Gratitude: Focusing on the Bright Side

If you count all your assets, you always show a profit. ~Robert Quillen

I can get so frustrated with my life some days that I allow my thoughts to make me feel as though nothing is going my way and nothing ever will. While I was doing the dishes this afternoon I made a mental list of all the things going wrong. My daughter is getting ready to move into first apartment while attending the college and the change-related stress due is causing tension between us. My grown son has been especially busy lately and doesn’t seem to ever return my calls. My freelance writing was rejected by two editors last week. There are big changes taking place at my job that could affect my future and the uncertainty is unnerving. On top of all that, I haven’t had any success in my search for a new romantic partner. When I start reviewing the dismal list, I told myself I’m not in the pity pot, or focusing on the negative side of things. These issues are the facts in my life they are real problems. I concluded that it’s ok to feel a little sorry for myself because my life really is going nowhere. It’s my poor life and I’ll cry if I want to.

The immediate problem with that dreary conclusion was that it made me feel really bad. In the old days I had a quick solution to bad feelings. I would numb them with a drink or a pain killer, tranquilizer or a joint or some other equally unhealthy way of self medicating whether it was a chemical or an unhealthy behavior. I suppose there was time prior to being in recovery when I would have eagerly bought into my negative selftalk. Thanks to the 12-Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, today I have new tools that help reject the bad thoughts, crawl out of the pity pot or prevent me from jumping in, in the first place and back into action and healthy, spiritual living.

Why does it seem to come so naturally to make a list of what’s wrong? Why not make a list of what’s right and many things I have to be grateful for? Number one, I can thank my higher power for having good health. I am lucky have a spiritual program and endless meetings to choose from morning, noon or night in a large metropolitan area. I can be part of a wonderfully supportive AA community. As a part of the fellowship, I have developed several close friendships. Since becoming sober I have committed to a solid physical exercise program. Yes my daughter is leaving and I think we both are feeling growing pains as a result, but overall we have a loving relationship. My son has been busy because he thrives on busyness, but he eventually comes around and the truth is our relationship much better than it had been. I’ve been rejected by a couple of editors, but I’ve been accepted by others. Maybe I am not supposed to be in a romantic relationship right now. Perhaps the right person will appear in my life at later date when he is supposed to. The changes at my job are uncertain yes, but not necessarily negative. I am lucky to have a decent job. If it does end, I’ve left jobs before and I’ve gotten through, often finding better, more suitable employment.

I simply don’t what the future holds at this time. That’s one of the reasons it helps to stop and make a list of things to be grateful for. The exercise keeps me the present moment and that brings me to the center where I can find serenity. I can look on the bright side of my current “problems” because there always is one if I choose to see.


by Karen Gaskell 

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