It was about year ten of my son’s addiction, and nearly his fiftieth relapse. He had attended at least twenty treatment programs and not finished many of them; it was about the fifteenth time I had no idea where he was or if he was alive, with no means of contact. It was about the hundredth time I considered the possibility that I might not see him or speak with him again. It felt like the millionth time that fear made itself well known. My choice was clear. Either I would put all the tools at my disposal to work, or I was going to go into a deep, dark pit of suffering. I chose to deepen and increase gratitude. In my experience, gratitude holds me immediately in the stillness of God’s presence, in love, in grace.
“I do not understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.” ~ Anne Lamott
So how do we find gratitude within these circumstances? Why would we make the effort? I wholeheartedly believe it’s because this is how we supercharge our love (unconditional love) and bring power to recovery—our own and quite possibly our children’s. It brings us into our hearts and out of our fear. Gratitude is one of the most powerful energies for us to embody if we are going to thrive. It is a way of being that helps us to show up in helpful ways in our own lives, for our children, and in the world.
“Gratitude is an antidote to negative emotions, a neutralizer of envy, hostility, worry, and irritation. It is savoring; it is not taking things for granted; it is present-oriented.” ~ Sonja Lyubomirsky
Research from Harvard, Berkeley, Cornell, and other institutions reports the power of gratitude. Gratitude is beneficial in many ways: it increases resilience, reduces symptoms of depression, increases a sense of happiness, improves self-esteem, improves sleep, inspires physical exercise, reduces pain, lowers blood pressure, strengthens the immune system, lowers stress, helps you live longer, and makes you more understanding, compassionate, helpful, and kind. It improves relationships, improves decision-making, makes you more creative, increases productivity, makes you less self-centered, inspires generosity, increases spiritualism, and increases optimism. Wow!
Who wants some of that? I do! If you’re reading this and saying, “I want some of that, too,” I invite you to grab a piece of paper and pen. Let’s take a look at some of the ways to invite, inspire, and exercise our power in gratitude!
1. Name at least three things for which you are grateful. Be very specific as to why you are grateful for them (for example, sunshine: it warms my home, it feels so good on my shoulders, it nurtures the garden, it lifts my mood).
2. Name at least three things that you brought to this day that were uplifting for you, for another, for a relationship, for your job, for your home, etc. Be specific about the choices, qualities, values, and strengths you brought to these things (for example, I reached out to a friend, I listened to the divine whisper to reach out, I practiced love, I shared laughter, I listened, I offered support, I felt fulfilled).
3. Name at least three things about your child (children) for which you can forever be grateful. Do not let fear and struggles overshadow this exercise. Notice if your thoughts bring you there, and bring your focus back to fully appreciate the love (for example, his bright smile, how he played with his trucks in the garden, how he played card games with his friends, his humor, his big heart).
4. Name at least three things that addiction has inspired in you. Be specific (for example, I have learned greater patience, I have a closer relationship with God, I have learned to ask for help and receive it, I have said yes to deep healing and greater purpose).
Now that you have a list of the many things for which you are grateful, what do you notice? How do you feel? How can you practice gratitude in your days? What time of day works best for you, and what do you need to make some time and space to bring some deliberate attention to gratitude? How do you think this will benefit you and your child?
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie
Gratitude is always just a thought away, always available for us. Let us bring focus and care to what we can do today. That is how we meet our tomorrows as they arrive. Today, there are things that have been blessings. Yesterdays have given us memories that are blessings for today. Let us align with the divine blessings that even addiction cannot claim. When we do this, we become the blessing. May you be blessed!
Weeds or Wishes ?