The line

Gratitude List 23/01/2019

Today I am grateful for poems like this…

Every minute someone leaves this world behind.

Age has nothing to do with it.

We are all in this the line without realizing it.

We never know how many people are before us. We can not move to the back of the line.

We can not step out of the line.

We can not avoid the line.

So while we wait in line –

Make moments count.

Make a difference.

Make the call.

Make priorities.

Make the time.

Make your gifts known.

Make a nobody feel like a somebody.

Make your voice heard.

Make the small things big.

Make someone smile.

Make the change.

Make yourself a priority.

Make love.

Make up.

Make peace.

Make sure to tell your people they are loved.

Make waves.

Make sure to have no regrets.

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Less vulnerable

Gratitude List 22/01/2019

When I look back at the person I once was, it’s not surprising I did some of the things I did. I was riddled with defects – dishonesty, resentment, fear, intolerance, discontentment, courseness, irritability, lustfulness, laziness, arrogance, impatience, selfishness, self-centeredness etc etc etc the list goes on and on. Of course I had strengths of character too, but they were overwhelmed by the defects that were being empowered by my ego and controlled by my self-will. As a result I was very vulnerable to a number of negative reactions.

Through working the recovery program I have learnt how to lessen my defects and strengthen my strengths. Through practicing the principles in my daily life, having faith in a greater power and completing some simple suggestions I gain spirituality. I am improving as a person and that spirituality surrounds me like an invisible forcefield. This, along with the strengths of character that now play a more significant role in my life, I am less vulnerable to my negative reactions that more often than not, used to harm me and others.

Today I am grateful I am less vulnerable to relapsing.

Today I am grateful I am less vulnerable to unnecessarily snapping at my kids.

Today I am grateful I am less vulnerable to telling a lie.

Today I am grateful I am less vulnerable to people pleasing.

Today I am grateful I am less vulnerable to fear and resentment.

Today I am grateful I am less vulnerable to being arrested for a dishonest act.

Today I am grateful I am less vulnerable to acting out on my lustful thoughts.

Today I am grateful I am less vulnerable to living on the streets.

Today I am grateful I am less vulnerable to going insane.

Today I am grateful I am less vulnerable to self harm or suicide.

The last couple of years in recovery have proven I cannot take my foot off the pedal in terms of my recovery. If I do I simply become vulnerable to all of the above and I do not want any of them anymore!

Morals

Gratitude List 21/01/2019

Morals – ‘standards of behaviour; principles of right and wrong.’

I once lived very few morals. Its not like I purposely went about life without them, it was more a case of having very little awareness. Going through the ‘Who Am I?’ book educated me. It taught me about the strengths and defects of character I possess and the morals behind them.

I am not a Saint nor will I ever be, but when I practice good morals, it makes me feel good, and when I act with bad morals it makes me feel bad. It’s as simple as that. So knowing what I should be doing and what I shouldn’t hugely benefits my recovery.

Today I am grateful I am aware it’s morally right to love. Thanks to this awareness I strive to express love as much as possible and forgive as soon as I can.

Today I am grateful I am aware it’s morally wrong to gossip and talk behind someone’s back. Thanks to this awareness I strive to not partake.

Today I am grateful I am aware it’s morally right to see the good in people. Thanks to this awareness I will remind myself when I’m only seeing the bad.

Today I am grateful I am aware it’s morally wrong to act like a complete hooligan when watching football. Thanks to this awareness I strive to just enjoy the beautiful game.

Today I am grateful I am aware it’s morally right to be tolerant. Thanks to this awareness I strive to take a deep breath, remain calm and let it go.

Today I am grateful I am aware it’s morally wrong to watch pornography and look at women in a lustful way in the street. Thanks to this awareness I strive to treat women with more respect.

Today I am grateful I am aware it’s morally right to be honest. Thanks to this awareness I strive to tell the truth, be sincere and omit nothing.

Today I am grateful I am aware it’s morally wrong to blame and judge people. Thanks to this awareness I strive to remain humble and accept people for who they are.

Today I am grateful I am aware it’s morally right to show gratitude towards the things I have. Thanks to this awareness I strive to expect nothing.

My reactions

Gratitude List 20/01/2019

How I react to life determines the effect it has on me. At this very moment, things are occurring and I am reacting. My reactions are determining my current emotions.

Today I am grateful I react to things that could scare me by facing those fears, writing and sharing about them, action and prayer.

Today I am grateful I react to things that lead to projection and thinking the worse by practicing mindfulness and gratitude.

Today I am grateful I react to things that worry me by accepting the things I cannot change.

Today I am grateful I react to things that cause resentment by looking at the harm its caused me, where I was to blame and some action.

Today I am grateful I react to things that cause me pain by remaining humble and using my courage to seek help and guidance.

Today I am grateful I react to things that stress me out by taking a deep breath, staying calm and reminding myself of the serenity prayer.

Today I am grateful I react to things I want to procrastinate by just doing them and remembering how good it feels when I do and how bad it feels when I don’t.

Today I am grateful I react to things that tempt me by connecting with a power that is greater than me and doing something I know will strengthen that connection.

Today I am grateful I react to things that could lead to self pity by looking around at what I have and where I have come from.

