It is hard to get to spirituality without being grateful. The way is easy: grace presents the recovery program, and all you have to do is stop fighting it. Gratitude is the natural response to this gift. A thankful attitude helps you to surrender.

Gratitude is an effective cure for self-pity. It is hard to dwell on fear and disappointment that the glass is half empty if you are grateful that it is half full.

Humor break

Science says the glass is full; just half full of liquid and half full of air. Engineering says the glass is twice as large as it needs to be.

Not Stuffing Feelings

We are not suggesting that you deny your feelings. Far from it. Honest sharing of feelings is a major advantage of Twelve-Step fellowships. The problem is getting stuck in negative feelings. Many people struggling with codependency do not understand the difference between feelings and attitudes. So when someone suggests they change a negative attitude, they think the suggestion is to stuff their feelings.

Reasons for Gratitude

If you are in a grateful state of mind, you are closer to spirituality and more advanced in your recovery. Paraphrasing Father Joe Martin, a well-known lecturer on alcoholism, gratitude is the hinge on which the gate to recovery swings.

Turning It Around

A favorite solution for self-pity in the Twelve-Step programs is to make a gratitude list.

Think of ten things you can be grateful about right now. How does that change your attitude? After you have listed everything you can think of, add three things each day. You might find yourself grateful for paper clips and toilet paper.

Telling your Story

The recommended format for telling your story at a Twelve-Step meeting (or most anywhere) is:

  • What it was like
  • What happened
  • What it’s like now

By sharing that in a meeting or with a suffering addict, it will be hard to avoid feeling gratitude and to hold onto self-pity.


Reading the Big Book, As Bill Sees It, or other Program literature can increase gratitude. Most meditation books have an index where you can look up specific selections on gratitude. Read the “Promises” in the Big Book (pp. 83-84).

Helping Others

Reaching out to others who are struggling with recovery is a good way to get back in touch with gratitude. We get out of ourselves when we share with others.

Gratitude, see also: Acceptance, Attitudes, Feelings, Forgiveness, Freedoms, Grace, Guilt & shame, Higher Power, History of Twelve-Step groups, Love & caring, Prayer & meditation, Recovery, Serenity, Spirituality, Step Nine, Step Eleven, Step Twelve, Surrender.

Updated 11 Sep 2015

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