Gratitude Lists

Gratitude Lists

Many of you may be already doing a gratitude list each day. Many in your journal, others maybe digitally. Some of you don’t do them yet, and that’s ok. Hopefully though, you’ll be encouraged to do them by this post!

For years I’ve been sending out, and receiving, gratitude lists to many others via text. Their lists encourage and remind me to do my list, and vice versa, while we also get to share some of the most wonderful parts of our lives with each other.

So, without further ado, here’s my list today…

Grateful…

For the life I have today. Sometimes I’m not sure how I got from there to here, but it’s really epic.

Can’t believe I’m living in beautiful Maui, in an incredible home with ocean views, and have an amazing sober, loving tenant that helps me take care of the property.

We get to have both an AA/AlAnon double winners meeting on Sundays and a Life Lover meeting on Thursdays at our property. So rad.

Love my new sponsee. Building close relationships with other men in the pursuit of helping them love their lives and become even better versions of themselves is such an honor.

So blessed to my a family and children who give me love, and allow me to love them, more than I had ever thought possible.

Many of my current sponsees have become my best friends. Men I would trust with my life and family. Men I can count on, who are always there for me, as I am for them. Men I am truly proud of.

My the therapist, who just yesterday took me on a wonder 45 minute meditation, whereby the flow of my breath, in and out, matched the vision in my mind of the ocean flowing over the sand and back out, like the breath of our planet.

Open mindedness. Over the last 10 years or so I’ve noticed an increased willingness of exploration into new ways to expand both my love of life and my connection to source. My contempt prior to investigation is waning, finally.

Consistency and self-discipline in recovery. Because I’ve now identified a direct correlation between the practice of my recovery rituals and the strength of my capacity to love life, I’ve really stepped up my game in this area, and it’s paying off in huge dividends.

My ability to be self-supporting. It doesn’t matter how much money I make, what’s important is that I’m making my best effort to try to financially support myself and those who are financially dependent upon me.

From a lost, struggling alcoholic, druggy kid who was angry at his parents and the world, sleeping in alleys, bus depots, abandoned cars and homes, to the man I am today and the life I’m living. If that’s not a miracle, I’m not sure what is.

ILML!

Thoughts Create Feelings

“Until today you may not have been aware of how unkind, unsupportive, impatient, critical, angry, frustrated and rough you can be with yourself. Just for today be aware of how you treat yourself.” — Until Today, March 8th

Ask yourself this. If you knew you’d live 30 more years, and decided that you were going to really love life to its fullest and be super happy, but also knew that you would never have an intimate, loving relationship with another person, how would you do it?

In other words, if the ability to use a relationship to make you feel fulfilled, loved and happy was removed from the picture, how would you live life to the fullest and be happy?

This exercise allows you to live the life of your dreams without needing another person to make it happen.

Once you’ve figured out how to do this, the relationships that are unhealthy will begin to fall away, making room for those that will, emotionally, be much healthier for you.

Get it?

Please don’t see this exercise as an opportunity to punish or beat yourself up, to be the victim, or to deprive yourself. Rather, see it as an opportunity to get out of this idea that we NEED a someone else to love us in order to be happy.

It’s totally reasonable to desire loving people in our life and to enjoy those relationships. But when we stop NEEDING that to be fulfilled, we cease to become dependent on having or keeping a relationship in order to be happy. I can’t ever expect to love my life “no matter what”, if it DOES matter what. If I NEED to have —— , or NEED to do ——, or NEED to earn ——, or NEED to feel —— to be happy, I’m missing out on being happy right now!

I’ve mastered the ability to shift my thoughts to produce the feelings I want. This ability was really important to me because I want to feel good, and to do so, now all I have to do is think “good” thoughts.

Do thoughts that make me uncomfortable pop into my head? All the time!

The difference between me and those that aren’t loving life or are dependent on something happening to love life, is that they allow those thoughts that make them feel uncomfortable to hang out for a lot longer. It’s a simple math equation: the shorter amount of time that you allow yourself to think about things that are upsetting, the more time you’ll have each day to feel great!

In other words, the longer we allow our negative thoughts to percolate, the less we love life.

There are lots of reasons people allow this:

They may like being intellectual.

They may have a victim mentality.

They may like the attention they get when they tell others about their pain.

They may not know how to stop.

They may be too lazy to take the actions required to shift their thoughts.

They may not feel they deserve to be happy and love life. Their may be some shame.

