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Whether you are in recovery from drug & alcohol addiction or not, gratitude can be elusive, misunderstood, and often times forgotten.


Are you unconsciously grateful?

For Recovering drug addicts and alcoholics, Gratitude is a vital bedrock to our recovery that sets forth a journey. However, whether you are sober (in recovery) or not, the thing about Gratitude? It can be elusive, or instead, we are the elusive ones. It can change form; our perspective can be obscured by a shrinking perception. (It) perception can even trick you into being one thing and making you think it’s something else. Our attachments to events and people can have us believing in falsities of the moment and temporal pleasures that we may deem as “gratifying.” Only to find these feelings superficial and as deep as rice-paper; conversely, I can find Gratitude in the little things (that are not ‘things’), they’re moments, and in those “times” that I once appreciated are no longer gratifying? I’m in trouble.

If you’re anything like me, the world in my eyes has been a paltry place; that’s because “my world” conjures fears, doubts, uncertainties, judgments, ominous voices, and like images that speak these feelings; and thoughts into existence. What an episode that can be. With this awareness? It’s incumbent upon me to manufacture an episodic gratitude-laden reality that I intend to demonstrate in an ongoing fashion.

The issue is not only the world itself; it’s “my world” mentality and attitude. Far too often, I’d associate Gratitude with what I have, whom I’m with, what I do, and how I feel, and comparing myself to those seemingly less fortunate than I. Most of us experience Gratitude with the same external cues, comparison analysis, and pleasure reliance; namely: we are grateful when things are going our way. This is not to say that there’s anything wrong with this prism; however, Gratitude that stands and lives on what I deem a tiny island, seen through a tunnel the size of a straw, will like a mirage, disappear as quickly as it appears. Gratitude designed and constructed on external contentment and differentiation alone is like building the Golden Gate bridge with Lincoln Logs; it won’t last through inclement circumstances.

Gratitude doesn’t have to be transient; what I suggest (starting with myself) is that it becomes a practice. The only way to master something is by practicing. What’s your routine? If Gratitude were an actual practice, whether by meditation, prayer, daily mantra, mindfulness, acts of grace for humankind? Might we have more peace within that would project toward others?

Gratitude based on humanness and living at this exact time, on being alive with a notion-awareness that I’m living among the living, breathing, conscious of being conscious begets knowing and appreciating as a terrestrial being that who is only alive for a limited time. What makes me human is what makes it possible for me to be humane. To take responsibility for just that…humanness.

I’m an organism made up of approximately 100 trillion cells, tens of thousands of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms. An estimated 30 million other living species are moving about on another organism named planet earth. We are spinning in space amongst an incalculable amount of stars, which may not have a beginning or an end in time. The enormity, the truth, the questioning of it all, has at times evoked elation, depression, excitement, and doom – propagating and raising the notion/question “What does it all mean?” The moments when I’ve been overcome with Gratitude is the very reason I’m writing this piece in the first place.

Can I be grateful while in great peril and tragedy? Despair? Misfortune? Uncertainty? …after relapse from drug addiction, contending with another trip to treatment, or losing a job, a friend, and a family member? Yes, because emotional maturity and gratitude consciousness enable one’s ability to be and remain grateful regardless of what life has in store. Life and death happen in this universe, and I’m not the center of it. Now it’s easy to espouse and preach such a philosophy to others; while not having viewed the world through their eyes, heard the world through their ears, and felt the world through their circumstances and emotional sensibilities. I possess my own experiences from which I draw and share, not with didacticism, but with an attempt at compassion, mindfulness, and resilience.

When I see amputees, maimed men and women, who have lost what many of us take for granted, or young children who are diagnosed with cancer, I’ve witnessed joy in their eyes and smiles on their faces. I see the humility, the beauty of humanity in its essence – and the genuine appreciation for what is – the significance, the preciousness of time itself, and just being alive. The bravery and acceptance of their circumstance to me are head-scratching and heart-pulling; I introspectively ask these two questions: What would I do? How would I act?

Does it seem as though those who appreciate life sometimes don’t get their full chance at it? Suffice to state: a life filled with genuine Gratitude is a life that shapes humanity. What shape are you in?


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Written by Billy Schreurs