The Art of Living: Digging Deeper

by Rick R.

The first 164 pages of the Big Book contain the framework for how to overcome the disaster of a life consumed by alcoholism. As I drank myself into a corner, ran out of options and desperately searched for answers, something told me to read the book Alcoholics Anonymous. There I found people who had overcome troubling issues in life. Each chapter has a particular subject which explains specific areas we could improve thoughts and behaviors. It seems that if we did what they suggested in those 164 pages, everything would be fine with us alcoholics, but wait! Next, they published The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions to give more amplifying information as to how to incorporate the steps into our daily lives. 

Fear and insecurity dogged me every step 

As I continued to grow in the program, I sought more understanding of the depth of this disease. I began examining how symptoms had developed in me. The first 164 pages scratched the surface of my alcoholism and also challenged my commitment to pursue sobriety. I uncovered many character defects in the facets of my mentality. Fear and insecurity dogged me through every step.

As I became strong enough to overcome an ego-driven approach to these issues, my conscience started getting a foothold. It motivated me to dig deeper, pursue a life based on unselfish principles and abandon my faulty past thinking. I had to come to terms with a power greater than myself. I was encouraged to read a book by Emmet Fox called The Sermon on the Mount, considered to be the inspiration the A.A. founders incorporated into the solution for doubters like myself. It removed my doubts. 

The root of our troubles

Next, I had to learn how to become a good husband, father, friend and coworker. As we share our experiences with each other, we are learning how to address facets of our sick mentality. My wife came home from an Al-Anon meeting in my early years of sobriety. She was all excited about the topic of Examining our Motives. That one little statement changed my entire way of thinking about my behavioral problems. “Selfishness—self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles” (Big Book, p.62).

If selfishness is the root (motive), then unselfishness is the obvious solution. This simple understanding starts the habit of living with unselfish motives. As a result, I am not ashamed of anything I do today. I have a clear conscience, and it is so much easier than I thought it would be. It doesn’t say generous. It just says unselfish (duh!).

photo credits available upon request to thepoint@aasfmarin.org

My conscience started getting a foothold

The world is full of supporting information concerning psychological problems alcoholics face when seeking answers. When we use the word love, I thought it was a feeling. However, I found a version of love in a book by Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled. He defines love as caring for and nurturing another person’s soul. It is an action word. I can love everyone even if they don’t love me back by sincerely wanting the best for them and offering my help.

Using these examples is my way of encouraging everyone who finds it difficult to experience quiet satisfaction from the program. I find answers by looking deeper into the subject. We can seek out the solutions that help set in place those unselfish principles and habits which lead to what an old friend refers to as “Peace of mind and a quiet heart.”

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