A gratitude list is not just another chore to put on your list of things to do and once it is done you scratch it off. A gratitude list is a practice to feel good after looking at the half-full part of the cup. The most important part of this practice is the feeling itself. When I write in my gratitude list, I do not focus on editing what I am writing or even communicating my writing to others. The only focus here is how I feel and how to change my feelings into better feelings. If I was able to get myself into a feeling of love, appreciation, gratitude, or even hope or content then I have reached my goal.
Most of the thoughts we think are not intentional thoughts, they just happen based on our past and the way we dealt with situations before. Making gratitude lists helps us change those old habits. Teaching ourselves to think positive and look for things that are positive is an art that is important to master.
To master this art, I try as much as I can to take even one moment before I sleep to think about things that make me feel good such as being clean and sober today, being responsible, appreciate my loved ones, my health, even the comfort of my bed. It is not important what is the object of attention, what is important is to be able to get myself into a good feeling place as frequently as possible, and remember the good things, rather than dwell on the bad. I am hoping with this practice to change my dominating thoughts into expanding, appreciative, loving thoughts.
What is addiction? We really don’t know. Each one of us may have a theory about the answer to this question. What makes a person after being sober for several years get back into full-blown alcoholism from one drink? What drives the addict to become a workaholic after being off drugs? For the purpose of this article, we don’t care what addiction is or where it originates from but we do care to know that addiction is a habit in the thoughts that when acting on them will not lead to satisfaction, rather leads to self-degradation, limitations, obsession, unmanageability and powerlessness. Some of us were able to identify addiction before even picking up a drink, a drug, a relationship or gambled. That mysterious disease does not go away just because we stopped our drug of choice. If that is all true, then addiction is some kind habitual thought-patterns that can stay with us long after we quit the thing that brought us down. Through journaling, sharing with others and working a twelve-step program, some of us are able to identify these misaligned behaviors. Some of us, on the other hand, do not even know that they are carrying that fatal disease.
Now, and after working our steps and fighting off the closest alligators to our boat, which was the main object of our addiction, we must continue working and never stop. We must practice new behaviors and new thought-patterns that work better in our lives today. We do have a choice to change our lives and we must start by changing our thoughts and our behaviors.
You deserve to feel good. Do not leave yourself to the old habits, you are becoming a new person now and therefore, you must create new thoughts that are in harmony with who you are now, not with who you were in the past.
Before going to sleep, work on your gratitude list. Take only a few moments to think of something you like, something you enjoy thinking about. This something can be imaginary, past or present, or you can think of someone or something you love, something that made you smile today; the most important part of this practice is to continue trying to pay the most attention to things you like or help you feel good. After you start doing this, you’ll notice a shift in the way you feel at other times of your day. Do this at anytime during the day when you find yourself dwelling on thoughts you do not feel good about, then you can stop for a moment to write in your gratitude list, or glance at one you’ve written before to remind yourself of the things that make you feel good. Writing will help you stay focused.
At www.twelvestepjournaling.com you can create an online profile and securely practice and access all of your work (publicly or privately) at any time or place you have internet access. We specifically designed it for you to safely keep track of your journals, intentions, and to use other recovery tools such as “Gratitude List” and “Serenity Worksheet, etc. It is free of charge. Of course you can use the good-old notebook and a pen if you wish, but with this service it is with you always, archived, and can never be lost or misplaced, and be easily shared with a sponsor, sponsee or support group, and with great security.
But the most important thing is to continue journaling, and working your steps. Make it a new habit: to think good thoughts more often and be consistent, it will get easier and easier. Do this for a month and notice the changes in your feelings, in your communications, and in your life.