177: Spiritual Principle – Gratitude (Sort Of)


We are talking about the spiritual principle of gratitude. We look into trying to find a solid definition we can agree on. Then we talk about what gratitude might look like in your life, or feel like. We give a list of ways to practice gratitude, and also list some of the benefits of increasing your gratitude. Listen in and then share your thoughts with us.

spiritual principle of gratitude

Episodes mentioned:

⁠⁠Spiritual bypassing

⁠Journaling⁠

⁠Polyvagal Theory⁠

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Transcript:

recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or Fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature [Music]

welcome back it’s recovery sort of I am Jason a grateful guy I think and I’m Billy I’m a person in long-term recovery I’m Caroline I’m also a person in long-term recovery and we’re talking about gratitude it’s a spiritual principle it’s time to do that stuff again gratitude uh importance as a level of spiritual principle like how important is it amongst the spiritual principles for me sure um I mean unless you want to try to answer for Caroline yeah I guess it’s I mean it’s pretty high up there I guess when it comes to recovery it’s definitely one that ranks way up in the top three I’m gonna agree with that oh top three wow that’s high up there so I I don’t I don’t know about top three that’s maybe maybe it’s definitely important I I agree with both of you on that I think it’s huge top three what are the other in the top three now that we’re there uh honesty that was the one that came to mind for me really that’s up there is like crazy willingness wow that’s an incredible top three I don’t know what my other third is I just know that yeah I was like honest to be up there now we’re talking about just I’m putting that into recovery like what do I need to stay in this process of recovery not necessarily what I would rank for like my life per se and you said gratitude honesty and willingness yeah huh and you don’t know you just saying gratitude no it’s too early in the morning I don’t know when they got when they got a spiritual principle called unconditional love it’s hard for me to think that that’s not in the top three somewhere well I’m thinking of it on what is like the foundation of my recovery built on what things give me like a Bedrock unconditional love which is highly important it wasn’t a concept that I had very early on for sure and even now that one can go away some days like I can definitely not be very unconditionally loving you know what about the idea that Honesty isn’t that useful because you can only be as honest as the lens you’re able to see from at that moment like all the times we talk about hey five years ago I had all the answers and now I don’t because I was wrong about those and you know what I mean like we were being honest at every step of the way but it it wasn’t necessarily great because we think of it as wrong now yeah I mean I guess the self-honesty for me like not I’m not going to listen to what other people say a lot of times it’s really up to me to I don’t know decide I’m gonna work on stuff or decide things need to change or you know like that the level of honesty that I need for me to be willing to do work to be different just has to be really high if I’m saying that right but no I kind of get what you’re saying I was like it sounds more like like self-awareness or self-reflection but I don’t think they’re on the spiritual principles list yeah and maybe that’s somewhat with honesty what I’m talking about but yeah it’s it’s more self-awareness self-honesty self actualization all right I’ve managed to Sidetrack us long enough let’s let’s get back on topic so gratitude as always when you look up the definitions they all suck yeah the quality of being thankful does not sound like what I feel when I feel gratitude uh Readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness that’s definitely not what I feel um and then of course there’s a ton of them that say the Act of being grateful so then you got to go to grateful and I got appreciative of benefits received that sounds [  ] cheese ball um affording pleasure or contentment pleasing I’m like pleasing by reason of comfort supplied or discomfort alleviated kind of like that one yeah so when I looked it up I again I gratitude thankful but then when I looked up thankful I I got conscious of benefit received which is very similar to what you said but I I liked that um I thought that that that kind of fits within the framework of what I think when I when I think of gratitude it doesn’t for me so here’s one that I I like the best you know that I of the ones I read it says the state or quality of being thankful a warm and friendly feeling in response to a favor or favors received thankfulness that has a piece of what I think yours is missing like I can be conscious uh of the thing and be thankful for it and yet still not feel the Gratitude in my life at that moment and that’s where I’m like I don’t know that that fully expresses the actual experience like the sensation of gratitude yeah that’s fair but that was the best one like a lot of like you said a lot of them are like the act of being grateful or you know the ACT you know that doesn’t help right right stupid definitions um I did find that a number of researchers have defined gratitude as a positive emotional reaction in response to the receipt of a gift or benefit from someone I don’t like that it’s specific to someone I don’t think you have to get it from a human in order for it to be something you can be grateful for okay so here’s another thing I found maybe we’ll get something we like out of here gratitude has also been conceptualized both as a state phenomenon as in the emotional reaction to a present event or experience as well as a dispositional characteristic or trait phenomenon like some people might just generally live more gratitude or feel more gratitude or experience more gratitude um and it goes on to say gratitude is the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself and represents a general state of thankfulness and or appreciation this proposed definition transcends the interpersonal overtones attributed to the term that is the construct of receiving something from someone and allows for a more inclusive meaning as in being thankful to experiences or you know for the experience of being alive or for coming into contact with nature and it allows for the state and the trait context of the word gratitude yeah and I think that’s what I’ve I’m going to say something I think is similar to what you’re talking about I’m going to try to simplify it for dummies like me and say gratitude can be a feeling but it can also be a practice like you can get a gift and all of a sudden feel like oh wow I really appreciate this gift then you just feel it spontaneously out of nowhere from receiving something but it’s also a thing that you can cultivate or grow in yourself by certain practices so you know it’s not I don’t just feel grateful all the time I can do practices that help to increase my level of gratitude I’m I’m actually more confused about gratitude now than I’ve ever been in my life even though I don’t think that confusion hinders me from like accessing the benefits or experiencing it or using it as a valuable tool in my life and yet I’m still just more and more confused by the concept of it and and maybe what it is or if it’s something different than love or I don’t know I’m it’s interesting maybe we’ll get into it as we