What turns on the joy in your life? Children, grandchildren, doing a job well, walking on the beach, feeling loved, or one of many other wonderful things that can turn a bad day into a blessing? These feelings are priceless but ever fleeting.
Truth is, if we rely on feelings, we are a constant roller coaster ride and are destined to rise and fall on the whims of today. Better yet, why not live a life of gratitude which puts us in position to withstand whatever storms may come our way and becomes contagious to those we come in contact with?
The Apostle Paul showed us how: I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13
That was written from prison, why would any grown man in a bad place like that have such a great attitude? Because they can take away all of what we have, but they cannot take away our attitude. It is our choice to flip that happy switch which does not rely on circumstances, but does require building a faith that can withstand any situation.
In the Big Book of AA, in the story entitled "Gratitude In Action", the writer who began A.A. in Canada in 1944 says that alcohol became his best friend, his way to turn on that happy switch, his way of becoming someone greater than he thought he actually was. It caused destruction of his family, losing his job and any self-esteem he ever had, but he still used it until it stopped working. It turned on him and sent him into internal incarceration.
Then, he found something in A.A. - he found God, and he found a God who restored his family, the respect of his wife and children, set him free, and gave him a purpose to show his gratitude daily. And in the conclusion to his story, he tells of how he doesn't have to drink again, he doesn't have to self destruct because he found the key to gratitude and that happy place.
Eloquently he states that key to be: to put his hand in the hand of God and walk with him daily. That's what Paul did and that is why he wrote what he wrote in a dark, cold and thankless prison. He was not where he wanted to be, but he was right where God wanted him to be - and that made him content.
Gratitude creates solutions, it removes the complaining and gets to the gaining of life and meets life on life's terms. We can either embrace it or let it take us back out to use something else that will just leave us more empty.
Want to flip that happy switch? Put your hand in the hand of God and let him flip it for you!
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.