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Lessons in Gratitude

Dec 1, 2021

Joanna Ahern | Alumni Care Coordinator

When I first got sober, I hated when people soberer and happier talked about an “attitude of gratitude.” I remember making faces and mocking them from the egotistical, delusional high horse upon which I perched myself.

I was arrogant, ignorant, broken, and miserable.

This emotional dysregulation manifested into some ugly and childish behavior primarily because I couldn’t understand what I was grateful for in my life.

Yea, I was alive and sober, but I honestly couldn’t tell you that either of those things was something that I wanted at the time.

If you or a loved one need help, call our admissions team today at 561-841-1033.

I was a dry drunk and often thought I was better off drunk or dead.

In the beginning, I thought gratitude looked like a grand proclamation to the heavens praising God for his magnificent works in my life. At the time, I felt that I wasn’t worthy of anything, let alone the gifts God gave to others. I constantly looked at the negative and compared my failures to others’ successes.

It wasn’t until my sponsor asked me, “If you were to wake up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for the night before, what would you have left?” That question smacked me into this realization that I would have nothing!

I was selfish and lived in a state of constant comparison and spiritual unrest that left me more miserable than ever.

My attitude of gratitude changed the day I began thanking God for the essential things in my life. Not my car or clothes or other nonsensical objects people often use to determine success but the irreplaceable things: my breath, the love of others, my family and friends, my health, and the ability to see life through a sober lens.

I started to find gratitude in the little things in life like my morning cup of coffee, a conversation with my sister, the sun, and the stars.

I became one of those people I used to mock because I began to see the beauty in the things I constantly took for granted for the first time in my life. As a result, my attitude changed. Life became less miserable and more meaningful.

Gratitude is a choice and one that I don’t perfectly do every day.

But when I try to appreciate even the littlest thing, I am better off even on my worst days. I chose to seek light even in the darkness, and I allowed God to use that light to help others. And for that, I will always be grateful.


Hanley Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting recovery.

For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1033.

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