keep talking but I I know you guys both seem kind of cued in and and had some interesting like personal stuff do we want to start there just kind of talking about gratitude in our own lives sure you can go first if you want yeah so I I grounded you it’s a big one for me we’ve talked about doing it on the show a few times and I keep telling Jason I’m like don’t do that one without me um because I think it’s it while it might not be my number one most important it’s probably my favorite of the spiritual principles and I think for me you know like when I when I came in and into the rooms that phrase a grateful addict will never use really resonated with me um maybe not day one but certainly probably by the end of year one um and is something that I’ve tried to continue to pull forward in my recovery over the years um and then certainly as I’ve hit speed bumps in my life and and experienced tough times um it’s gratitude has become a bit of a coping mechanism for me and a way of kind of like putting things in perspective um it’s certainly not always the like I could have told you a few months ago like I was not in a place of gratitude at all I’ve talked on the show before about you know losing my job recently and and how difficult that’s been um and it’s been hard at times to be grateful through that but I also know that it when I can do that and when I’ve been able to reframe um that’s been really helpful for me so um yeah gratitude’s definitely one that I feel like throughout the course of my recovery I can look back and say that has been a key piece of um maintaining my mental well-being yeah and I think for me similarly like it was that grateful addict will never use like that that’s saying I liked but I think back to like before I got clean this last time or in recovery this last time I literally was taking a gun to stick it in my mouth to blow my [  ] brains out you know I hated myself and hated my life that much that death seemed like a better answer than to continue waking up the next day so as I got into recovery and started to do some things that started more positive Trends in my life it became pretty easy to remember like that’s where the [  ] you were don’t forget that like that’s where your addiction ended you know no it didn’t necessarily end there because I still have it but that’s where your addiction took you if you don’t remain in this process or recovery so I’m just glad I don’t wake up most days thinking death is a better option than waking up tomorrow yeah I I like that Billy I think you make a good point like it’s very easy in early recovery I remember my gratitude lists you know with just a couple months clean we’re like having a bed to sleep in like having money to purchase food with like very basic needs that you know once you stop using it becomes easy to to meet those needs right easier a lot easier and so that gratitude list in the beginning is very easy like it’s just like okay like my life is not utter [  ] so I’m grateful um and it becomes harder the you know I don’t my gratitude list today hmm my intuitive gratitude list today is not having a bed to sleep in because I’ve had a bed to sleep in for the last almost 20 years now I take that for granted so I have to be maybe a little bit more uh intentional to think back to like oh how it actually could be as opposed to like how it’s been the last 5 10 15 years and for me that’s where the importance of service work and staying connected to recovery especially new people or like going into treatment centers to do like H and I work or being connected with actively using people are not actively using people but you know people that are right there that are that are coming in new like that keeps that feeling fresh for me of what I felt like at the end of my using you know it’s like if I get too far away from that I feel like that feeling could go away yeah I went to a meeting a few weeks ago I told you this I went to an NA meeting a few weeks ago and um because I was struggling with the work stuff and life stuff and feeling crappy and trying to figure out you know what what the solution to that was and one of the things I walked away from that meeting was like Wow people people will have it worse than me you know like even in the midst of not having a job and um you know some other things that were going on in my life like there are people that are living in recovery houses dealing with like just crazy [ __ ] you know like and I hate to say that’s like that’s not the only thing that I got out of that meeting but it wasn’t 90 it was a valuable thing it gave me that it gave me that perspective well and for me there’s like the humility fits in there to where like and I hate this this is gonna sound so terrible but like when I do any kind of H and I work it’s almost like the shittier the facility the better like they’re going into the jails or going into like the state-run rehabs like that’s the places that I ended up in my life and so I know that I am no better than any of those people and that with a couple bad decisions that’s my life like that’s where I go that’s where I end up and so when I go into to places like that to carry a message of recovery it is like God damn I’m so glad I’m not stuck there anymore because it is I mean I hate to say it’s we’re responsible for our own choices and the things that I did to end me up in those places you know were on me but I just I’m grateful that I found this place in recovery that I could connect that I could get some some benefit out of that helped me stay out of making those bad decisions I’m not I don’t think like making a gratitude list as a form of trying to increase gratitude is a bad idea and I don’t think that in general it’s necessarily totally bad at least right to the second I don’t think so uh where we say something like I’m thankful that I have it better than this situation or thank God I’m not still in this kind of situation I don’t I don’t think there’s like a broad oh that’s terrible and unhealthy right it does frequently I think borderline on that idea of spiritual bypassing we talked about you know Dave brought that on like this idea of well yeah people have it worse but people have it better and none of that actually addresses the way you’re feeling right now it just kind of avoids the way you’re feeling right now to convince yourself like no other people have it worse this is good fine you know what I mean like I worry about that from that standpoint and that’s where I think maybe that’s not the healthiest practice all the time yeah well I think we can use any of the spiritual bypassing to get past any kind of negative feelings you know I guess is is gratitude the foundation of spiritual bypassing or one of the practices of spiritual body no no I don’t I don’t think it’s the Gratitude piece that’s the problem like I don’t think it’s like oh we’re practicing gratitude and that’s leading us astray I think and they were using it wrong maybe that’s not gratitude yeah you know what I mean like maybe maybe there is a place for like hey I am glad I’m not in that place anymore that is gratitude right but maybe also there’s a frequency for us to say oh at least I’m not there but but it would more often be when we’re doing it to others I would imagine like not that we can’t do that to ourselves but anytime you’re saying to somebody else we’ll look on the bright side or it could be worse like that’s always terrible so why would it be okay to do it to ourselves I do it to myself but why is that okay I don’t know I’ve done it I did it to you once what happened

