I read a terrific quote today: “Not drinking is the first requirement for joy; the second is gratitude.”
I am used to attending meetings where people appear pretty well put together. Once in awhile I see a newcomer enter into the room tore up, but rarely. Most of the last gaspers seem to come through treatment centers. Thank God they have a place to go and a bridge to Alcoholics Anonymous. During the past several days, I have been working with residents at a treatment center I was in over 30 years ago. I have seen addicts and alcoholics with third degree burns from smoking crack, scars from being thrown out of moving cars, sores from sleeping under freeway overpasses, and the family members standing by helplessly as they watch their loved ones die from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. Many go back out and do it again and again. I am blessed to be sober and somewhat sane. I have the privilege of witnessing the horrors I could be living if I were to drink again and grateful that I can carry the message to those who still suffer. We hear the word gratitude spoken of frequently, but what is it?
One scholar states that there are two parts. The first is an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, and acknowledge the gifts and benefits we’ve received. In the second part of gratitude we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives. This requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people. Gratitude encourages us not only to appreciate gifts but also to repay them. More than simply writing out the old “gratitude list” on paper, I must put it into action. I realize how I have been overpaid and am privileged to be able to pay it back.