Becoming alcohol free wasn’t the only thing that changed me into a better, happier person. A second shift was equally important. There is no denying – gratitude changed me too.
This Wasn’t Always Me
“Oh Annie! You’re always so positive! Your name really fits you. You always handle everything with such grace!”
I couldn’t help but chuckle when I heard that. If they only knew how categorically untrue those words were just a few years ago!
It’s true that I now try to find the good and positive in almost every situation. It wasn’t always like that. There was a time where negativity swirled around me like the tornado in Wizard of Oz. There was no yellow brick road for me to go skipping along. Just the Wicked Witch of the West reminding me why things sucked. The anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds I was on weren’t bringing out the sunshine for me. They just allowed me to maintain my existence. I was so quick to point out all the reasons life just was not good and to down a bottle of wine in remorse.
Gratitude Changed Me
Yes, stopping drinking helped with my depression and getting off my medication. That was part of my transformation, but stopping drinking is not what made me start seeking the good in every situation. As part of that process, and in addition to the journaling I was already doing, I started practicing gratitude. That was where the shift took place. Gratitude changed me and my entire mindset. I had no idea how profound that change would be and how much it would affect everything in my life.
How To Do It
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How Gratitude Changed Me
The ways that gratitude changed me are too numerous to count. I think a huge part of that shift, though, has been that by practicing gratitude and learning to look for the good in situations, it helped me avoid the trigger to drink. When you’re focused on the negativity, it’s really easy to say – “Well since so and so happened, I need a drink to deal with it!”
Gratitude changed me into thinking – “I’m so thankful that happened because….” I know that sounds idealistic, but it’s true. Here’s a perfect example of that. I had plans the other day – a really packed schedule – one that didn’t include locking my keys in my car and having to wait for my husband to rescue me. Yet, there I was – stuck.
I started to wander around, taking care of what I could while stuck in town. I also unexpectedly ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in well over a year. With nothing else to do, we grabbed lunch and caught up. With how busy I’ve been with work and life, I hadn’t realized how lonely and in need of a catch-up I’d been. If not for those keys getting locked in the car and messing up my whole day, I never would have gotten to fill my gratitude cup in that way.
It Isn’t All Sunshine
I’m not going to say that just by learning to express gratitude, my life suddenly became a Hallmark movie. It didn’t. Things do still suck occasionally. I still had a ton of things that didn’t get done that day, but how gratitude changed me is that I didn’t down a glass (okay, a bottle) of wine at lunch because I locked myself out of my car, rendering me incapable of doing anything else that day. I didn’t choose alcohol to bring me down even farther.
Gratitude changed me by allowing me to find the good in the bad. Every night I write down five things I am grateful for. That night, my list looked like this –
1) I didn’t have all three kids with me when I locked the keys in the car. (That would not have created a blog about gratitude. That would have been a stress management blog!)
2) My husband was able to bring me another set of keys, avoiding the expense of a locksmith.
3) The universe brought me a friend when I didn’t even realize I needed one.
4) It wasn’t raining or snowing when I locked myself out of the car.
5) I have tomorrow to get things done too.
The Biggest Change
Gratitude changed me in a way that had almost nothing to do with what happens to me on the outside. It has made me stop beating myself up for things that go wrong. My positive attitude (in most situations) is because I’m finally kind to myself, which spills into everything else I do.