kind of like that but I don’t call that gratitude like I’ll say man it could be worse but I don’t call that gratitude at least for me but isn’t the in the immediate next feeling gratitude that it’s not worse not for me for me it is so I you know I think in in a situation one thing that you know that this this job loss right so that hit me really hard I I lost my job it was um with an organization I’d been with for a long time my career was a huge part of my identity um it was definitely an area of my life where I got a lot of um like positive regard and positive feelings and and it was tough it was really tough um when when I got laid off and um I when I found out the news um part of my processing of that it didn’t happen immediately was just to think back and say well this could have happened this could have happened six months after Matt died you know like there’s there’s times in my life where that situation having happened sooner would have been just absolutely catastrophic and and so that was for me you know like at least at least it wasn’t like this like I’m grateful that you know I’m in a place you know when this happened at the end of the summer at least I was in a place where like I could I could handle it I could process it I didn’t have like already like I wasn’t just filled to the brink with like trauma and grief um and so I was grateful for that and being able to look at it in that lens of like you know at least when this happened it happened at a time where I could process and I could handle it and and um helped me and to me that does feel like I was grateful that like it how being grateful for the fact that it happened when it happened and not having happened sooner helped me to kind of process and accept the state that I the circumstances that I found myself in and maybe as you’re talking about it maybe it’s getting a little clearer for me so I I don’t know necessarily that the problem is feeling gratitude for having the situation happen the way it did and not some other worst tragic way like that can be a legitimate feeling like oh yeah hey it could it definitely could have been worse and this is a lot nicer for me I think maybe the tactic that is troublesome is when you’re using it to fix or correct you’re almost using it like as the opposite of the feeling that you’re already experiencing which is this sucks I don’t have a job I’m scared I’m nervous I’m anxious and I feel like they’re two separate things like both can be there at the same time but I almost feel like when you express it you’re saying oh as long as I keep focusing on this this one will go away and I don’t know that that’s yeah well I think that what you’re describing sounds like the spiritual bypassing yeah that definitely sounds like well that’s what I feel like when Caroline describes gratitude to me she tells me like oh I think of this thought about how it could have been worse some way and then I instantly feel better and I’m like that doesn’t seem like it’s a solution really I mean hey if it works for you feel better yeah and I guess that’s what I was thinking too it’s like for me gratitude always has like a warm positive feeling you know like when I think of gratitude or when I feel grateful like it’s it always seems like I’m thankful like it puts my spirit in a good place and I think maybe that’s what’s different than like the spiritual bypassing part I want to come back to that because I don’t want to move away from this thing because I found a good piece of writing on it but I do want to come back to the feeling or experience of gratitude because that’s where a lot of my confusion is uh nowadays so I thank you for bringing that up um so I did find a good writing on psychology today maybe this will help us kind of clarify the difference it’s called you know uh one section invalidating your emotional experiences uh you shouldn’t feel this way remember many people have it worse than you does this sound familiar if you’ve had this thought heard it or said it yourself you may have experienced a negative impact of gratitude when you compare yourself to the circumstances of others you risk minimizing and or invalidating your emotional experiences uh so uh family therapist States gratitude shouldn’t be practiced in a way that compares ourselves to others it’s not about who has it worse or better it’s about finding what is available to us here and now that we can appreciate another Dr Hammond goes further by stating it’s important when practicing gratitude not to invalidate your feelings of stress you can have both a strong sense of gratitude along with feelings of sadness confusion or anxiety um gratitude becomes unhealthy when it is weaponized to diminish or dismiss your own lived experiences of various stressors and harms in some cases it may even be a tool for gaslighting you about the very the very reality of such stressors and harms and then it gives some tips to avoid minimizing and invalidating your emotional experiences experience and validate your emotions before you focus on practices of gratitude if you focus on your emotional processes processing first you may be less tempted to use gratitude to minimize or invalidate your emotional experiences remember that all your emotions are vital including negative ones such as anger grief and even hopelessness and it says don’t compare your feelings thoughts or situation with others instead focus on instead focus on your personal experiences when practicing gratitude for example instead of saying I should be grateful because many people have it worse than I do simply say I’m truly grateful for um it talks it goes further and talks about hindering your emotional processing um maintaining harmful systemic issues so if you know we’re giving ourselves this idea of like be grateful for what you have instead of focusing on what you lack and then there’s like systemic oppression in your Society maybe you don’t want to be grateful for what you have yeah well I mean when you were saying that I immediately thought to like because my brain goes to like these extreme cases but it’s it’s like an abused wife you know saying like oh well at least I’m grateful my husband pays the bills you know and ignoring that he’s like smacking her you know every day or hitting her every day like yeah my other three girlfriends are buried in the woods at least I’m still breathing yeah it’s like that doesn’t feel like a good reason to be grateful so yeah I don’t think it’s necessarily that we can’t have the appreciation of not being in a worse situation I think that’s a very real thing I appreciate that my situation isn’t worse for sure but I do think that we got to be careful around that line of like are we just kind of gaslighting ourselves or spirit bypassing or trying to convince ourselves of something without actually addressing the feeling we’re having right now which is absolutely not gratitude sometimes you know and that’s where I get a little I I I don’t know right like I can I can suggest that people practice gratitude lists and tools and methods of increasing gratitude but like if you’re not feeling better I don’t know that you have access to feeling gratitude at all no matter what the [ __ ] you do I really don’t know yeah no it’s I mean it’s a lot harder that’s for sure [Music] thank you

