Not sure if I’m clutching at straws with this title but let’s give it a whirl!
Getting into the habit of being thankful is one of the greatest things I have learnt in recovery. Growing up I was taught to be grateful for what I had, but the consumer culture of always wanting more, having the best and being the best definitely had an impact on me.
I spent the summers of my childhood with my cousins and family in a summer-house that my Grandpa built, in Finland. It was in the middle of a forest and right on the edge of a lake; we went swimming, fishing, took row boats out and cycled on our bikes through the forest. It was idyllic, something you could imagine Soho House buying, branding, furnishing with white wash wood and providing Hunter wellies for the guests. It was beautiful.
Was I grateful for this wonderful, wholesome experience? Nope, not at all, not even one bit. I wanted to go to Disney Land! The place of sugar, E-numbers and scarily stoic Princesses. Where all of my friends were going! Now this ungrateful attitude could have just been down to the simple fact I was young and didn’t know any better but I wish I had made more of those summers and told my Grandpa (now passed) how much I loved the house he built and the atmosphere he created.
Like Janet Jackson so wisely said ‘you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone’.
I’m pretty sure Ghandi, Buddha or Depak Chopra have great quotes about gratitude, but no one tops Janet.
In my addiction I wasn’t thankful for anything, I did everything I could to mess up each situation and opportunity I was given so that I could be miserable, then drink on the misery, then seek another opportunity, then mess it up and then start the cycle again – pretty nut’s right? That’s the insanity of addiction (a whole other blog post).
When I first entered sobriety my body regained strength and senses. One that I noticed the most was my sense of smell. I would spend ages in the shower smelling my shampoo and conditioner and in those moments I was overcome with gratitude for my body working and functioning how it is ‘supposed to’. The first few months of sobriety I was on cloud 9, walking around being annoyingly happy about everything. The sun “so bright and beautiful”; the wind “so fresh and cooling”; the rain “so good for the plants”. I’m pretty sure I was in the top 10% of annoying people back then. But I truly was grateful for all those things and to be alive.
The further into sober life I ventured the sun got “too bloody hot”; the wind just “messed up my hair” and the rain was “a typical f***ing English Summer”. Things aren’t always rosy and wonderful like they felt in the first few months of sobriety. It was time to adjust to real life, but a new life, one where I didn’t always see the bad in things.
To keep myself ‘in-check’ I write a gratitude list. I would love to say I do this every night but I’m human and sometimes I eat too much chocolate, watch too many episodes of TOWIE and fall asleep in front of the TV. The list really helps keep me in-check. It’s a recap of my day, I remember someone opening the door for me, I remember the extra few chips I was given in the canteen and I remember all the lovely people who are in my life. I find that when I bring the ‘Gratitude Attitude’ into my every day life good things start happening, maybe its just things that happen but because I am thankful for them they seem good. Either way, being grateful is a good way of being. It feels nice, and showing your gratitude makes others feel nice, which then makes you feel nice and then everyone feels nice! Which is nice right?
The house my Grandpa built.