Gratitude- Word of the Week

 “One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum we need is just so much raw material, but the warmth of compassion is the vital element for the soul of the hurting individual.”

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum we need is just so much raw material, but the warmth of compassion is the vital element for the soul of the hurting individual.”

            The word of the week at South Orange County Detox & Treatment (SOCD)  this week could be looked at as much more than a word. If taken seriously, it can be applied sensibly as a mindset; a particular way of living. The first assignment I was given in sobriety was to write 50 things I was grateful for. With my pessimistic perspectives as prominent as thy were during that time, it took me a solid week to conjure up that seemingly impossible list. I met with my sponsor and proudly presented to him what I had come up with. I wasn’t sure why he had me do what he did nor did I really care as I was more concerned with how I was supposed to think of a handful of things I was grateful for let alone 50! Sure enough, however, I came to a realization that there was actually a nearly endless supply of things to be thankful for in my life and that it was all a matter of the angle at which I was looking. After handing him my list, and to my disappointment, he didn’t even give it a once over. He made sure there was 50 total, handed it back to me, and said, “If you go back to the way you were living before, you may as well just throw all that away.” I remember feeling that this was a powerful moment for me but I can look back now with more clarity as to why it hit me so hard. Sure there were things on that list that I would lose literally, however, most of the things on that list I wouldn’t lose because they would disappear, but because I would lose the capacity to realize any gratitude for them. When we are in our disease we are selfish and narrowly-focused individuals. We want what we want and when we don’t get it we become blind to the universal gifts that surround us all on a daily basis. We gauge out our own eyes and then we reproach the blind.
            Unfortunately, I know all too well how negativity has been like rocket fuel to power forward my addiction. Conversely, I have found that living in gratitude nurtures and maintains my recovery. I find it very difficult to live miserably when I am living in gratitude. We’ve talked before here about actions words, and gratitude is not an exception. Everyone experiences flashes of gratitude, but it requires a conscious and daily effort to really cherish those moments, hold them dear, and then be able to watch them multiply. With some mindful awareness and a little bit of effort, gratitude becomes not only a mind state and a perspective, but a skill that can be harnessed and practiced on a daily basis that can help turn to light the darkest of days.
            With respect to what our vision here at SOCD is, cultivating gratitude, and what we try and bring to those who pass through our doors, I think of something Carl Jung said, “One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum we need is just so much raw material, but the warmth of compassion is the vital element for the soul of the hurting individual.”