Finding Gratitude in the Small Things

Sometimes I have troubles remembering just how hard things were for me when I was loaded. In sobriety I have been granted all of the things I would have given anything to obtain before. My life is much better, and it seems to get better day by day. But, no matter how good things get, life can still find a way to be difficult. When a curve ball gets thrown in my direction it’s easy for me to overlook what I had been through, and just how lucky I am today.

The story of my sobriety began two years ago in a sober living in Torrance, California. When I arrived at the sober living I had a dark cloud looming over me all the time, and I had a belief that life would only get worse from there. The managers and members of New Life House told to get a sponsor to walk me through the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. They assured me that by getting a sponsor and becoming a working member of Alcoholics Anonymous, I would stay sober and live a happy life. I honestly was pretty surprised by that… When I first arrived, I was hoping that I would stay sober by just living in a sober living. I had no idea how much hard work, and time would go into recovering from alcoholism. My plan was reside in the “bubble”, away from the outside world, and simply not pick up a drink.

After a month or two I finally decided on a sponsor. He was a very spiritual guy who always had a smile on his face. I figured that he would be perfect, because I was probably the most negative human being I had ever met up until that point. He was always calm every time I saw him, and no matter how many negative things I would tell him, he always responded with a smile or a laugh. I would literally sit down with him and rant on for about 30 minutes or so about all the people that annoyed me, the things that made me angry, and why the world is a terrible place. When I finally thought that I had given him enough evidence as to why I deserve pity, I would stop talking. He would just look back at me and say: “ahhh, first world problems…” This used to really annoy me. But, no matter how many times that happened, and how annoyed I got, I still wanted what he had. Life always seemed like a huge inconvenience to me that was full of obstacles and hardships. What I didn’t realize is that I was the one making it that way.

My sponsor eventually gave me an assignment to point out the spiritual experiences I had day to day. At first they were hard to notice, but as time passed I became a bit more aware of the small blessings that presented themselves to me. It became easier to see that life wasn’t as bleak as I had always thought it was. I had gotten used to seeing myself living in a dark, cold world. That was just the world I made for myself as I was drinking and using. In truth, my higher power throws in small blessings and spiritual hints on the daily; I was just too unaware to see it.

The managers of the sober living were also able to catch on to how negative I was at the time, so they put me on a “positivity program”. It was program in which every member of the house had to approach me with a negative statement, and I had to offer a positive response. An example would be that someone would walk up and say “I hardly slept at all last night… I just kept rolling around in my bed.” To which I would reply, “at least you have a bed to roll around in, and a roof over your head.” I really loved being able to throw one of those out there. At first I didn’t realize that the program was actually increasing my mood the more I did it. Eventually I was able to recognize the lasting effect it was having on my psyche, and how much my attitude was starting to change on the daily.

Between the program, and following my sponsors direction I really learned a lot about myself. I noticed how flawed my way of thinking was, and how grateful I should be for a second chance at life. Of course, it was a long road, and I had to work out a lot of kinks along the way. But, I eventually figured out how to focus, and hone my senses to be aware of the beautiful things in life… What I discovered is that anything in life can be a message from God. No matter how hard things can get, it all happens to help me grow. I have an amazing life now, and it wouldn’t have gotten to be this way if I hadn’t seen the hard times as well. The good days would go unnoticed if there weren’t bad days sprinkled in between.

Now that I am out of the house I am able to really feel the good and the bad days. But, I am able to realize that everything happens for a reason. There will always be situations in my life that are out of my control, but it’s up to me to take what I have learned and find the beauty in them. It’s through acceptance that I manage to make the bad days pass faster, so I can save my energy for the good days that follow. When I maintain that attitude, my life seems to improve rather than stagnate. Life is a beautiful thing when I remain in a constant state of gratitude.

-Anthony B., New Life House alumni

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