As Billy Manas can attest, getting sober is easy compared to living sober. But if he can do it, so can you, and he’s going to help you with nuts-and-bolts suggestions for finding financial, personal, and emotional well-being to live your own version of a kickass life. Billy’s techniques for getting there are simple yet profound — tackling manageable goals, finding inspiration (in whatever way works for you), asking for help (even when you don’t want to), practicing gratitude and meditation (even if you think they’re silly), and steering clear of people who rain on your parade. Straightforward and doable, these strategies build confidence and build on each other until recovery means not just living but living better than ever.
We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from Kickass Recovery: From Your First Year Clean to the Life of Your Dreams, in which Billy shares the importance of gratitude.
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The idea of projecting a positive vibe is not just a goody-goody way of going through life. I’m not trying to alarm you, but I have seen firsthand how a lack of gratitude led to someone losing their life. This was a man I knew and cared for very deeply. I showed up one night at one of my favorite meetings, and he was chosen to share his story with the group (what 12 steppers refer to as qualify) because he had just gotten his ninety-day key tag. During the qualification, he explained how, a few months before, he had stopped doing service, stopped attending meetings, stopped calling his sponsor, and, finally, after ten years of sobriety, relapsed.
Think about the progression that led to the relapse. A definite lack of gratitude existed there. The only time a person will stop doing all the crucial steps to keep themselves safe is when they stop appreciating how important and lifesaving the steps are. They are no longer grateful for the freedom those things have given them.
I could hear it in his voice when we went out for coffee after the meeting. He was saying everything he thought I wanted to hear, but there was an emptiness inside him that I could feel viscerally. He was being swallowed up by a bad set of circumstances and allowing those circumstances to control his life. Something in my gut was telling me it wasn’t going to end well for him.
This kind of thing happens all the time. Someone suffers a romantic breakup, and the reality of their partner moving on to someone else makes the idea of getting high really tempting. The pain is so great that a person might begin to tell themselves they don’t care if they die. Unfortunately, with the drugs we have going around these days, that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It was really sad when I had to come to terms with the fact that this friend, whom I was sitting face-to-face with months earlier, finally overdosed and died. It was the same story you read about every day: a hot bag laced with fentanyl. The cliché “Grateful addicts don’t use” used to just go through me as a weightless platitude I heard from time to time in meetings. Now it strikes me in a much different way. Now I think of my friend who lost touch with gratitude and is no longer with us as a result.
Gratitude in Advance
In addition to gratitude helping to keep us existing in a high-frequency state, receiving all the good life has to offer and assisting in the process of avoiding jails, institutions, and death, it can also help us achieve our wildest dreams. When I was deep in the process of breaking on through to the other side — that is to say, trying to get an agent and a book deal — I was working with a life coach and learning how to set intentions and manifest those intentions by practicing what I call “gratitude in advance.”
It all began innocently enough. First, I realized in the dead of winter when gigs were not very plentiful that I needed to try to raise an extra $200 a week for the next month. So I set an intention. If you’ve never done this, it requires many of the steps we have spoken about thus far. We make a decision to do something, we take a definite action, and we have faith that it will come to pass.
Part of the last step — the faith process — included my being thankful for, in this particular case, the extra $200 per week that I manifested. Yes, you heard me right. I was grateful for something before I received it. Hence the expression gratitude in advance. I am telling you this story because, of course, I did wind up manifesting that $200 per week for that entire month. And then I used gratitude in advance to manifest a fancy New York City literary agent. And then, finally, a book deal.
You can do the same thing. If there’s something you want to set an intention for, the steps are fairly simple: decide that you are going to get the thing, take an action toward its attainment, and begin to burst at the seams with gratitude in the all-knowing certainty that it is on its way to you. Before you know it, it will arrive.
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Billy Manas, author of Kickass Recovery, is a regularly featured columnist for Elephant Journal, a contributor to The Good Men Project and The Fix, a published poet, a working musician, a full-time truck driver, and a dad to three daughters. His journey from Adderall-chewing, methadone-swilling, pot-smoking maniac to speaker/author with over nine years of sustained recovery was, as is so often the case, fraught with excitement and yielded a few valuable anecdotes. These anecdotes have found their way into his many talks at jails, detoxes, rehabs, and his new “Kickass Recovery” workshop. www.BillyManas.com.