It isn't referred to much by name in the Big Book, but it flavors the whole of the AA program like salt in a stew. AA's big little secret is the practice of gratitude.
When I got to AA I was as mad as a stirred-up hornet. I was angry that I could not drink without problems; resentful that the world had visited this curse on me; and ready to pounce on anyone who crossed me.
I soon settled down as AA members' soothing words and example of love and hope helped calm my agitated mind. I spilled coffee and forgot names less as the days went by, and my body and mind experienced the beginnings of recovery.
The Steps worked me as I worked them. Gradually, almost inperceptibly, life got better. One day I felt the first stirrings of gratitude for what had been given me.
Gratitude began to grow in my heart, replacing fear, resentment, discontent, and self-pity. I began to discover AA's big little secret.
I often borrow or steal outright from others in AA. I borrow hope, steal experience, appropriate love, and grab strength like a kid in a candy store. But I take in order to give it away to someone else. The AA program rots if I do not give freely of what I have been freely given.
The continual practice of gratitude is an antidote against most of what troubles me. At the end of the day, before dropping off to another night of alcohol-free sleep, I try to remember to let my last thinks be thanks.
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