Grateful by default

Life changed amazingly when gratitude increasingly became my default thinking, feeling, and behaving.

While I am still growing in this area, I am more often grateful today than I was months ago and years ago.

One small but powerful strategy I picked up to help implement gratitude into my thinking, particularly in the morning, is to with each step, say “thank”, then “you”.  Left foot – thank.  Right foot – you.  Sounds silly at first.  But think about it.  Most of us have two feet and walk daily.  So there are tremendous opportunities for us to use this as a reminder at any time of the day.

The suggestion as it was made to me was to first thing in the morning, when the first of my two feet hit the floor out of bed, say “thank”.  Then when the second foot hit the floor, say “you”.  This way, I have a physical reminder to start my day with gratitude.

I began then making sure that as I walked to the coffee pot which had automatically brewed just before I got up, I would say with each step, “thank, you, thank, you”.  I then took the suggestion further, by not only speaking the words, but actually finding things to be grateful for then feeling the feelings of gratitude and letting them sink deep into my heart.  Not just say, but actually feel gratitude.

I found so many things to be grateful for.  Starting with a home to walk through, a wife to wake up beside, a coffee pot to welcome me with the smell of fresh brewed morning coffee.  A warm shower, a vehicle in the driveway, a job to go to, my health to let me work. 

It is widely recognized that few, if any, of us can think of more than one thing at a time.  I know I can’t.  So if my mind is full of gratitude, I simply cannot think of negative things.  They are mutually exclusive.

There was a time in my life when for years, every morning began with thoughts of suicide.  It isn’t that way any more.  Gratitude nudges those thoughts out.  And if I feel any negativity creeping up, I just start walking and focusing on what I am grateful for.  Left/right/left/right  thank/you/thank/you.  That simple.

Sounds almost too simple.  But it works.

Ciao.

Chaz

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About Chaz

Husband, father, brother, son, friend. Sober member of AA. Grateful for the life God gave me and for the happy struggle of recovery.
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17 Responses to Grateful by default

  1. kloppenmum says:

    I agree, that’s a great strategy: and one which is simple enough to incorporate each day. I’ll try it tomorrow. Thanks.

    • Chaz says:

      Hi K…. glad you found it helpful. I snickered when it was first suggested to me, but learned that this is often the wrapper many good suggestions come in.

      Ciao.

      Chaz

  2. So-and-so says:

    Thanks for the reminder to be grateful – it’s so easy to forget and become caught up in other things. I feel better after having read your post 🙂

    • Chaz says:

      Hi So & So! Good to hear from you!

      Yes, it is very easy to forget. Have forgotten it myself and had to re-integrate. But the power is still in it. Used it this morning in fact to help get up extra early to go to a very inspiring meeting.

      Will cruise by your site…. Ciao. Chaz

  3. Punch says:

    Chaz – I have taken solace from your journey. Our stories have tremendous parallels, which I think is the very point of it all, that we are not alone in where we’ve been in our paths, even though you feel it so much. I am very early days in my transformation, but your movement to gratitude and positivity gives me some hope. That you used this type of medium to lend voice to your inner silence really helps me feel that I’ve made some good choices since the catastrophes that got me here.

    Punch
    http://foodforablackdog.blogspot.com/

    • Chaz says:

      Hey Punch! So glad that what I am able to pass along is a blessing to you and others. I freely received it, so I feely pass it along. Yes, this is how our journeys often work. And we do travel in amazingly parallel paths. This too is part of the power of the journey we walk. We hear our own story from others. And find strength and hope in the fact that they made it to a better place. We then have more to believe in for ourselves.

      Will pop by your site.

      Ciao.

      Chaz

  4. Chaz,

    I am grateful that you no longer think of suicide! Thank you for sharing your gratitude strategy; gratitude is not an integral part of my consciousness as it is for you. One thing to be grateful that you didn’t mention is your ability to walk. I use to take so many things for granted, both big and small. But after open-heart surgery, almost two years ago, I could not get out of bed to go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, or shower, and I temporarily lost the appetite I had bemoaned most of my life. How grateful I am today to independently do my activities of daily living. Brushing my teeth is a privilege, as is having teeth when my sister and friend lost theirs.

