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the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

Gratitude. It’s a word bandied about in recovery circles, and it is most certainly a word that comes to mind when Thanksgiving rolls around. But what is gratitude, really? Thankfulness? Readiness to show appreciation and returning a kindness? Dunno. I think it’s much more than that. It is an attitude that is fostered which informs your actions and reactions to life. Because what do you really have control over but for your actions and reactions? Nothing. Gratitude understands that. And loves life anyway.

Gratitude isn’t just saying “Thank you.” Gratitude is acting in ways that you KNOW are giving back that which you couldn’t do for yourself. Gratitude is listening to the dry drunk in a meeting without judgement. It is wishing your co-worker well, when you really want to choke them. Gratitude is knowing that life is going to be “just fine,” even if you question it for a few frightening moments. It is experiencing the pleasure of giving yourself to someone who is acting and thinking “just like you” back in the day. Gratitude is loving yourself in the exact place that you are in this moment and not expecting anything more from life. It is knowing that life IS NOT FAIR and loving your life anyway.

Gratitude is acknowledging the simple pleasures in life. A warm bed. Food to eat. Transportation. Friends. Meetings to go to. A bath. Brushing your hair. Painting your fingernails. Riding a scooter in the cold wind. Raking the leaves. Cleaning your bathroom. It is knowing that you are just “okay” for the moment and that is enough. You can show your gratitude in all kinds of ways – giving back to the community, sponsoring people, giving money to causes you care about, opening the door for someone with a handful of kids and a stroller. But the best kind of gratitude you can show? Is living and loving your life. Just the way it is. At this moment. Attraction, not promotion? A life lived in gratitude doesn’t need any promotion. It is a living testament to how the 12 steps work. Foster gratitude. It is your only hope for happiness in this ever changing world.

Kate Zimmerman Alumnus #35

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