well and funny I must have read a different article on psychology today but it was talking about some people are just no it’s very similar just it simplified it I think a lot I don’t know if this is exactly what you were saying but this is like a one sentence so it just said uh gratitude involves a process of recognizing first that one has obtained a positive outcome and second that there is an external source for that good outcome so there’s also a thing where certain people just their disposition is more geared towards gratitude so by Nature they’re more grateful and that may fall into some level of like I’ve never been a person that feels like I’ve struggled with depression at least you know being like sad a lot or overly depressed I mean I have some characteristics of depression but that’s fascinating that you say that actually because I am obviously a depressed person I’ve talked about that plenty on here and gratitude has been a struggle throughout my life like it’s hard to [  ] feel good when everything’s a goddamn bummer yeah I mean I’m I feel like I I definitely also tend towards depression as well certainly and gratitude has been a bit of a solution for that but I can say I have never I can’t remember ever making a gratitude list like this is I’ve never done that really you’ve never had a sponsor tell you you have to oh I’m sure they’ve told me to do it and you just don’t do it I mean I don’t feel like I I just like say I don’t ever feel an overwhelming lack of gratitude where I feel like I need to make a list man I’m walking around living like what 60 days clean your sponsor says make a gratitude list and you’re just like nah not doing that oh I probably Justified it in some way by saying I just do it in my head and then I just made a list in my head that’s fair I have definitely tried the practice a couple of times and it has not proven very fruitful for me I don’t know that’s one of those places I struggle especially when we talk about these spiritual principles it’s like my experience has been when I have not felt good inside when like life has just felt hard and stressful and overwhelming I spiritual principles feel like the hardest thing in the world to practice and they don’t seem to give me any benefit even when I white-knuckle my ass through doing it like I’m like yeah I don’t feel any better than I felt walking into this I don’t know what that is I don’t know if there’s like if there’s no positive feeling or very little positive feeling in your life like what the [  ] are you supposed to be appreciative for it’s like yeah I have a bed I don’t [  ] feel rested ever like I yeah I have food I don’t ever actually feel positive after I eat it like when is there room for gratitude there so it’s interesting and I don’t know that I have the answer to this but there are some things that they say we can do to cultivate gratitude I wonder like but I don’t know if you do those things if that’ll mean that you feel it any deeper or any more if that makes sense yeah well I I will say this as a guy in some of the worst places of my depression in recovery I I’m not saying they would or wouldn’t work I don’t have any clue but how the [  ] can I do these regularly when I have zero motivation and I can’t get out of bed for work like I’m barely making it out of bed to feed my kids some days that’s like cereal in a plastic Ziploc bag for them to munch on but I guess for me that’s been my understanding of the recovery process in general it’s like I can’t wait until the tragedy to do the work I gotta do the work so that when the thing comes I’m ready for it you know but how do you do it when you can but yeah I would also say that that’s like that’s like severe mental health issues that’s like saying oh well you should be practicing your gratitude list when you’re laid up in the hospital with you know two broken arms and you can’t you know I mean like they’re that’s that’s that’s kind of a separate Point situation like your health is is is is is not optimal at that point I totally agree uh I’d say we’re all on that Spectrum somewhere maybe I do fall you know skewed towards one side of that or outside the bell curve but there’s probably quite a few people with a similar struggle you know in the 50 tile and greater range where I’m at you know maybe the heightened extreme but they’re still in there struggling and every step along the way year after year what I got was you just need to be more grateful you just need to practice more gratitude so the program I went to for a solution never suggested like oh God man you’re still not feeling better maybe you should like check out some other [  ] maybe it’s not really a lacking and and and and and not I’m not trying to point fingers at the program there’s a lot of places in there where I wasn’t talking about how I felt because I didn’t seem welcome and I was scared people would judge me and everybody else seemed to be happy why wasn’t I so there was like the internal Judgment of myself and me not talking more readily about it like I had I done that maybe there would have been more suggestions of like oh you need some outside help but I don’t know I guess like where what do we do for the people like me that are getting lost in the cracks like that’s and and it’s this thought occurred to me and I’m not trying to get his way off topic but I feel like I might as well share it since we’re kind of along those lines we talk about whether the programs work or don’t work but there’s like zero Fidelity in any of these 12-step programs what you get out of attending a meeting and working steps with a sponsor in Baltimore or Cecil County might be totally different than what you get in Iowa or Wisconsin and so it’s just interesting that we we can be different in Baltimore I mean well it can but but we debate the effectiveness of the program sometimes and it’s like the program doesn’t even have any Fidelity we don’t even all work steps the same way so like what are we really saying works or doesn’t work it’s if you run into the right person or not it works if you work it Jason that’s what they keep telling me that’s what they keep telling me I just love those you know un challengeable cliches I’m like what does that even mean you know obviously I should just be grateful like in this program I had it better than people who weren’t in the program I guess or something I don’t know no I do I do hear you though because it’s funny that you say that and I’m like wow like and I don’t I’m gonna use the word luck but this is one of those things that uh just coincidentally or whatever like my first sponsor had mental health issues and had been on medication at one point you know and went to therapy and all that stuff and so I didn’t get the message that n a was going to fix all your problems and then those things weren’t okay but I know other people get that message a lot and come in and think they gotta go off psych meds or not see a counselor and that the program’s gonna fix it and I just I guess back to your point of fidelity like I didn’t get that messaging you know just coincidentally well it just it just makes me wonder like when we talk about you know whether the program’s ninety percent fifty percent seven percent effective like which program right is it the one Billy got with the person he happened to run into or the people he happened to be around or the program I got or the program Caroline got so that’s kind of I don’t know that makes me feel even worse about debating that yeah well then we become a mishmash of you know our connections and people we right well then it’s like well what are we saying that actually works then because it’s not the same I think in general I mean not to get to but in general for my understanding is that this should be a process of learning about ourselves learning about spiritual principles and how to apply them in our life and that can look very different for different people which principles they put more emphasis on which ones they need more in their lives like me like say I I don’t know that I’ve specifically done a bunch of you know quote-unquote work to be grateful it’s just part of my disposition it’s just something that happens I’ve never had to sit down and like monthly make a gratitude list so that I feel grateful I can sit down for a couple minutes and think about a couple things and go God damn I’m lucky and just feel it you know like I can and that’s nothing that I did that’s not work that someone in the program taught me it’s just part of my nature whereas that is not a part of your nature so I’ve seen a major Evolution and I don’t know that I can call it I I don’t know that I can attribute it to explicit work that I did to be more grateful but I do know that I was a much more pessimistic and negative person when I came in the program than I am today and I would say that that’s a result of doing the work that I have done and staying clean and and starting to be able to really recognize what what helps me and what hurts me and when I allow myself to go down that negative path or that path of self-pity um that hurts me yeah yeah I can spiral with that and so at some point in my recovery I started to be able to halt that process um before I got deep into it you know I remember with a few years clean like laying on the floor of my apartment like crying having this huge pity party for myself um and and allowing my brain to you know it just it just Cycles right it’s just like you just get further and further and further into it and and at some point being able to kind of see the signs of that thinking that like negative thinking that like I have it so bad this is awful it’s always going to be awful being able to catch that soon enough in the process to not go down that spiral um is something that I acquired and I don’t know what it is but I do think that gratitude has been a piece of that sounds a lot like uh what you’re describing as a nervous system hijacking your body in survival mode you know we’re calling that pity party that’s like that you can’t you lose touch with your logical brain you lose touch with all that and you can only feel what the feeling is right now which is imminent doom and pending danger right and what