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MOTIVATIONAL MUSINGS: A gratitude list is a fine way to reveal the things we so often take for granted

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It’s not easy summoning gratitude this time of year, when spring seems to be too far away and the sky once again is sending sheets of rain down upon us.

In recovery, we’re taught that “a grateful addict will never use,” but we can’t reasonably expect to always skip through our days whistling a happy tune. Life, and especially our minds, don’t work that way. Of course, we have tools at our disposal to adjust our attitudes, and nothing is more useful than making a gratitude list.

It’s a simple process. We just get a piece of paper and start jotting down things for which we’re grateful. If you’re feeling particularly angry or depressed or lonely, it may seem like a pointless endeavor, so I suggest starting off with the basics. I’ll get us started, and since I’m aiming middle of the road, I’m sure there are those of you reading this who will feel (a) envy for not having the things for which I express thanks or (b) disdain because the things you have seem so much better.

To those people, I say this — just adjust your gratitude dial and dig a little deeper, because unless you happen to be reading this as the final minutes of your life expire, things could always be worse.

  • Food. If you live in the United States, chances are good — very good, in fact — that you’ll eat better than many other people in the rest of the world. Yes, if your lunch came out of a can, it’s not as good as mom’s, but get this — according to the organization Stop the Hunger, more than 1,000 people around the world die from starvation in a single day. If that makes you a little more grateful for what you do have, then clean your plate — the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that on a daily basis, Americans waste roughly five times the amount of international food aid we provide to impoverished nations, meaning we throw away about 5,000 tons of food per day.
  • Shelter. Whether you’re living in a palace or a hovel, you’re doing better than a lot of people — according to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, more than 100 million people around the globe are considered homeless. Granted, we may not be content where we live, but chances are if you have a place to lay your head at night where the rain doesn’t beat down upon it and the outside air doesn’t chill you to the bone, you’re doing alright.
  • Soap. Honestly, who really stops to give thanks for something as simple as a bar of soap? But consider this — if you have the ability to wash your hands clean, you’re doing better than some. According to the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, 2.5 billion people worldwide live without basic sanitation, and a child dies every 20 seconds because of a lack of access to it. So wash your hands and be glad for it.
  • A job. You may not be where you want to be vocationally, but consider: According to the World Factbook, out of slightly less than 300 countries around the world, 50 or so have unemployment rates that are higher than 15 percent. So yeah, it could always be worse, and really, if you’re walking onto this campus to clock in every day, we have it better than most, because we get an opportunity to change lives.
  • Interconnectedness. In this day and age of technological marvels, it’s virtually impossible to be alone, unless you choose to. You have no family, you say? Call a friend. No friends, either? Visit a church. Don’t like church? Volunteer at a local nursing home. There is absolutely no reason to sit in your home by your lonesome and dwell in self-pity because you feel your life is devoid of company.

It’s all about getting out of your head. The whole “woe is me” mentality can be a familiar place to wallow, and it might seem tempting to get into that headspace and stay there. But here’s the thing about that pity pot — it leaves a ring on your metaphorical behind.

In other words, it’s not comfortable. But you don’t have to sit on it until it becomes so. Find your gratitude on this day, or go out and make your own. The choice is yours.

Here’s your Friday motivational, friends … a few hours late, but here nonetheless. Love y’all.