They may feel that ruminating, contemplating, investigating, and searching for ways to fix the problem will eventually allow them to uber one it and one day be happy again (I get this answer a lot).

They may be using (alcohol, drugs, women, gambling, work, caretaking, etc) to take away the pain and obscure their feelings.

Of course there are many more reasons. But I came to this understanding about myself at 20 years sober, in 2002, when I really dove into the program, treated it like an educational class, and came up with a system of recovery that works really well for me.

And as a result of practicing it diligently, ILML!

– JamieQ

A Small Price to Pay

A Small Price to Pay

By working this step, we keep the cobwebs out of (our life).” – Reaching for Personal Freedom

This morning, working on the 10th step in my work book, I came across that sentence. Cobwebs are fine when they’re catching pleasant memories. But when they catch ahold of fears, problems, self-pity, anger, frustration and hopelessness, those cobwebs have to be swept away or they will destroy me.

The only way I’ve discovered how to eliminate such cobwebs from my life is to approach them like a final exam in college that I really need to get an A in.

Having had a difficult time keeping my attention focused throughout my life, I had to work super hard in college to get good grades. While others, like my younger brother, could get A’s by just glancing at text books and attended some classes, I had to approach college differently.

I would read the text book. Then read it a second time with a highlighter in my hand, highlighting what I thought might be on a test. Then I’d write out, in a notebook, everything that I highlighted. Then I’d read it into a tape recorder. Then I’d listen to what I read over and over. Plus, I made sure to attended every class and took copious notes. I even sold my notes to others, they were so good. Ever the entrepreneur. I ended up scoring very high in college, but it was really, really hard work and very, very long hours.

I approach my program the same way. The prize isn’t A’s —it’s something even better: when I make working my program, growing spiritually, and carrying the message to others the priority in my life, and I commit at least a couple hours each day doing it, I get to be rocketed into the forth dimension and have a life beyond my wildest dreams. I also get to have great relationships with others and love the man I’m becoming. It’s so cool.

So each day, when I awaken, I resolve for that day to allocate the first couple of hours to working my program, which I call the Daily Deal. I think it’s a small price to pay in order to get an attitude of gratitude and be happy, joyous and free.

Because… I’ve learned that when I make recovery my priority… ILML!

— Jamie Q

Life Gets Lifey

Life Gets Lifey

Lack of power, that was our dilemma.” AA, pg. 45

I’m part of a group of individuals that sends out gratitude lists back-and-forth, between each other, on almost a daily basis. This morning I received a gratitude list from someone who works a rigorous 12 step spiritual program of action. In it, she said, “I don’t try and control things as much as I used to.”

It made me think that, although the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous were correct in the fact that lack of power was our dilemma, particularly with regard to alcohol, I’ve found that in long-term recovery, it’s lack of control that seems to be at the root of many of my troubles.

Whether I’m willing to admit it or not, I tend to want people to do the things that I want them to do, act the way that I want them to act, and speak to me the way I would like to be spoken to.

I also tend to want situations to go the way that I want them to go, how I think they should happen, Because I believe that would be the best outcome not only for me, but for everyone else to.

And I’m very clear as to what I would like to happen with regard to the health of my body. I’d like to always be strong, healthy, slim and attractive.

Well, at 57 years old I’ve finally begun to realize that life doesn’t always turn out exactly the way I’d like it to go. As I often say, without my ability to manage, direct and control everything, life tends to get lifey.

More often than not, people have an inclination to do what they would like to do, rather than what I would like them to do.

Things that I’ve planned often turn out differently than I hoped.

And my body, well, it has this weird way of getting older and, well, heavier. LOL. I also noticed that the older I get, the more I experience strange aches and pains, some of which have actually required medical intervention.

So you see, my ability to control people, places and things is really just an illusion of control. As they say in ALAnon, I’m really only in charge of what’s happening inside my hula hoop. And even then, at least when it comes to my human body, I’m really not in complete control of that either.

What I have learned to control is the amount of energy I put into becoming the best version of me I can possibly become. That includes doing things that positively feed my mind l, body and spirit. In these situations, the only one I’m battling for control with, is my DisEase. He would certainly prefer that I spend zero time taking care of myself spiritually, emotionally and physically because the more pain I am in, the more likely I will hurt others and hurt myself.

So again, just for today, like most of the days over the last 17 years of my life, I’ll make my recovery a priority. Because when I put first things first… ILML!

