to get me to think or behave badly, I find that doing a non-passive activity helps – a really brisk walk or some hard work in the garden. Blogging helps too because it’s cathartic and requires concentration.

    I discovered gratitude in sobriety and it’s enabled me to be grateful not just for the many great things in my own life but for the good fortune and success of others too. The old me would have felt only jealousy, resentment and a sense of unfairness.

    Great post, thank you. Hope the finger is feeling better soon. B x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the insightful comment, B. I hadn’t considered gratitude from the perspective of being grateful for the success and fortune of others too. What a fantastic way to expand gratitude!

      I am feeling better, and I appreciate the well wishes!


  2. Ginger Groundhog

    My heart reaches out to you because you didn’t get the job but you also made my heart soar at the beauty and eloquence of this post. I was reading this thinking I wish I could write like this. I am glad you found the gratitude in all this and that you can light the way for others and remind us that head and heart aren’t always in alignment. As so often happens I picked up another gem “move a muscle, change a thought” brilliant. Thanks for writing this Josie, sore finger and all.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hug.
    Sometimes we are so focused on acceptance that we forget to allow the disappointment.
    It is disappointing to not get the job. It’s not a reflection of your worth or a hidden slight, it’s just the reality that they chose another candidate.
    It’s ok to cry a bit and be sad. And then hug yourself and move on. That’s when gratitude helps. It prevents wallowing in exaggerated self pity.

    I think the wish to pretend it doesn’t hurt is actually what causes the most distress.

    You obviously have a great sober life!

    Here’s to the next opportunity!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the hug, Anne!

      I think you’re right… my head kept telling my heart it was being silly, and that’s where the real trouble began. So thank you for reminding me of the simple truth: it was a disappointment, and I can allow room for that.

      I feel better just reading your words, thank you so much!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Josie!
    I am very sorry you didn’t get the job.
    I will wish you a bunch of new job offers for you!!
    And thank you for the new saying…move a muscle, change a thought!
    I never heard that before!
    Hugs from me too!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Things happen for a reason” ….like me clicking the post that led me to your beautiful words. I used to be so good at gratitude, and not so much lately (I have a variety of kids at my house almost every day, too!)
    As always, you find ways to gently remind me of what’s important. I love your perspective on ‘feeling our feelings.’ That makes so much sense…especially when try to figure out what’s behind them.
    I’m sorry that I’ve been away for so long. I think of you often and wish we could lace up the shoes and go for a run together 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Please know I am thinking of you as often as you are thinking of me. And if you apologize, then I must, so I suppose we cancel one another out. Someday soon I will be back to reading and commenting as I did in the “glory days” of blogging, and I know how busy you are, so let’s reassure one another of our mutual love… you know you have mine!

      Feeling my feelings is a work in progress, and that is an understatement. This is one of those journeys where I keep asking the question, “And why exactly is this so important?” and never get an answer. There’s a definite leap of faith involved in this one!

      Luckily, we in the blogging world all have each other to lean on in times of trouble, and trade wisdom to make our hills a little easier to climb. And I am even luckier that I have blogging friends like you who introduces me to TONS of new people to help me on my way, so I will add that to my gratitude list 🙂

      Thanks for the comment, and I hope you’re enjoying your houseful of kids!


  6. Nice. It often comes down to is the glass half empty or half full. Thanks for reminding us of that.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m sorry about the job. I know that awful stomach drop feeling and how the mind tries to soothe with logical points. Of course there is a lot to be grateful for and I found this hope really practical and helpful. The insert about gratitude blocking toxic emotions is really interesting…it all got me thinking and considering how to apply gratitude more effectively. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Kristen. Once again (since I’ve written about this about a zillion times), ever since I wrote about it I felt better. And of course reading these wonderfully supportive comments is just icing on the cake!

      I have read more than once that it is impossible to feel gratitude and anxiety simultaneously. There must be something to it!

      As always, I appreciate your comment, your support, and your perspective!

      Liked by 1 person

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