September 6: Gratitude

“My relationship is on the rocks. My finances could be a lot better. And this house I live in, well it’s the worst. Wouldn’t I be happier somewhere else? Let me think, where would that magical place of happiness be? One thing’s for sure. It’s not where I am.”

Can you hear yourself in these words? It is easy to look around and see all that is wrong. Life can be irritating, less than we hoped for, and sometimes it really hurts.

“I want something,” a woman said to me one day. “I just don’t know what it is. But one thing I do know is I don’t have it right now”

The grass is always greener on the other side is an old cliché, but it isn’t true. The grass right where you are, no matter where that place is, is just as green as it is anywhere else. And if it’s not green or it’s all dried up, maybe it’s because you’re not watering it enough.

Those moments that surpass our wildest expectations are fleeting and rare. People, places, and circumstances that don’t measure up to our hopes abound. Learning to want what you have and be where you are is an art. So is learning how to get to wherever you’re going to.

Here’s the secret. You’re a magician, a wizard. You can turn present situations into something better.

Point your magic wand. Now say “thank you” for everything exactly as it is.

People tell us to count our blessings. The problem is, when we’re depressed, we don’t feel blessed. Learning an attitude of gratitude takes practice and effort. It’s the key to being happy in whatever circumstances we find our— selves in.

Value: Whet her we call it a feeling, an attitude, or an action we take, gratitude is the value we’ll look at and practice this week.

September 5: Gratitude for the Negatives

A friend called in a cynical mood. He was disgusted with his job and his less-than-ideal house.

“I want you to do something,” I said. “Practice being grateful for everything you don’t like every day, five times a day, for the next month. Force it. Fake it. Do whatever you have to. But you’ve been practicing misery about these same things for the past three years. That hasn’t worked. Why not give gratitude a try?”

He was reluctant. I told him a story from my life. The first house I ever bought was decrepit, falling apart. Holes went clear through to the outside. I didn’t know how to fix it up. For the first three months I lived there, I went downstairs each night after putting my daughter to bed, sat in the middle of the ugly living room, and complained and cried. The situation didn’t improve. I decided to try something else. I began practicing gratitude instead. I said, “Thank you for this house, the holes in the walls, and the way I feel.” Thank you became a meditative chant, Over the next nine months, I started fixing up that house, and it turned into the most beautiful home on the block. Thirty years later, I still remember it as my favorite house. Perspective is a strange thing. It wasn’t just about transforming that house. Going through that experience gave me an opportunity to see for myself that gratitude works.

Inventory Focus: Have you been practicing misery? How’s that working? Have you learned about the power of gratitude yet? Are you willing to give it a try?

September 4: Gratitude as an Acknowledgement

Gratitude isn’t a tool to manipulate the Universe or God. It’s a way to acknowledge our faith that everything happens for a reason even if we don’t know what that reason is.

Action: Just say thanks for everything. Make a gratitude box. On slips of paper, write about everything you consider a blessing and everything you feel miserable about. Then regularly take the slips out and thank God for what’s on that slip. Or hold the whole box in your hands and be grateful for all of it, all at once.

September 3: Pain as a Motivator

Sometimes I feel as if life is prodding me, poking me, pushing me. It hurts sometimes. But then I think, “Oh, I get it, I’m not supposed to ignore the pain. Pain can motivate me to change.

Prayer: Guide me into taking the actions you want me to take.

September 2: HOW to Change

“How do I change?” a woman asked her friend. “HOW” the friend replied.

“Yes, that’s what I’m asking. How do I change?”

“I told you,” her friend said. “HOW is how you change. Honesty Openness.-Willingness to try.”

HOW isn’t new. It’s not groundbreaking. But some— times the best road to take is ground that’s been trod.

A friend called one day when I was struggling to take an action in my life that just wasn’t coming together. “Are you willing to try?” she asked.

“Right now I’m working on wanting to want to,” I said. “That’s the best I can do.”

Inventory Focus: Are you willing to take actions, small baby steps, even when those steps frel awkward and uncomfortable? If you ‘re not willing to take action to change, are you at least willing to become willing? That’s an action too. Willingness is a prerequisite to receive the power to act.

September 1: Acting As If

Acting as if  is another recovery truism that’s been around for a long time. I still use it regularly in my life.

I know people who are not in recovery athletes, performers, artists -who use the technique too.

All it means is that if it’s time to act, we do— whether taking that action feels comfortable or not. Instead of doing nothing, or waiting for confidence, success, or inspiration to overtake and motivate us first, we go ahead and move forward with an action anyway and let the good feelings catch up to us. We act as if the desired change has already taken place.

Action: “I didn‘t pay my bills because I didn‘t have enough money to pay them off in full,” a man told me. “I had to learn that I could make payments and pay off the whole bill by paying a little at a time.”
Sometimes you can sabotage yourself by trying to do too much at once. If you can’t stop drinking or using drugs by yourself
are you willing to ask for help? If you can’t accept everything about your life in one fell swoop, are you willing to accept where you are and how you feel today? If you can ‘t forgive someone, are you willing to start praying for that person and let go of the resentment you feel? Break whatever you are trying to do into small steps. Then take the first step first.

August 31:Getting Uncomfortable

We all like to feel comfortable. But doing something new, especially taking an action to change, usually doesn’t feel comfortable. It feels awkward and strange.

Sometimes depression and anxiety can block us from taking the actions we want and need to take. Not taking these actions can increase our depression and anxiety, and we feel even less motivated to act. This cycle can keep us trapped.

If depression and anxiety are so severe they’re stopping you from taking actions to live your life, you may need to seek professional help and get those issues under control. That in itself is taking action.

Challenge: The hardest thing about taking positive steps to change can be having enough hope to believe that what we do matters and the steps we take will work.