Lifestyle and habit

Gratitude List 18/01/2019

Habit – ‘A settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.’

Through recovery’s design for life my regular ‘tendencies’ and ‘practices’ are changing. The once ‘settled’ bad habits are being disturbed. Some have been completely eradicated.

Today I am grateful the answer to breaking a habit of a lifetime is quite straightforward. That doesn’t make it easy, it takes diligent effort and action. It appears to me that every bad habit has an opposite, a good habit that counters the bad – commonly known in recovery as liabilities and assets or defects and strengths. For example, if I regularly practice honesty through my words, actions and behaviours then by default my tendency to be dishonest will be less regular. This will naturally lead to the unsettling of dishonesty as a bad habit and the forming of a new positive habit in honesty. Unfortunately, as my past has proven it can work in reverse too.

Today I am grateful that connecting with God through prayer and meditation is becoming habitual. This is the most important habit for me to possess as it takes me out of self. It’s my self-will that has a tendency to practice the bad habits, so in effect, the more I practice my connection with God, the easier it will be for me to practice any other good habits I maybe striving for.

Today I am grateful for the term ‘non negotiable’. This term has helped me create the good habits that bring so much joy to my current life. I can’t think of many good habits that weren’t initially difficult to do regularly. Being honest when I’ve consistently lied for decades is not easy. Praying when I’m not sure who or what I’m praying to is not easy. Calling other fellows when it feels so unnatural is not easy. Non negotiable, means I do it nevertheless, no matter how I feel. The last two and a bit years have proved to me that no matter how much I resist a good practice, if I just do it, without question, then a habit is always formed. As a result, the once difficulty disappears and in its place comes an understanding, enjoyment and not to forget, the benefits of serenity and happiness.

What a turnaround

Gratitude List 17/01/2019

Sometimes I feel so blessed to have found recovery I need to pinch myself. I was in a really bad place not even three years ago. Everything that could go wrong, either had done or was in the process of doing so. I can’t quite believe how much my life has turned around. Thanks to the fellowships and the twelve step program things have drastically changed.

I hasten to add that things aren’t perfect but the contrast is clear.

Today I am grateful I have come from hopeless to hopeful.

Today I am grateful I have come from alone to together.

Today I am grateful I have come from pain to joy.

Today I am grateful I have come from afraid to serenity.

Today I am grateful I have come from desperate to calm.

Today I am grateful I have come from shame to self esteem.

Today I am grateful I have come from resentment to forgiveness.

Today I am grateful I have come from expectation to gratitude.

Today I am grateful I have come from judgement to acceptance.

Today I am grateful I have come from arrogance to humility.

In short I once was a hopeless, expectant, fearful, resentful, judgemental, ashamed, desperate, arrogant man who was suffering in pain alone.

I wish I was exaggerating but I’m not.

Today my life is filled with self-esteem, hope, serenity, calmness, humility, acceptance, togetherness, forgiveness, joy and gratitude.

I chose the porridge

Gratitude List 12/01/2019

Today I am grateful I chose the porridge.

You’ll have to excuse me today. Trust me, there’s a point behind what follows, hopefully I’m able to put it into words and make some sense. In short, the other day, I went to McDonalds with my son and ordered porridge. I do struggle with what I eat and my powerlessness over food highly resembles the lack of power I have over gambling – so this was a big success for me.

A previous reaction I only know too well would have gone something like this:

– I would have accepted, before it even happened, that me eating junk food was inevitable. As far as I was concerned the deed was done and it was pointless trying to fight it.

– I would have convinved myself that this would be my treat for the day and for the rest of the day I would eat healthy and make up for it. ‘I am a normal eater,’ I would have told myself.

– I would have told myself to keep it sensible and try to be semi-healthy. Then at the vital moment (at the counter) I would order whatever I craved and even something extra, something sweet. Along came the first thoughts of ‘what am I doing?!’

– I would then sit down and not even enjoy it. I’m sure I scoff down junk food because I subconsciously know it tastes awful.

– I would then ponder the questions ‘Where was the fight? What happened to the promises I made to myself? Did I even have a choice?’

– I would then leave and as I did the following thought would have suddenly popped into my head ‘ah crap! I could’ve ordered the porridge!’ A good idea but too late now. If only I had thought of that earlier.

– I would then, with a degree of certainty, have carried on eating in the same way for the rest of the day. I had already hit that f**k it button so what’s the point. The day was ruined anyway.

As I write this, the similarities between my powerlessness over food and gambling are clearly highlighted. The spiritual malady is exactly the same.

Today I am grateful my day didn’t pan out how it has done so many times before.

Today I am grateful for my few days of abstinence. Abstinence that gave me a bit of strength.

Today I am grateful for the action I’m putting in. Going to the gym, recording what food I am eating and sharing my food compulsion stories with another like minded fellow. I can still do more.

Today I am mostly grateful for my recent efforts to improve my conscious contact with God through meditation and prayer. It’s this improved spiritual connection that fought (and won) against the spiritual malady. I genuinely believe that’s why I made the logical, rationale and sane choice. I believe its why I had a choice in the first place. I believe it’s why that choice came at the right time. And I believe it’s exactly the same spiritual connection and its power that will stop me putting on that first bet.