This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen it before – Maya Angelou
It is in recovery and through the 12 steps program of Alcoholics Anonymous that I was introduced to the concept of Gratitude. So, like for all the clever suggestions I heard in recovery, I decided to give it a try; I was going to experience the magic of the “Attitude of Gratitude”.
How to do this? To begin with, I wrote and sent a list of daily gratitude to my AA sponsor or to another member of my AA homegroup. Then, it was suggested to keep seeking the “WOW” in every day, the small miracles, God’s presence in every step, something much bigger than me… And surely, the miracle happened! I didn’t even have to look for reasons to be grateful, it was just coming abundantly.
The Mindfulness Awareness Research Center of UCLA (University of California Los Angeles) stated that gratitude does in fact change the neural structures in the brain and make us feel happier and more content. Feeling grateful and appreciating others when they do something good for us triggers the ‘good’ hormones and regulates effective functioning of the immune system. Scientists have suggested that by activating the reward center of the brain, gratitude exchange alters the way we see the world and ourselves. (Psychology Today – 19.11.2019)
Gratitude can have such a powerful impact on our life because it engages our brain in a virtuous cycle. Our brain only has so much power to focus its attention. It cannot easily focus on both positive and negative stimuli. It is like a small child: easily distracted. Oh, your tummy hurts ….here’s a lollipop! So, once we start seeing things to be grateful for, our brain starts looking for more things to be grateful for. That’s how the virtuous cycle gets created.
For those of our readers who spent some time in Crossroads, you will surely remember the reflection group that you attended every night. Highlight of the day and something to be grateful for… 5 minutes around the room to reflect on what is positive in our day, in our new recovered state. Also, during my day, I keep saying thank you out loud for the little things, for the nature, for the air I breath or the food I eat… for the connection with other humans, for the emotions, even the bitter ones which are providing me with an opportunity to overcome a challenge… And at night, I reflect on the past 12 hours, seeking for things to be grateful for. Sometimes, I make up a list, in my notebook, just to see it black on white, answering the following questions:
- What was the best part of the day?
- When did I feel grateful today?
- What made me smile today?
- What was the most delicious thing I ate today?
- What did I enjoy listening to today?
- What beauty did I see today?
- What simple pleasure did I enjoy today?
- What act of kindness did I witness today?
- Who helped me today?
- Who was kind to me today?
- What did I learn today?
- What obstacle did I overcome today?
- What negative was I able to turn into a positive today?
Life is better with gratitude! Expressing thankfulness and appreciation daily allows us to send a positive message to HP, to God, to the Universe, and this for sure comes back in grace, peace and serenity…
Try it, it’s completely free and so rewarding
Counselor Aid – 9 years clean and sober