Time to press pause and focus on what’s important in life. Unfortunately, that’s hard to do if you’re more concerned about your next drink, where to stash the booze and good stuff where nobody’s looking. That’s not my problem these days, but I remember them, and I’m extremely grateful to be over them, and to have found a passion for wellness.
Today, I’m grateful for every day I have to be alive and well with my family. But it took awhile before I realized 3 decisions that I’ve made that continue to result in gratefulness.
1. Deciding to forego drinking or using, admitting I needed help.
Taking that infamous “first step” comes for everyone. Before I did, I couldn’t honestly be grateful, unless it involved drinking. That’s what I thought. It ruled my life, until I wanted to relieve more pain with prescription drugs. Hey, I admit I’m no saint. I wasn’t interested in wellness, and my relationships suffered terribly. For me, it took my second trip to rehab before I honestly decided to forego drinking and using. In order to do that, I had to admit I needed help.
Fast forward nearly 10 years, and today I eternally grateful for sobriety. Now I’m always in a clear state of mind, and I can go through all the special occasions and related crises without a chemical in me. I’ve been through recovery, and now pursuing wellness, being physically fit, and putting the right gas inside me. It gives me strength and endurance so when, and they do come, tough times come, I draw on what I’ve been through and am ready for anything that’s thrown my way, good or bad. Bringing the experience of going through recovery, and now being passionate about pursuing wellness, now that’s a winning combination.
“I’m grateful to have my husband back, and with a clean mind. I’m glad to have my sons back, and can enjoy family time together,” my wife Robin said. “We know peace and harmony in the family now, with authentic connections. It’s a far cry from when our dysfunctions ripped our family apart. Now, love has come back, and we’re stronger than ever.”
2. Deciding to forgive others, including myself.
When I stopped blaming others, and started forgiving them, my world started to change. I’m grateful for the humility that addiction created in me, because now I can give others a break. Taking it step further, I can even extend grace, which is like giving forgiveness in advance. I know the healthy boundaries in our family, so I’m not suggesting to be a push-over, particularly when it comes to decision No. 1. Still, without a clear mind that’s been hijacked by addiction, forgiveness seems too expensive. But when thinking clearly, forgiveness can be the best investment you can make. It’s a decision based on your values. Today, the toughest person to forgive is myself. But, at least I don’t have to pour vodka down my gut to deal with my mistakes. Perhaps, the greatest benefit of forgiving others is the relief I feel. It no longer has a place in my life where it can fester and develop another terrible condition — bitterness. I can be nice without faking it. Now, I’m free from addiction, and free from the holding grudges. People are human, capable of amazing things on both sides of the fence. So, I choose to forgive the grudges. Besides, it’s a lot easier to be nice.
3. Deciding to focus on being grateful.
Gratefulness comes up annually, and yet it’s a daily act that serves up wonders. But it’s just as easy to focus on other things, whether it’s our devices, sports teams, relationships, financial struggles and virtually everything else other than being grateful.
Ever find it hard to answer the annual dinner discussion question, “What are you thankful for this year?” If so, you need to decide to focus on gratitude more often. How do I know that? Because the more I focus on being grateful, the easier it is to identify the millions of ways it is to be grateful.
What’s not to be grateful for? I know everyone has problems, even life and death situations, financial crunches, and brokenness. But instead of remaining in a cycle of pity, practice being grateful for one thing that matters to you right now. Can you think of one thing? Focus on that for a minute. Why are you grateful? How does that feel? Can we build from this feeling? Try again. I don’t care if it’s the air you breathe, you can find something to be grateful for. It’s just a decision to focus on them.
The best thing that comes from being grateful is it’s easier to show kindness and respect to others. They go hand-in-hand. Gratefulness breeds goodness and love.
Lastly, don’t take the “I” out of the “picture.” Gratefulness comes much easier when you’re good to yourself. Whether it’s a massage, hike or just solitary moment, take time to find some quietness and recharge. Forego drinking, forgive others, and focus on what you’re grateful for. It’s worth it.