My 33rd AA birthday is November 24, 2009, but I always celebrate my recovery date on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving Day, 1976 was the last time I drank alcohol so I have much to be grateful for every day. I have received the wonderful gift of my Constant Companion, the God of my understanding, and the wonderful love and support of my home group, Margate Cokesbury Group. Thanks to all of you for helping me through the worst six months of my life.
I have recently learned about creating a gratitude alphabet list. I really liked this idea because I could keep it current with changes as I experience them.
Some quick links about gratitude:
“Finding a sense of purpose can be as easy as doing what makes you happy. I found that living a life based on spiritual principles and helping others as much as I can makes me happy. That life is not a search for happiness but a by-product of right living. I used to think I had to change the world, you know, really make a difference! Today I look for my life purpose each and every day. My morning prayer is, “God, show me what you will have me do today and give me the strength and willingness to carry it out.” When I approach each day with this attitude, anything is possible!”
(2) From Get Rich Slowly, a review of Happier which is a book by Tai Ben-Shahar who teaches a class at Harvard about positive psychology. He lists these as exercises to encourage happiness:
- Create rituals. Ben-Shahar urges readers to do the things they love: reading, walking, gaming, knitting, whatever. But because it can be difficult to make time for these activities, he argues that we should create rituals around them. At a specific time every day, do the thing you love. For example, I’ve recently made it a ritual to walk a couple of miles to have lunch most afternoons. This makes me happy.
- Express gratitude. I don’t do this enough. Research indicates that you can enjoy a heightened sense of well being by keeping a daily gratitude journal. Just jot down five things you’re grateful for every day. It’s okay to repeat yourself from one day to the next. This exercise forces you to become conscious of the good things in your life.
- Set meaningful goals. When I was younger, I set goals that had little relation to who I was or what I wanted. I set goals based on what I felt was expected of me. For a goal to be worthwhile, it has to be related to your own interests. And it has to add something to your life. Pursuing meaningful goals can bring happiness to your life. (And note that it’s the pursuit of the goals that brings happiness, not the attainment of them.)
- Play to your strengths. Ben-Shahar is a fan of Appreciative Inquiry. (That website is awful, by the way — it’s written in jargon.) Appreciative Inquiry ignores the things that do not work and looks instead what has been successful. By focusing on past positive outcomes, you can build upon your strengths. Do what you’re good at. (This reminds me of Tim Ferriss’ philosophy in The 4-Hour Workweek: “Emphasize your strengths, not your weaknesses.”)
- Simplify. Ben-Shahar writes: “To raise our levels of well-being, there is no way around simplifying our lives. This means safeguarding our time, learning to say ‘no’ more often — to people as well as opportunities — which is not easy. It means prioritizing, choosing activities that we really, really want to do, while letting go of others.” As Derek Sivers recently wrote on his blog, if an opportunity doesn’t make you say “hell yeah!”, you’re better off saying “no”.
(3) Marelisa Fabrega on her blog, Abundance Blog at Marelisa Online, lists these lessons from The Science of Getting Rich (Part Three):
(a)Get rid of the thought of competition
(b) The importance of gratitude
(c) The role of your will