you were able to do over time was find a safe enough environment for your nervous system to get triggered to a tolerable level for you that you could also do something with you know you could calm back down actively and like that’s helpful and maybe if we could tell people that instead of stop having a pity party we might like help them shift a little sooner um and and yeah I mean it’s not I don’t disagree the practice of self-reflection the stuff that was in the steps it definitely assisted me I guess I just think there was ways that it held me up in thinking that I wasn’t doing that well enough when really I needed something else there was no like alarm system or you know Branch tree formula for when I got to this yes or no decision to be like oh [  ] I I need extra I didn’t know that it’s not just me sucking because that was my life story all along anyway so it was just living up to that when I saw that you know yeah go ahead go ahead I see it in my face I can take it well and it’s not a criticism it’s just more just a question and I don’t know that there’s a good answer for the question but it’s like that sounds more like are we expecting the 12-step process to fix mental health issues you know like and there are a lot of unqualified people that are sponsoring and I say unqualified they’re unqualified to help someone deal with mental health issues they’re not unqualified to teach you how to work the steps the way that they work the steps but they’re definitely unqualified to tell you how to treat your mental health issues and you know I I mean unfortunately a lot of people coming into the program suffer from mental health issues we know a lot of that stuff is kind of interconnected a lot of our trauma um but funny enough with the trauma it made me think of like the spiritual bypassing right just to kind of go back to that for a minute so you talk about the pity parties and stuff early on I remember using a lot of those pity party reasons and my suffering was the reason that I used so I would justify oh I was sexually abused and my parents didn’t love me or take care of me and blah blah blah and so [  ] them and I’m gonna do what I want I’m gonna use you know it’s good justification to use and then when I got clean like I would justify like well my sexual abuse could have been way worse and it might have minimized my experience with the sexual abuse than I later needed to deal with but in that moment like early recovery like a year clean I [  ] might have saved my life you know just being like well it could have been worse like but that’s all that’s where I was at that moment that was a step towards dealing with it um yeah I don’t know that’s maybe that spiritual bypassing helped in the beginning but there did become a point where I needed more professional help outside of what I felt like the 12 steps or what I felt like you know my sponsor and people in my program could help me with and at that time I was able to go outside of the program to seek that professional help sorry that was a big way to try to Circle that all back together that’s cool uh I guess try to get us back on his gratitude um you had mentioned a little while back that there was practices that could help increase gratitude and I had a few pulled up I know you had a few pulled up maybe we could talk about some of them and and how people might be able to increase this gratitude thing that we I think and I guess yeah I guess I tie the Gratitude into the like the almost the opposite of self-pity is gratitude so it’s kind of where I was going with that it’s like that self-pity leaves me locked into my addiction whereas gratitude can be a sort of counter to the self-pity so real quick we were talking about the gratitude list and Jason you were saying that there were times in your recovery that you know you were feeling so bad that like a gratitude list didn’t help at all like you could write it and you didn’t it didn’t resonate with you yeah I’m sorry uh I I I can relate to that I think there were times that I was just in such a crappy place emotionally that I would get um instruction from a sponsor usually to to write a gratitude list and I would do it and I’d be like I don’t feel any of this I don’t feel it like I know logically I should be grateful these things today in my life are better than they were back then and I can put it on paper I don’t feel it but what I think would happen is that that would trigger me back into that awareness of like gratitude is a practice that is helpful for me in my life and in the hours days weeks following probably not weeks because my memory is not that good but in the hours and days following it was then top of mind for me because I had had this conversation and I had done this practice that could come back forward almost in my subconscious thought yeah I don’t know I’m just thinking about and and obviously you know uh not trying to go to extremes because that’s you know maybe what I tend to do to prove points or to try to get a point across but just this idea of like the times in my life when I could not seem to get my myself regulated or or could not seem to gather control of myself could not complete five straight days at work without calling out and not being able to get out of bed like at times sat in my room with a loving family two rooms away and thought man there is a bridge a really high bridge like less than a mile away I could just probably Drive off of it there’s not much to feel grateful for in that moment right like when nothing feels good it doesn’t matter if my bed is nicer than the [  ] concrete I laid on some nights I don’t give a [  ] I still don’t want to be here yeah but again [  ] a gratitude list that’s that extreme like your health is at that point you’re not even in a point of functioning at that point I don’t think the gratitude list helps when you literally can’t like function through your day well what’s weird and I wish she was here to expound on it but of course she’s not but my wife you know has suffered with depression at different times same like been like in bed crying can’t get out of bed for days and she said like early on in her recovery back you know she got clean 30 years ago there was more that old school kind of buck up yeah and she said that’s what people would tell her is you better [  ] get up and get grateful and you know what I mean quit and I mean she the way she’s told that story seems like it’s what she needed in the moment I I don’t know you know I I would say there could there could have been a better way to handle that for sure like that probably wasn’t the best way to do it and and she recognizes that too obviously she’s in a place where I think compassion comes first now more so than criticism right but it but you know she had that experience like early on she would say like I couldn’t I almost couldn’t even get out of bed like I was so [  ] up and you know it’s her ex-husband but would be like come on you know you got to get up and get grateful you know look at all this stuff you got going on in your life you know you don’t need to lay here and throw a pity party and you know it wasn’t a compassionate loving way of doing it but it pushed her to do something different yeah I mean I could have pushed her to do something different he could have found her dead when he got home from work that’s true I don’t know man I don’t know I just uh I don’t know back to we were talking about journaling journaling’s number one I got on mine is that the number one for you or it is yeah and I’m not I mean not that I don’t want to recommend that because journaling’s great but any of the things for me things need to be pretty easy and not overly involved you know and journaling to me always feels overly involved I gotta get a book I gotta think about my day I got to start writing it down it’s going to take probably a half an hour feels like a lot and I gotta do it every day which [  ] every day for anything feels hard you definitely have to do it every day but if you get the pen in the book you don’t have to do any of that it generally takes like five minutes to write a page I tried some of it that’s why I haven’t even started yeah I haven’t done I haven’t done it for like two months I will say that but after our journaling episode uh you know nice little plug for that uh I did pick it up and I did it like close to once a week for nine months or something so I I’m still trying to get back started and I probably only judge it because it’s one of those things that I know I should be doing I am sure I would benefit from it and I don’t do it so I gotta criticize it I told Jenny the other day I was so Jenny was on that episode and it was a good episode we were talking about it just within the last week and I was like maybe I should start journaling have I picked up a journal no I haven’t I know that episode I was like I still got a journal it would help me so much well here guys you can good gratitude jar instead which is finding a jar and decorating it and think of at least three things every day you’re grateful for and then put them in the jar and then if you’re ever feeling down you can pull them out and look at them yeah that feels like a lot of work yeah but for you know the just I think even just the process of getting a jar and for people that are creative that could be like a therapeutic process oh I’m not knocking I’m with you yeah so I had uh think about people who have inspired you and what about them was most significant hmm I like that yeah and then write thank you notes I saw that one too yeah thank you notes was interesting here’s a gratitude Rock not gratitude rock yeah uh you pick a rock and you carry it around in your pocket and you said it wherever you go throughout your day um and then whenever you see it or touch it you think of one thing you’re grateful for so like every time you put your hand in your pocket interesting higher wow engage in mental subtraction imagine what your life would be like if some positive event had not occurred and I guess that’s what I do with recovery when I’m in service you know when I go out to other treatment centers and stuff I think man what would my life be like headed if I didn’t have recovery

