The Power of Gratitude
I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” — Gilbert K. Chesterton
One of the most powerful tools I have ever used in any level of emotional healing and recovery has been the amazing tools of Gratitude. There is no doubt that I am one of the most grateful people on the planet. I will find a moment of gratitude in some of the worst conditions of life.
There is power in finding something in the worst of conditions to say thank you for. I remember moments in my life when I was in financial struggles and found myself sitting in the dark with candles because I couldn’t afford to pay my light bill. I would say thank you God because at least I have a roof over my head right now and though I am in this situation I know things could be worse. I then found myself not having a roof over my head for a short moment and had to sleep in my car. I remember saying at that time; thank you God at least I have a car to sleep in. I don’t know how the power of this type of gratitude works but what I have found is that each time I found myself in a situation that most people would scoff of the idea of being grateful for, somehow things opened up for me in a much bigger and better way.
As a small child I would see my Great-grandmother rubbing her knees in pain but at the same time, she would say thank you, God, at least I can feel the pain. I never knew the power in that until much later on when my brother was shot and paralyzed and couldn’t feel his body. At least she could feel the pain. I remember moments in my life that I have said the same thing about the pain in my own body because I now understand that not only could things be worse, but the universe has a way of opening things up for me when I have gratitude for what is already in my midst.
Being grateful in times of struggle has been the first step out of some of my deepest struggles of life. It invokes a ray of light and hope in the darkest spaces of my existence and allows me to see that all is not lost. Gratitude has open doors of serendipitous moments in my life where the people around me who witness my conditions before are baffled at how I tend to come out. Gratitude is a powerful tool to climb out of the deepest pits of life. It is really easy to stop and be grateful when things are going well in your life and I find that it is important to do that. However, when life is overwhelming me, and I feel that I am being hit on every side, gratitude is sometimes one of the most powerful tools I use as a way out. I generally stop in the midst of the situation and assess what I have versus what I don’t have. If I can’t say anything more than Thank you, Creator, that I still have the breath of life inside of me that is gratitude. The universe can work with that to help pull me out.
Gratitude for me is a declaration that my Creator hasn’t abandoned me and whatever this condition is that is a hindrance for me is not going to stop my will to live, overcome and thrive. It has been the place from which much of my resilience has sprung forth within me. Finding the things around me to be grateful for opened doors for so many other things to come that I could be grateful for.
“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” — Willie Nelson”
In addition to being grateful for what is in front of me at the moment, I have also learned to be grateful in advance for that which I want to see in my future. This form of gratitude sets up a mental space to call into existence what I want to see in my life. In essence, I use gratitude to speak into existence the things I want to see. When my mind is focused on the good things that still exist in the midst of the bad, and is focused on where I am planning to be after I come out of the unpleasant situation, it doesn’t have as much time to dwell on the negative issues around me. It is taking that energy and life force in me to feed the positive and starve the negative.
I walk in gratitude every single day whether I see it as a good day or not. It is a gift to live a life of gratitude and it has served me well in every aspect of my healing journey and throughout life. To choose gratitude is to choose life.
“On this day I am aware of the wonderful gifts that appear when I need them. I am grateful for the opportunities they present for personal growth.”
–Strengthening My Recovery: Meditations for Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families
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