I learned today that November is National Gratitude Month. Given that this month includes Thanksgiving, it makes sense; I just never knew it was a thing. Now, to be fair, November is also National Banana Pudding Lover’s month. I’m guessing the criteria for getting something declared must not be very high, but I use the buffet approach – I take what I like and leave the rest.

Gratitude is akin to drinking water, exercising and eating healthy. It’s something we all know to do and yet often fail to do. When our lives/circumstances remain unchanged for a period of time, we come to see what’s in our lives as normal, which means we’ll stop thinking much about it. We take so much for granted when in truth, we always have things to be grateful for.

It’s amazing to me how so many of our choices are designed to maintain our status quo – even when things suck. We are people who fear change and transition. We are insatiable yet we settle for much less than we can have. Our default decisions are always either shame or fear-based (or both).

There’s an adage in AA that, “All I ever wanted was a little more than I’ve ever had.” We tend to have a strong awareness in recovery of what we crave, but varying degrees of mindfulness regarding what we need. Gratitude helps me get everything I need and a lot of experiences and relationships that are far better than anything I think I want.

Gratitude enhances my connection to a Higher Power. Taking things for granted is not what the Universe would have me do and so I am given lots of reminders to be grateful.

I meet with people every day who have lost everything. I serve people currently who are battling cancer and other terminal illnesses. They take nothing for granted because they are faced with their own mortality. They have a greater appreciation for health and time than I do.

I serve people who are poor. I’m amazed by their resilience and generosity. I am reminded that for ten years, my family and I were working-class poor. It was more than twenty years ago, so I don’t think about it all that often. Sometimes I consider what my younger self would say to me about my attitude today. He’d be glad I rose above my circumstances but he’d assuredly remind me of just how good I have it.

I am inspired and I am grateful. What remains is a responsibility to integrate these lessons. To do so will be to more fully experience living and becoming the person I most want to be. Failing to do this means I will relearn the lessons. I reconcile myself that either way, I will go to my knees. Today, I try to go there voluntarily.

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Published by Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre is an addictions and trauma recovery expert. He is the cofounder of Sobernow.com. Jim invites your comments and questions: [email protected]