daily reflection: having fun yet?

. . . we aren’t a glum lot. If newcomers could see no joy or fun in our existence, they wouldn’t want it. We absolutely insist on enjoying life. We try not to indulge in cynicism over the state of the nations, nor do we carry the world’s troubles on our shoulders.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 132

When my own house is in order, I find the different parts of my life are more manageable. Stripped from the guilt and remorse that cloaked my drinking years, I am free to assume my proper role in the universe, but this condition requires maintenance. I should stop and ask myself, Am I having fun yet? If I find answering that question difficult or painful, perhaps I’m taking myself too seriously—and finding it difficult to admit that I’ve strayed from my practice of working the program to keep my house in order. I think the pain I experience is one way my Higher Power has to get my attention, coaxing me to take stock of my performance. The slight time and effort it takes to work the program—a spot-check inventory, for example, or the making of amends, whatever is appropriate — are well worth the effort.

daily reflection: we pause . . . and ask

A few hours later I took my leave of Dr. Bob. . . . The wonderful, old, broad smile was on his face as he said almost jokingly, “Remember, Bill, let’s not louse this thing up. Let’s keep it simple!” I turned away, unable to say a word. That was the last time I ever saw him.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS COMES OF AGE, p. 214

After years of sobriety, I occasionally ask myself: “Can it be this simple?” Then, at meetings, I see former cynics and skeptics who have walked the A.A. path out of hell by packaging their lives, without alcohol, into twenty-four hour segments, during which they practice a few principles to the best of their individual abilities. And then I know again that, while it isn’t always easy, if I keep it simple, it works.

daily reflection: serving my brother

The member talks to the newcomer not in a spirit of power but in a spirit of humility and weakness.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS COMES OF AGE, p. 279

As the days pass in A.A., I ask God to guide my thoughts and the words that I speak. In this labor of continuous participation in the Fellowship, I have numerous opportunities to speak. So I frequently ask God to help me watch over my thoughts and my words, that they may be the true and proper reflections of our program; to focus my aspirations once again to seek His guidance; to help me be truly kind and loving, helpful and healing, yet always filled with humility, and free from any trace of arrogance.Today I may very well have to deal with disagreeable attitudes or utterances-the typical stock-in-trade attitude of the still-suffering alcoholic. If this should happen, I will take a moment to center myself in God, so that I will be able to respond from a perspective of composure, strength, and sensibility.

daily reflection: we pause . . . and ask

As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 87

Today I humbly ask my Higher Power for the grace to find the space between my impulse and my action; to let flow a cooling breeze when I would respond with heat; to interrupt fierceness with gentle peace; to accept the moment which allows judgment to become discernment; to defer to silence when my tongue would rush to attack or defend.

I promise to watch for every opportunity to turn toward my Higher Power for guidance. I know where this power is: it resides within me, as clear as a mountain brook, hidden in the hills—it is the unsuspected Inner Resource.

I thank my Higher Power for this world of light and truth I see when I allow it to direct my vision. I trust it today and hope it trusts me to make all effort to find the right thought or action today.

daily reflection: round-the-clock faith

Faith has to work twenty-four hours a day in and through us, or we perish.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 16

The essence of my spirituality, and my sobriety, rests on a round-the-clock faith in a Higher Power. I need to remember and rely on the God of my understanding as I pursue all of my daily activities. How comforting for me is the concept that God works in and through people. As I pause in my day, do I recall specific concrete examples of God’s presence? Am I amazed and uplifted by the number of times this power is evident? I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my God’s presence in my life of recovery. Without this omnipotent force in my every activity, I would again fall into the depths of my disease—and death.

daily reflection: would a drink help

By going back in our own drinking histories, we could show that years before we realized it we were out of control, that our drinking even then was no mere habit, that it was indeed the beginning of a fatal progression.

— TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 23

When I was still drinking, I couldn’t respond to any of life’s situations the way other, more healthy, people could. The smallest incident triggered a state of mind that believed I had to have a drink to numb my feelings. But the numbing did not improve the situation, so I sought further escape in the bottle. Today I must be aware of my alcoholism. I cannot afford to believe that I have gained control of my drinking — or again I will think I have gained control of my life. Such a feeling of control is fatal to my recovery.

daily reflection: happiness comes quietly

“The trouble with us alcoholics was this: We demanded that the world give us happiness and peace of mind in just the particular order we wanted to get it — by the alcohol route. And we weren’t successful. But when we take time to find out some of the spiritual laws, and familiarize ourselves with them, and put them into practice, then we do get happiness and peace of mind. . . . There seem to be some rules that we have to follow, but happiness and peace of mind are always here, open and free to anyone.”

— DR. BOB AND THE GOOD OLDTIMERS, p. 308

The simplicity of the A.A. program teaches me that happiness isn’t something I can “demand.” It comes upon me quietly, while I serve others. In offering my hand to the newcomer or to someone who has relapsed, I find that my own sobriety has been recharged with indescribable gratitude and happiness.

daily reflection: hitting bottom

Why all this insistence that every A.A. must hit bottom first? The answer is that few people will sincerely try to practice the A.A. program unless they have hit bottom. For practicing A.A.’s remaining eleven Steps means the adoption of attitudes and actions that almost no alcoholic who is still drinking can dream of taking.

— TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p, 24

Hitting bottom opened my mind and I became willing to try something different. What I tried was A.A. My new life in the Fellowship was a little like learning how to ride a bike for the first time: A.A. became my training wheels and my supporting hand. It’s not that I wanted the help so much at the time; I simply did not want to hurt like that again. My desire to avoid hitting bottom again was more powerful than my desire to drink. In the beginning that was what kept me sober. But after a while I found myself working the Steps to the best of my ability. I soon realized that my attitudes and actions were changing—if ever so slightly. One Day at a Time, I became comfortable with myself, and others, and my hurting started to heal. Thank God for the training wheels and supporting hand that I choose to call Alcoholics Anonymous.

daily reflection: an unsuspected inner resource

With few exceptions our members find that they have tapped an unsuspected inner resource which they presently identify with their own conception of a Power greater than themselves.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, pp. 567-68

From my first days in A.A., as I struggled for sobriety, I found hope in these words from our founders. I often pondered the phrase: “they have tapped an unsuspected inner resource.” How, I asked myself, can I find the Power within myself, since I am so powerless? In time, as the founders promised, it came to me: I have always had the choice between goodness and evil, between unselfishness and selfishness, between serenity and fear. That Power greater than myself is an original gift that I did not recognize until I achieved daily sobriety through living A.A.’s Twelve Steps.

daily reflection: no regrets

We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 83

Once I became sober, I began to see how wasteful my life had been and I experienced overwhelming guilt and feelings of regret. The program’s Fourth and Fifth Steps assisted me enormously in healing those troubling regrets. I learned that my self-centeredness and dishonesty stemmed largely from my drinking and that I drank because I was an alcoholic. Now I see how even my most distasteful past experiences can turn to gold because, as a sober alcoholic, I can share them to help my fellow alcoholics, particularly newcomers. Sober for several years in A.A., I no longer regret the past; I am simply grateful to be conscious of God’s love and of the help I can give to others in the Fellowship.

daily reflection: it doesn’t happen overnight

We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 85

The most common alcoholic fantasy seems to be: “If I just don’t drink, everything will be all right.” Once the fog cleared for me, I saw—for the first time—the mess my life had become. I had family, work, financial and legal problems; I was hung up on old religious ideas; there were sides of my character to which I was inclined to stay blind because they easily could have convinced me that I was hopeless and pushed me toward escape again. The Big Book guided me in resolving all of my problems. But it didn’t happen overnight—and certainly not automatically—with no effort on my part. I need always to recognize God’s mercy and blessings that shine through any problem I have to face.

daily reflection: accepting our present circumstances

Our very first problem is to accept our present circumstances as they are, ourselves as we are, and the people about us as they are. This is to adopt a realistic humility without which no genuine advance can even begin. Again and again, we shall need to return to that unflattering point of departure.

This is an exercise in acceptance that we can profitably practice every day of our lives.Provided we strenuously avoid turning these realistic surveys of the facts of life into unrealistic alibis for apathy or defeatism, they can be the sure foundation upon which increased emotional health and therefore spiritual progress can be built.

— AS BILL SEES IT, p. 44

When I am having a difficult time accepting people, places or events, I turn to this passage and it relieves me of many an underlying fear regarding others, or situations life presents me. The thought allows me to be human and not perfect, and to regain my peace of mind.

daily reflection: the 100% step

Only Step One, where we made the 100 percent admission we were powerless over alcohol, can be practiced with absolute perfection.

— TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 68

Long before I was able to obtain sobriety in A.A., I knew without a doubt that alcohol was killing me, yet even with this knowledge, I was unable to stop drinking. So, when faced with Step One, I found it easy to admit that I lacked the power to not drink. But was my life unmanageable? Never! Five months after coming into A.A., I was drinking again and wondered why.

Later on, back in A.A. and smarting from my wounds, I learned that Step One is the only Step that can be taken 100%. And that the only way to take it 100% is to take 100% of the Step. That was many twenty-four hours ago and I haven’t had to take Step One again.

daily reflection: united we stand

We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 30

I came to Alcoholics Anonymous because I was no longer able to control my drinking. It was either my wife’s complaining about my drinking, or maybe the sheriff forced me to go to A.A. meetings, or perhaps I knew, deep down inside, that I couldn’t drink like others, but I was unwilling to admit it because the alternative terrified me. Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women united against a common, fatal disease. Each one of our lives is linked to every other, much like the survivors on a life raft at sea. If we all work together, we can get safely to shore.

daily reflection: do i have a choice?

The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 24

My powerlessness over alcohol does not cease when I quit drinking. In sobriety I still have no choice — I can’t drink.The choice I do have is to pick up and use the “kit of spiritual tools” (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 25). When I do that, my Higher Power relieves me of my lack of choice—and keeps me sober one more day. If I could choose not to pick up a drink today, where then would be my need for A.A. or a Higher Power?