I’ve found a gratitude Garden a gratitude tree here’s a gratitude box that sounds like the other one we looked at gratitude prompts like I’m grateful for three things I hear I’m grateful for three things I see I’m grateful for things I smell grateful for things I touch feel grateful for things I taste grateful for blue things animals Birds Friends teachers family members things in my home people who hired me Etc that’s kind of interesting to break it down I sort of like that that’s why I kept going with reading them like I’ve never really thought about categorizing yeah or or breaking down my gratitude list into almost the senses like I feel like that’s an interesting way that like to be more curious about gratitude right like huh what what am I grateful for tasting or for hearing right like maybe there’s yeah it’s kind of an interesting thing yeah so maybe maybe use that gratitude reflection gratitude flower okay yeah these are a little ridiculous yeah an acts of service are always another good place to be you know find gratitude if you go out even if it’s not through like a 12-step fellowship or whatever if you go serve it you know a food pantry or a homeless shelter or any of those kind of things that can give you some gratitude [Music] thank you

[Music] yeah I don’t want to waste everybody’s time there’s a million things apparently that they’ve done research on with people measuring their gratitude levels and if they have more or less or Better or Worse of this or that and the other the [  ] list is exhaustive I mean it’s pretty much any possible thing you can have happen as a human is better if you have gratitude like right sleep blood pressure overeating patience resiliency optimistic I’m not going to read the whole thing there’s like literally 600 of them it’s [  ] ridiculous so if you ever thought is gratitude important to have I’m guessing yes just by that um so I I did want to talk about this what I have experienced lately with gratitude um not I guess it comes in different waves or levels or strengths or whatever but but generally lately I’ve been having this pretty intense experience of gratitude and it’s in moments where I am acting different than I’ve ever found myself able to so like the one that sticks out the most I think is just interacting with my kids right and and I’ll I’ll watch myself be different in a situation I’ve told a couple of them on here over the time one was when my daughter came in third running a race and like normally my response would be something like you know hey we’re gonna work on your starts and we’re gonna practice and we’re gonna win them next year or some [  ] and like this time it was just how proud I was of her um and I cried when I said it to her right and it just meant a lot to me and I had another situation with my son a few months later it felt like that too and then you know I’ve had quite a few of them lately um in some of this family work we’re doing and trying to connect and everything and like it really has made me wonder it’s such an overwhelming experience and and I guess the tears being with it I’m like is gratitude just love or is it just some other thing that we’re calling gratitude but like it’s really this profound experience of like love and connection because I don’t ever think of like feeling appreciative to the point where I want to cry not to say that I couldn’t I get that that exists in the world right but I don’t know there’s just something about the way it has touched me lately that has made me wonder like what the [  ] is gratitude really what am I feeling so intensely in that moment that is I mean it’s warm and wonderful and and awesome and I keep trying to create more of that but I don’t know it’s a very in the moment experience it’s not like a a reflective looking back or something I had to train myself for it was like I’m standing there I’m being a good dad that I’ve always wanted to be and I’m loving and caring and I’m just [  ] crying and I’m like it feels like gratitude to me the the biggest form of gratitude but I’m like is it is that a thing is it really just love like what the [  ] is happening here so