Investing in the Great Life

“Faith is a spiritual skill to be cultivated.” – Hope for Today

The reason that this particular excerpt resonates so well for me is that it pinpoints this reality:

If I want to attain & maintain something valuable to me in this life, I need to step up and do the work to get & keep it.

That means that I need to invest the time and energy to take specific concrete actions in order to help me move closer to my goal.

It’s sort of like working an actual job. If I want to earn money, I need to put in the work. Right?

Faith is exactly the same. If I suddenly fully believe in something (like God, the program, living in the moment, etc) I will attain both enlightenment and receive all the gifts that come with it. Nope. That’s not how it works.

In order to feel great, think positively, have an attitude of gratitude, get and stay spiritually connected, have fantastic relationships, experience the most amazing life I possible can, I have to invest the time, energy & work to get it.

This is where the rubber meets the road. Want a great body! Great! But you’ll need to work for it. Start by switching to a super healthy diet, you’ll likely feel like your starving for a while. Now do rigorous strength exercises six days a week making sure you get at least 45 minutes of heavy cardio in. You’ll likely be very sore for awhile. But, if you do the work consistently no matter how you feel, it’s guaranteed: you will have a great body.

When it comes to earning money and physical health, there’s no magic pill or shortcut to attain success.

The same is true for all the rest. I have to invest in a great life if I want one. When I spend the 2 hours each day practicing my spiritual, emotional, and physical work, followed by 8-10 hours of financial work, making sure I leave time each day to be of service to others and engage in fun hobbies and recreation, I get to be rocketed into the forth dimension, my faith in this process continues to grow and… ILML!

— JamieQ

Loving Life is a Miracle

Loving Life is a Miracle

It’s impossible to feel like life is full of miracles while addicted to drugs and alcohol. But getting, and staying, sober wasn’t all I wanted—I wanted to love my life so much that I’d feel like shouting it out every day!

Today I do, and it’s amazing. Here are the three steps it took (and continue to take) to become someone who spends most of my time loving life, being happy, joyous and free.

The first step was for me to decide that, since I was now sober, becoming a life lover was my next top priority. More important than making money. More important than accomplishing other tasks. More important than putting others’ needs above mine. I became willing to take any and all positive actions I could to love my life. Not just like it, love it!

Once that commitment was out of the way, the second step was to have a consistent morning routine which included meditation, connecting with source, mirror talk, singing, dancing, showering and straightening up, exercising, reading and listening to things that are uplifting, writing out what your grateful for, and taking a written inventory of my last 24 hours and writing down how I felt at that moment. Sounds like a lot? It is. Nothing great happens without commitment and work. I spend a lot of time and do a lot of work each day to love my life, and it’s 100% worth the investment.

The third, and perhaps most important, way to assure that I would love my life, and continue to do so, was to share my passion for loving life with others and help them discover how to be a life lover. I do this in meetings (AA, AlAnon, NarAnon and Life Lovers) and with everyone I meet. There’s a sign on the front door to my office “If this door is locked we’re out loving life!”, and notes all over my home about gratitude and loving life. As we’ve heard many times, “We have to give it away to keep it”.

Today I choose to believe that EVERYTHING is a miracle, because when I live in that frame of mind… ILML!

Only Powerless Alone

Only Powerless Alone

“We admitted we were powerless…” Step One, AA

We are not really powerless. We have the power to drink alcohol. We have the power to use drugs. We have the power to live selfishly. We have the power to focus on how bad life is. We have the power to blame, hurt others, hurt ourselves, be angry, live in self-pity and hate our life. We have lots of power.

What most of us have come to realize is that, alone, by ourselves, without the help from others who have overcome those things in life that have held them down, we cannot change the trajectory of our life. We cannot stop drinking and drugging. We cannot stop blaming and feeling hurt. We cannot love our lives.

So when we say we are powerless, what we really mean is help me. I’m powerless to become what I want to be without help. I’m powerless to change all the behaviors that hurt me and others without help. I’m powerless to create a life I love, to really love myself, without help. Please, help me.

The beauty of the program is that we get to meet others who have overcome their powerlessness through the help of others, and transformed a life of misery into a life they love. And by learning from them how to do this ourselves, we then get the opportunity to have that life beyond our wildest dreams, and help others to have one too. It’s an endless circle of love. Loving others, loving ourselves, loving life.

And when I get, and stay, right in the middle of that circle, while reaching out my hands to as many others as I can to bring them in… ILML!

— JamieQ