I used to think I was a pretty grateful person, until I finally got sober and realized I'd taken a lot of life for granted.
Why is it important to be grateful?
For me, an alcoholic still early in sobriety (3 1/2 years), I need to stay away from negative thoughts or emotions produced by negative thinking. So, if I think about things others have I may start to feel envious, regretful, jealous, resentful... all negative emotions! But when I focus on my own life and appreciate what I do have, I start feeling positive about life.
Gratitude is a different way of relating to the world. Daily gratitude is one of the main reasons I feel happier and more content today than I ever have (even when I had a lot more money and material things!) Gratitude knocks the negative thoughts right out of my head - I can't feel envious and grateful at the same time!
Gratitude also keeps me more in the moment - in the present. Regret about loss kept me looking backwards and fears of what lie ahead kept me looking too far ahead. Looking at what is right in front of me - my friends, family, pets, home, health, my talents of writing or speaking or coaching - keep me right here and now! And looking around my office at my sleeping dog and cat, or glancing out the windows at the blue sky - boy, I feel pretty lucky and happy for this moment and my life!
Happy, joyous, content - these emotions stem from positive thinking and positive thoughts are what I need to not only stay sober, but to live a full life of peace and wonder.
So today - Day Three of the 21 Day Sober Holidays - take some time to stop and count your blessings, grab a pen and start a gratitude journal or pick up Sarah Ban Breathnach's famous book "Simple Abundance" with advice and inspiration about daily gratitude!
Tomorrow is Day Four and I've asked some sober friends for their favorite tips. Stay tuned!