well the way and this is probably an oversimplification but the way initially I heard about like the spiritual principles versus like you know addiction was sort of a love and fear thing and and all spiritual principles are in the foundation of love and Goodwill towards others and you know addiction or fear is the opposite like you know right anger resentment all that stuff and so it sounds like you’re just being really grateful for this particular loving experience like your gratitude but the experience was a loving experience yeah I guess the weird part for me is like all this time I’ve thought about writing a gratitude list to increase my gratitude or doing this other thing to increase my gratitude and what it feels like for me and that’s not to say that there hasn’t been like a ton of step work self-reflection therapy practices meditation like there’s a billion things I do for my my you know General well-being regularly um but what it took was like somehow feeling better and like in those moments not once do I have the space or capacity to think oh it’s time to be grateful or this is so much better than before it just comes over me and so from that place I’m like is this really something I was practicing to get to I mean I get that I had to make I had to do some practices in my life to get to the place I’m at to be able to feel free to experience that I guess to get the Clutter out of the way maybe but like I don’t know it just feels so I hate to use the word [ __ ] natural but like it feels like it’s coming by itself well that’s where I think these things get confusing and I think when we talk about love it was similar like these are feelings and practices like they’re they’re two different things and the feeling like I can see my kid and just feel love like I don’t have to do almost anything you know what I mean like I just see my kid doing something fun or smiling or playing at the beach and I’m just overwhelmed by this feeling of love but that’s not the same as practicing love for them by making sure we have electric making sure we have healthy food in the house making sure you know there’s they are slightly different to me though that feels a little bit like chicken or the egg like which came first and would you be able to would you be having those experiences now had you not done everything that came before it I think it’s really hard and I struggle with this a lot to parse out you know what what comes from where like what positive what positive um growth have I seen as a result of actual tangible work that I’ve done versus just changes in time or getting more mature or some other thing like we don’t have a control right this experiment there’s no control so it’s very hard to say okay this was because I was doing XYZ or this is not because I was doing XYZ it’s because of some other thing totally unrelated and that feels a little bit like I I don’t know but I think that you can’t rule out that your ability to have that gratitude now is definitely not because of some of the Gratitude work that you attempted in the past yeah no I don’t think fair I here’s my only little caveat to that it’s like that sometimes feels like I have positive feelings in my life like I can still feel love and gratitude and compassion and all those things despite the fact that I’m in a 12-step Fellowship working steps like those are things that I can feel that other people feel that have never been to a 12-step Fellowship so any time that I have this positive thing going on in my life doesn’t a hundred percent accredit it to the fact that I’m in a 12-step Fellowship working steps now for me the idea of the 12-step process is that those are feelings that I like so I learned to practice them and cultivate them and grow them and keep focused on them um but yeah it’s hard to say because I was in this Fellowship I Feel Love or I feel gratitude right well and that’s I think I think we’re saying the same thing just from different yeah is that it’s you it you don’t know what to attribute it to so you so you can’t say it definitively either way well yeah but if I’m gonna say like some of those gratitude lists I made that felt useless at the time actually helped me get to the place I’m out of gratitude then I also have to say well yeah all the using and being homeless and not feeding myself also helped me in my journey to gratitude 100 I think yeah it doesn’t necessarily mean it was uh I don’t want to label it positive or negative that doesn’t mean that if I want to learn gratitude or experience gratitude from this point forward in my life that those are good suggestions I guess yeah that’s I mean that’s fair yeah don’t do that don’t do any of that stuff again maybe you need to I don’t

