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Gratitude; What a Concept

By Joe | | June 10, 2018

Gratitude; what a concept.

Today I’d like to talk about gratitude, but first, a little bit about myself: My name is Joe, I am twenty-nine years old, and I suffer from severe Crohn’s disease, addiction, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. I know, raw deal, right? Well, not really, many people have it just as bad off as I do, or worse. For the many years that I was completely lost in the throws of my addiction, a family tragedy, my self-centeredness and identified completely with the victim role, I didn’t even want to live anymore, to be honest. When I habitually created more problems than I solved, life was very tough. The problems I did solve, I did so with even bigger problems to dwarf them, and as you could imagine, my life was downright unmanageable. Now what I didn’t come to realize until after years of suffering, and surely not without help, was that there had always been a fundamental ingredient missing from my life: gratitude.

Voicing, expressing and manifesting gratitude for the things I do have in my life today is the warm fuzzy and extremely powerful force that drives my ambition to continue to grow, learn and become a better person. I receive a lot of help daily, and I certainly didn’t just wake up one day and decide, you know what? I’m going to change the way I see the world, right now! But for today, my willingness to show up for my life sober and reasonably content is present.

It is all too easy for me to overlook gratitude, especially when I am in pain, depressed, stressed out or anxious. So, I have a daily practice of reminding myself what I am grateful for. Every morning I manifest a verbal or written gratitude list, and it helps me rewire my brain to operate from a place of compassion, love and abundance for my mind, body, and spirit. My life is very much exactly what I perceive it to be. It’s changing my perception, and accepting what I cannot change that has become my goal. Here are a few simple things I am grateful for today:

A warm, dry place to sleep, and a roof over my head. Can I easily take these things for granted? Absolutely. I don’t have enough pillows, my back hurts, I can’t sleep, my smartphone alarm is going to go off too soon. Let’s bring it back to the basics, I love that I have a safe and quiet place to sleep. I have privacy, I have heat, and I have a door to lock to feel secure. I don’t need to worry about my safety while I sleep, and for that, I am grateful.

I can communicate, I am mobile, and I am self sufficient to feed, bathe and clothe myself. My brother sustained a catastrophic brain injury at work when I was nineteen years old. Thus, he is permanently non-verbal and severely disabled relying on %100 care for the rest of his life. I have witnessed first hand the challenges he goes through daily and he is a true warrior. Personal autonomy is such a gift, and with it, I choose to give back as often as my health will allow it. For me, gratitude is just as much an action as it is anything else/

Willingness. This may sound senseless, but for most of my life I lacked willingness to take responsibility for my life. My life happened to me, sometimes at me, the people in it were out to get me, and I was never good enough. Turns out, willingness is the key to a lot of locked doors in my life today. I am willing to admit when I am wrong, I am willing to remain teachable, and I am willing to accept my life on life’s terms. Whatever that might look like, it is my responsibility to remain willing to grow, and to adapt. Now do I practice this every day all day? Hell no. I spent my whole life living a certain way, and change doesn’t happen overnight. Redundantly, I remain willing to move forward.

Sobriety. This may seem insignificant to many, but for an alcoholic like myself, this is paramount. For seven months, as of this writing I have managed to go to bed, and to wake up sober, one day at a time. By the grace of a power much greater than myself that I was willing to come to have faith in, and a close-knit support group that keeps me accountable, I have been able to maintain some content, consistent sobriety. As a result, my mind, body, and spirit are improving in more ways than I could write in this article.

Finally, I am grateful for YOU. Without the support, love and compassion I’ve received from so many of you lovely humans out there, and in my immediate life, I doubt I would be sitting here writing this at all. Gratitude is a feeling, and an action for me. It can warm my heart, push my pen, lend my hand, stay the drink and heal my spirit if I tap into it’s endless power. Thank you so much for reading.

Joe is an aspiring writer, Crohn's Disease warrior, and an advocate for addiction, mental health and chronic illness. He believes by practicing love, compassion, and understanding for not only others, but also ourselves, we can all find a path to a better way of living, and being.Joe Instagram:
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