The Power of Gratitude

Is “an attitude of gratitude” a clever little ditty or is it in fact a life strategy?
It seems each year around my birthday I am reminded of those dark times, when:

  • all seems lost
  • anger engulfs my being
  • resentment is unconquerable
  • loneliness is my only companion

When I hit bottom at age 36 it seemed like I’d pretty much used up all of life’s good will.  AA was for me the “Court of Last Resort.”  If you had asked me for what I was grateful,  I would have answered ~ nothing ~ absolutely nothing!

I didn’t necessarily think life was over, just the party.

Then whammo!  On June 14, 1985 everything changed forever when I walked into an AA meeting and was met with this: “Friday Night Attitude of Gratitude.”

When I walked through those doors I was one big mass of disappointment with no tinge of gratitude.  It is hard for me to express how profoundly sad I was to announce to a group of strangers, “My name is Pat and I’m an alcoholic.”

This surrender came to me as positively the worst thing I could have imagined.  How could it be that I was so completely ground to dust that the only identity I could claim with certainty was that of an alcoholic?  What happened to the man who was going to:

  • take life and shake it by the tail and dance?
  • change the world and make it a better place for mankind?
  • move mountains and do great things?

Then a guy at the meeting whacked me upside my head with this Mark Twain observation:                    

Aaron had lost everything: his career, his family, his home and almost his very sanity.  But he did not lose his life and with his life he found his way back into the real world and with that a sense of deep gratitude.  He told me that Gratitude:

  • is not a feeling
  • is not an opinion
  • is not whimsical

Gratitude is a dispositional attitude forged as a decision. 

A decision that aligns an individual’s thinking with that of the universe where “All that is, is good.”  This decision would have profound implications for me.  From then on, I would be on a journey of:

  • No picking my own reality
  • No moaning over lost opportunities
  • No reconstructing my Humpty Dumpty life

As a life strategy, it has worked pretty well.

Cicero was right!  Gratitude has been the parent of all that has followed in my life.  When I remember to choose an attitude of gratitude, my life is filled with “enough!”

Just A Thought…