The Gratitude Change

This morning I awoke to softly falling rain on the roof of my home. Immediately, I felt gratitude for the protection of my house – for the warmth of the blankets covering my body – for the softness of the pillow below my head. I thanked God for giving me these comforts – for granting me this safe place to rest.

I have been writing a gratitude list regularly for over 18 years. I admit I have missed a day or two here and there, but for the most part, I have been listing at least five things for which I am grateful each day. I have not been doing this because I am a spiritual giant and came up with the idea on my own. I have been doing this because in the early days of my recovery from my addictions, my focus was skewed. I complained a lot. I repeatedly noticed everything I had to give up in order to stay clean. I was hyper-sensitive to the bad behaviors of other people (mainly because I was trying not to accept the fact that I had my own faults that needed correcting!). I often felt sad and lonely as my social life changed when I got sober and stopped eating compulsively and acting out on compulsive behaviors around food, dieting, exercising, etc. It was really hard; and to those poor souls who were showing me the way in recovery during those early days, I often only cried that I was a victim, or vented incessantly about what was wrong with the world. And, that is why I have been keeping a daily gratitude list for the last 18+ years.

One of those who had been in recovery a few years already when I came along suggested (strongly) that I start actively looking for things in my life to be grateful for. At first I wasn’t much interested in doing this – in fact, I am certain that I rolled my eyes and poo-pooed the idea. But, once I started doing it, it took hold of me and I haven’t had the desire to stop!

Doing this simple exercise each day – writing down five things I am grateful for – has changed the way I look at everything. It has changed the song of the morning birds from annoying because they are waking me up to light-hearted and welcoming, as if a direct message from God to start my day. It has changed the drive in to work from a self-pitying dissertation on having to go to a job that isn’t my life dream to an appreciation for steady work and health insurance at a time when so many people are struggling with unemployment. It has changed my self-righteous judgment of those still living in active addiction to a prayer that they may one day be blessed with recovery.

Keeping track of my gratitudes, looking for things to be grateful for each day, and thanking God for all the gifts He has given me has changed my heart. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

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