Having been a member of A/A I heard many quotes, sayings and some of the ‘rules for living good lives’. One of the sayings that stuck with me, and I try to remember this in all I do each day, was “live with an attitude of gratitude.” Well I tried it out and it was so difficult at first.
A/A spawns many different and successful stories of those who have overcome their demons–those who have managed to navigate the many potholes that lay in wait on their particular recovery journeys. I worked hard at it and I listened to those with greater wisdom. Something was working for those who were successful and I kept coming back to this saying-live with an attitude of gratitude.
So I started to look at life a bit differently and I began to live life a bit differently as a consequence. I began to see all the things in my life that I could be grateful for instead of looking for the things that I could complain about or that I could blame other people for. There was a time when I could see noting but the down side of things and I was angry and I felt entitled to things just because I had had such a horrible run of ‘bad luck’. It was MY TIME to get something good out of this hell hole called life. I deserved that much. Alas, it didn’t come to me that way. The more anger I felt the worse things got and the angrier I got the worse my life got. That’s how alcohol and drugs can get hold of you and they can suck every ounce of life out of you until there is nothing left.
The point here is that only when I began to acknowledge all of the wonderful things that I had to be grateful for did I begin to live my life with more peace, excitement and confidence. Things like reasonably good health, a mind that still had the capability to work, opportunity to re-define myself as a human being, a chance to go to school, the love of my children, to feel connected to life again, the pleasure of a warm breeze in my face, the amazing beauty around me to enjoy-for free, decent food to eat and a warm a safe place to live in, the support of good people who didn’t want anything from me other than to see me succeed at what I wanted to do and to be a part of the community I lived in. I was wealthy beyond my dreams and for all those years I didn’t see it or know it. I lived with little gratitude in my life.
Fast forward many years and I have been given a chance to be a part of other peoples change process–to do some good for others as a mentor and a counsellor. Most importantly for me is that I came to witness and appreciate the amazing contributions that seniors play in the course of family life as well as the life of the communities that we live in. It is a role that is not always seen or thought about by folks, especially family members, as being special. Often times there is little feeling of gratitude for their presence and contribution to society. Often times they are seen as a burden or a liability rather than the treasures they are.
Unfortunately my grandparents were basically strangers to me so I missed their intelligence and their world vision. They knew how to survive in hard times. I think about the great depression of ’29. They, somehow found ways to survive and went on to live productive lives and raise their families. Seniors figured out how to live simply yet fully. They learned how to share their gifts and their talents without expecting something in return. Some of those lessons were passed along to their children and in turn were passed along to my generation. When I pulled my head out of my backside I used some of those lessons to build my life back up from scratch. I’m grateful for that knowledge that somehow filtered down to me.
Many grandparents, today, have become 21st century parents. Their own kids have missed the opportunity to learn from their folks and have gone right to the entitlement stage of life and it is showing up with dreadful outcomes. Grandparents are now raising their children’s children. This should be their time to shine in the sun and instead they have taken on the responsibility of raising another family because they understand that in today’s world it takes a village to raise a family. I’m grateful to them for making that sacrifice but I wonder about the generation of parents that are ‘missing in action’–what are they thinking about and do they appreciate–really appreciate the opportunities that they have been presented. Do they live their lives and do they show that ‘attitude of gratitude’ that is certainly owed to their parents for bailing them out. I hope so. It is a much more enjoyable and less angry world to live in when we focus on all the things that we have to be grateful for than it is being angry and vengeful and calculating just to get ahead in a world that no longer measures people for who they are but rather for what they have.
Most only have one set of grandparents so be sure to treat them with the respect and the gratitude they so richly deserve.
Anyways, that’s how I see it. All the best, Jim
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