Monthly Article: November 2009, The Good Ole’ Gratitude List and How to Write a Better One

You can also find this article, along with it’s accompanying video, here: RECOVERYTODAY.NET
xoxo, BagheadSponsor
The Good Ole’ Gratitude List and How to Write a Better One
By BagheadSponsor (Host of the clean and sober video blog:

Here’s a question: How many gratitude lists have you written in your recovery? And how many times have you suggested that same list-writing exercise to others? I assert that the answer is MANY– if not many, many. I also assert that the reason we continue the tradition and encourage our fellows to do the same, is because it works. And you know what they say, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” A list of things to be grateful for is a solid tool. Lets keep using it.

And because it is November, which is a month centered around abundance and thanksgiving, lets consider the possibility of expanding the benefits of this tool that works so well, shall we? Lets get wild, turkeys!

When I cleaned up and started my journey of recovery, an assigned gratitude list offered a divine interruption in my pattern of thinking. For an estimated two to four minutes, my thoughts would be diverted from my own misery and become focused on my gratitude. I would begrudgingly scribble down my short list: My recovery. My cat. My sponsor. My house. (And that’s on a good day, giblets.)

In the beginning and left to my own devices, my own thinking most invariably consisted of myriad versions of these basic questions: “How am I supposed to stay sober with this pile of crap life? How come these lame things happened to me? How am I ever going to get anywhere in life, when I’m so far behind? What’s wrong with me? Why doesn’t anything ever just work out for me? Why don’t I have what I want? Why don’t I have what they have? Why do I have to work so hard just to keep myself sane? Why do I always have to be the one to do the right thing, when they are the ones who are wrong? Why is life so difficult for me and so much easier for them?”

Good gizzards! You probably wouldn’t be able tell if you haven’t seen the show, but it took me a few years to get my head out of my own stuffing. As fun and entertaining as that was, there are a few things that could be changed about the questions I was asking myself/God/my sponsor (may God bless her.) The self-centered desperation and hopelessness inherent in those questions is pretty overwhelming, to say the least.

I don’t care if you’re a Pilgrim or an Indian, you’re not going to get a decent answer for yourself out of those kinds of questions. Which clucks the question: What if I asked myself different questions? What if I started asking myself questions that had built-in faith or gratitude, rather than built-in cynicism and resignation? The questions might sound a little more like this:

“What am I most grateful for right now in this moment? (ie: the trusty gratitude list.)
What can I do today to contribute joy or peace to the life of another?
Assuming there is a Higher Power I can rely on, what can I do today that wasn’t possible before I got clean and sober?
What’s one beautiful thing about my surroundings?
What part of my life brings me the most joy or sense of appreciation?
What am I looking forward to today?
How can I be of maximum service today in some small way?
How can I be a true friend/great mom/dad/wonderful employee today?
What do I appreciate most about my relationship with X or Y person?
What small step can I take today in the direction of my own fulfillment or recovery?
Who can I help today?
What is one of my greatest character traits?
How can I allow that character trait benefit others?
If I did believe in a Higher Power that cares for me, what could I let go of?
Would I let go of it? When?
What can I do to have fun and be myself today?”

Sugar and spice and everything nice! See, I’ve proven to myself that my own mind is an inquisitive one and that I will always be asking questions—“should I do this? should I do that? what if this? what if that?” So it makes sense that if I ask questions that support my recovery, and get as detailed with them as I would about the disempowering questions, it’s bound to improve my experience of life. It’s easy as Pumpkin Pie! Personally, I do my best to incorporate a few good questions like these in my daily inventory. This practice helps me to stay on track with my work and my relationships.

Holy Mayflower, it’s time to wrap it up and plug the show! I hope you’ll join us on for some ridiculous recovery videos, including one of our favorites: Don’t Knit In Meetings. It’s a hit! Until next time… Do the next right thing, take it easy, and whatever you do– don’t drink, drug, or try to off yourself. Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Xoxo, BagheadSponsor
Saving lives. One episode at a time.

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