November 10th, 2012
Have you wondered what real gratitude feels like?
Is it difficult to summon up a feeling of gratitude because life has been so unfair?
Have you ever seen anyone who is full of gratitude?
I have been in recovery for 25 years now. Recovery has been a trip like no other and I’m still on my journey. I found it extremely difficult to achieve lasting recovery. I worked on myself for years, in and out of recovery, in and out of therapy and in and out of 12-step programs. A tough “nut” to crack, if you’ll pardon the expression. Finally I was at the place where I’d do whatever it took to be well and right with my world. I needed to let go of almost everything about me. I felt like a bear in a “build-a-bear” store! Only I was building a “Jeannie.” Because of my personal transformation, gratitude has become a way of life. Being able to feel gratitude for all of the people who helped me still takes my breathe away.
I am continually reminded that life is life, life isn’t fair much of the time, and one of the ways I measure the success of my recovery is by how much gratitude I’m feeling on any given day. I like to think that I ‘m full of gratitude all of the time. Unfortunately some days I struggle with feeling gratitude. Unfortunately I am as human as anyone and being in recovery adds its own challenges.
What is “gratitude?” Webster’s dictionary says that gratitude is appreciation, appreciativeness, gratefulness, thanks and thankfulness. I know that these definitions are all synonyms for gratitude. Wow!
In my mind I link the feeling of gratitude with being in a state of grace. When I’m feeling gratitude, I’m feeling as if I’m one with my world. Everything is in balance and is as it should be. In other words everything in my life is perfect or as perfect as it can ever be.
Gratitude for me is being thankful for the Universe, being thankful for my recovery, being thankful for my family, and being thankful for all of the wonderful people in my life. I appreciate having a roof over my head, warm clothes to wear, and enough food to eat. I’m grateful that my basic needs are filled. Everything else is the gravy! My heart literally feels full.
What does Gratitude feel like?
What kind of feeling do you have when you see a darling baby?
How do you feel when you see pictures of kittens and puppies?
Or a beautiful picture of nature? Or when you’re with a dear friend?
When I experience these things, I feel warm and fuzzy. I feel clear in my mind and in my heart. I’m not feeling fear, or feeling judgmental. I’m not feeling suspicious, or angry. I don’t have feelings of superiority, or feel “put upon.” I am just the authentic “me,” feeling so very thankful for all that I have in my life. I know then that I truly am blessed.
How can I get gratitude into my life?
I have a several ways I can change a mood from dreadful to grateful.
1. I wake up in the morning, say a little prayer, asking for help to get through the day, and list five things I’m grateful for today! If I’m feeling fear or anger, or feeling just plain horrible, I “make up” 5 things I’m grateful for. I do it anyway, no matter what. I act “as if” and the feelings will follow. I do this every single morning.
2. I work on keeping the memory green. In 12-step parlance keeping the memory green is to frequently remember what my life used to be like before recovery. I never want to forget what it was like. I never want to forget how ill I was in every way, physically, emotionally, intellectually, nutritionally, sexually, and spiritually. I never want to forget how hard it was to recover, step-by-step.
3. A principle that I live by is “giving it away.” In recovery we learn that if we want to keep something, we need to give it away as well. Quite a paradox! For myself, I want to feel gratitude for myself and I want to teach other people how to feel gratitude and to feel well. Being in a state of gratitude is wonderful, I want to share it with everyone.
4. I’ve evolved spiritually in my recovery. Today I focus on gratitude and on living a life of abundance. I follow the teachings of Abraham. Abraham is rather like a graduate course in The Secret. He tells me that I am meant to have an abundant life. He says I am meant to have everything I want, not only materially, but spiritually and emotionally. I’m meant to have kind loving people around me. I’m meant to be able to have so much gratitude to share with others that my cup indeed runneth over!
–Jeanne Rust, PhD