    With gratitude,

    Convergingheart

    • Chaz says:

      Hey Convergingheart! Yes, the ability to walk is most certainly something to be grateful for. I have had some major surgeries to my knee that threatened my ability to walk and be active. Gladly and gratefully, I have recovered.

      I used to be an avid skiier, but had to give that up. Well, perhaps better said trade it in or trade it up for what I can do. I guess I traded it up for the experience of overcoming a let-down.

      Glad to hear you experienced similar.

      Ciao.

      Chaz

  5. I like that a lot… it’s very similar to the way I pray. I wake up with “please,” and go to bed with “thank you.”

    • Chaz says:

      Hi Ben…. yes, great idea. Great way to book-end the day with please and thank you. We should never minimize the value of these simple positives.

      Ciao.

      Chaz

  6. kweenmama says:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I will enjoy reading your blog as you journey forward. One thing that has helped me feel gratitude each day is writing one or two things I am grateful for in my journal in the morning. It is always the beginning of each entry…before I write about anything else. It helps me keep focused on the good things in my life.

    • Chaz says:

      Thanks Kweenmama… “early” and “first thing” seem to be consistent themes for many of us weaving more gratitude into our day and thinking. Sets a great precedent for the day.

  7. jeremy says:

    Gratitude … Something most of us take for granted and snicker at when it is mentioned in a meeting. That is the default topic when you don’t have one. Today we talked about the “WE” in step one.

    I like that step meditation about gratitude. I usually start the day with a “please” and end my day with “thank you.” And we walk a lot here in the city. I will see how that works for me tomorrow.

    It is Winter and it seems lately that folks are flirting with the dark side, I heard a member with a lot of time talk about flirting with suicide tonight. It was cathartic. People are struggling, at least they are coming to meetings.

    Jeremy

    I am enjoying your topical posts. Good food for thought.

    • Chaz says:

      Hi Jeremy…. always a pleasure to hear from you (eh?).

      Yes, the topic of gratitude does become almost plain vanilla in meetings. I believe this is the work of our unhealthy, less recovered part of our thinking. Telling us that this is old, worn out dish rag of a topic. Bland with no power. We’ve heard it all.

      I know I thought that way about the steps and sayings in the rooms. Even the serenity prayer to me was some antiquaited sentiment old people embroidered on pillows and wall hangings or printed on plates and clocks mounted on the wall (laquered of course).

      Then one day, in desperation, I prayed it like I meant it because I had no serenity and the things I couldnt change were killing me. Or rather I was killing myself trying to change things I would never be able to. Then poof! Like a flashbulb I saw the meaning in the serenity prayer. And the power.

      Same for gratitude. When we learn the unlock the absolute power of gratitude, we can walk through the valley of the shadow of death like never before. I find then that I am not preoccupied with the fears and noise in my head when I am being grateful. Not just saying, but living and thereby feeling gratitude.

      This to me is a form of worship of God that feels organically authentic. Not singing a song or reciting a prayer that someone else wrote. But a deep heartfelt, full-body participation gratfefulness expressed in doing, not just saying. Man, I tell ya, when I discovered this a few years ago, life changed completely.

      Thanks for popping by. Always enjoy seeing you on the blogs.

      Chaz

  8. Tom Raines says:

    I am with you Chaz! Gratitude has been huge in my recovery. I like your physical reminder and will try it out. I think the physical actions are critical. I know when first told to hit my knees I thought that was figurative. However once I began hitting my knees every morning to thank God for keeping me sober and asking Him to keep me sober today my life has changed and is now overwhelmed with gratitude and praise! Great post!

    • Chaz says:

      Hey Tom…. I often go back to the walking and thanking thing. Even just for a few steps. If I am rushing around, it just helps me remember given that I am walking anyway.

  9. snake game says:

    This really answered my downside, thanks!

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