When All Else Fails… Gratitude

Mar 5, 2024

Gratitude Blog Graphic

One of my pet peeves is when someone starts off a blog post by stating the definition of a word to set up an anecdote.

My apologies in advance.

Webster’s online dictionary defines the word gratitude as, “the state of being grateful: THANKFULNESS.”

When I was newly sober and not exactly feeling like my best self, I was having a tough time feeling thankful or grateful for anything.

Who could blame me?

I had just recently hit bottom. I was experiencing feelings of guilt and shame. My self-worth was at an all time low and on top of it all, I was freaking out about the prospect of never again being able to have another drink.

I just started attending 12-step meetings and I had decided to start taking some of the suggestions that were being given to me.

One of the suggestions came from a nice man that I happened to corner after a meeting.

After listening to me regurgitate about everything that was not going my way, he looked at me with a wry smile and said, “Have you ever made a gratitude list?”

Webster’s online dictionary defines a wry smile as, “made by a deliberate distortion of the facial muscles often to express irony or mockery.”

Again, my apologies.

Because the concept of gratitude was the furthest thing from my mind, I did not hesitate when I replied, “no.”

He looked at me with an even wider wry smile and said, “why don’t you try and make one?”

This is how the site kidshealth.org defines gratitude: “Gratitude is when you feel thankful for the good things in your life. This could be stuff people often take for granted, like having a place to live, food, clean water, friends, and family. Gratitude is taking a moment to reflect on how lucky you are when something good happens, whether it’s big or small.”


So, I made a gratitude list of my own and the very act of writing the list was extremely cathartic for me.

The Cambridge online dictionary defines the word cathartic as, “Involving the release of strong emotions through a particular activity or experience.”

Again, apologies. I promise that was the last one.

After almost 14 years in recovery, I still find it helpful to write a gratitude list every now and then. In good times or bad. For me, it helps me gain perspective on things that I might be struggling with.

Recovery gave me a chance to start over and it continues to give me the opportunity to live a dignified and meaningful life. On most days, it is a life filled with gratitude. But when I am not feeling my best or I feel like things are not going my way, I find a pen and paper, or I take out my phone and text myself a gratitude list and it usually does the trick.

What are you grateful for today?