I’m not trying to to discredit any piece of my life and what it has helped me get to this point like I think it was all had its purpose I guess or or a point maybe um and yet the thing that’s felt like it’s made a difference and maybe this is something I can try to give newer members to as a way to evaluate like those early practices didn’t feel like they shifted the way I felt inside right whereas like some of the work that I’ve been able to do since then has shifted the way I felt inside and it feels like with the shift of the way I felt all this other [  ] is so much easier to access and practice and do and so maybe that’s the the question for people in 12 steps if they’re wondering do I need outside help or is this gonna be you know quote unquote enough to get me to where I want to be is does the practices you’re doing feel like they’re relieving the misery or pain of your life like if they are then you’re probably on the right track and if they’re not maybe it’s time to look for outside help maybe it’s time to say oh these practices aren’t working maybe it’s not me sucking at life maybe I just need extra help yeah that’s fair enough I think I mean I think that’s what I challenge myself too of why I stay and keep going and do the things that I do like I constantly ask myself is this still working for me like is this still something that has benefit and value in my life yeah yeah somebody asked me recently and I’m just I’m still unsure about this one and maybe you know unless we have other points this will be the last place we go they were asking me if I was proud of myself in a moment for something I had done and I felt like and what I tried to explain to them was that I don’t feel like I really experienced Pride what I feel when people think I would feel pride is gratitude is what I feel is like for me in those moments like I’m not like oh man I’m I’m and you know this is obviously not true now because I’m back to vaping but when I quit vaping I wasn’t like I’m proud of myself for quitting vaping it was like man I am so thankful that I was like this was removed from my life or that I was able to put it down and so I I don’t know if that’s a thing or not like uh is pride actually gratitude or is that something different or I think it’s about where you’re attributing that yeah are you taking credit for the change or are you well yeah in my life concept I I don’t really think people get credit for anything so that probably makes sense that I just think it’s gratitude like this is great the universe let it happen well and I think all right so I go to the gym on a regular basis have done that for years I’m proud of myself for that but I don’t think that’s gratitude for me it’s not gratitude that’s a different feeling and see I’m like I’m sorry I cut you off but I’m like thankful that the combination of the universe and I’m thankful that I’ve been able to dedicate and take care of myself in those moments not like oh yeah I’m so glad I did this it’s more like ah see and that’s where gratitude for me comes in like with my kids and my family and all that stuff I’m like I feel like so much you’re like raising my kids and the people they turned out to be is just I’ll say luck but it’s like that’s just that’s kind of stuff I’m grateful for so much [  ] that’s totally beyond my control that I have absolutely nothing to do with that they are the way that they are that they weren’t in some accident that some horrible thing didn’t happen that there wasn’t some sort of whatever I’m like God I’m just grateful I have these healthy kids in this life and doesn’t that all apply to the gym though isn’t it great that you weren’t in an accident and could keep going all that time regularly and that you didn’t get an injury in the gym and you did it at a mild rate at first to not you know over exert or hurt yourself like I think there’s some gratitude in there but the pride I guess for me is input but I’m a person that has like low self-esteem and self-worth so I think Pride for me is kind of important now I can take it to the extreme and take it to like this ego place that I gotta watch but right I was thinking Pride versus gratitude and what what things in my life am I proud of myself for versus what am I grateful for and the two big ones I think that I settled on was I am proud of myself for finishing my most recent degree I am grateful that I got clean and found 12-step recovery are you proud of yourself for finishing your masters

oh really I don’t so recently ever since I tried to explain that I don’t feel Pride to this person I’ve been wondering if maybe I do recently I’ve felt this experience with being happy with myself and I’m like well maybe that’s Pride yeah I mean that’s what I think pride is pretty happy with myself that’s how I would describe it for me it’s like I’m happy with myself so it’s like but it still feels like it’s a very low level component for me so kind of like you said you feel like your disposition is more just based towards being a grateful person in general I feel like where I’ve gotten to now it feels more like I skew more towards that feels like and maybe that’s just what I believe about the world about how it works like the universe does [  ] and I don’t right I just show up so like maybe that’s where it is but yeah there’s a lot more gratitude than there is happy with myself it’s just like yeah it’s kind of there yeah I’m kind of happy that happened I don’t know does that answer your question I think it does yeah okay was there any more thoughts about gratitude stuff we didn’t cover the only other thing I was thinking with gratitude is it is a thing that there are levels to like I can be grateful that I have a car and a home and all that stuff but I feel a way different level of gratitude when I think about like the health of my kids or my family or my marriage or my recovery like you know there are levels to my gratitude so sometimes when we make a gratitude list if I just list out a bunch of I hate to say surfacy [  ] but the fact that oh I got a nice car and I have nice clothes and I have cable like those are things to be grateful for but maybe there’s some things that are a little deeper that like you said you know being grateful for that moment with your kid brought tears to your eyes like that helps us figure out what our values are and you know what we really have to be grateful for that actually makes me wonder if like people who felt more like I did uh tend to skew towards the the physical things we have because nothing else feels good so that’s the thing where our logic brain can look at and say well I got a bed I got a car I got a job I don’t feel good so I don’t have any of that [  ] I don’t know maybe recognizing like I have quality relationships right people in my life that love and care about me today yeah people that want to know about my well-being like those things yeah yes I try to maybe maybe that’s just a good sign if you’re listening only physical items you have or belong maybe that’s a good sign to like oh [  ] I’m not in a good place I’m not even feeling good enough to recognize my relationships yeah I would agree with that material possessions aren’t necessarily where we’re gonna get you know our best source of Happiness right well I I have nothing else to add I am grateful that we do this show I’m grateful for people who listen that Inspire us to continue recording the show because if not we’d probably just talk and stop recording um I don’t know I’m grateful for a lot in my life and uh glad we could have an episode of talking about gratitude even though I’m still not sure it exists yeah anybody else all right let’s go out there be grateful have a great week we’ll see you next week [Music] [Applause] [Music]

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