Loving Life when I’m not Loving What’s Happening

Loving Life when I’m not Loving What’s Happening

If you’ve read any of my other blogs or information on this site, you know I’m a life lover. But did you know I get a bunch of slack for it? Did you know some people roll their eyes when I say I love my life? Others say they’re not as interested in loving life as they are in just having peace of mind.

And that’s the beauty of the program. We take what we like, and leave the rest. Just because I enjoy loving life and I’m all about it, doesn’t mean that others have to agree with me. But I should explain that loving life doesn’t mean I love everything that happens in my life.

I think each of us can make a pretty long list of shitty things that have happened to us. Situations that didn’t turn out as we had hoped, people that didn’t live up to our expectations, pain we’ve experienced. Trust me when I say that my list is long.

But somehow I’ve figured out how to separate life loving from having everything go my way. First, I’ve accepted, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that life will NOT always go the way I think it should. Nor will people ALWAYS behave the way I would like them to. Recognizing I’m powerless over that (step one), and it’s crazy to think that I can change an outcome that’s beyond my control (step two), I just surrender that expectation as soon as I’m aware that I’m having one (step three), and replace it with the knowledge that my will (what I want to have happen) may, quite likely, not occur.

How do I know I’m having an expectation? When I feel excited about something, a sense of happy anticipation, getting ready for a good thing to happen, I’m in expectation. It’s at that point that I remember I’m living in the future, and possibly setting myself up to feel hurt, which is a feeling I definitely don’t enjoy.

So what do I do? I immediately recalibrate my expectations. I think to myself “Hey James, remember that this shit may go sideways, and if it does, you’ll be just fine.” I remind myself that, no matter how this turns out, there’s always a plan B, C and D.

When I practice this exercise, I instantly feel anxiety, anticipation, and excitement lose their grip on my mind. And as they do, any potential future resentment begins to melt away.

But doesn’t it suck to live like this? Never being excited? Never being stoked about something great that’s about to happen? No. It’s quite the opposite. I’m stoked knowing I’m going to feel good no matter what happens. My happiness is no longer dependent upon the outcome of a situation or the way someone treats me. I’m at peace and comfortable regardless. I can feel good if it happens or not. Because I’ve told myself, “Don’t get excited James, you know this might turn out exactly the opposite of how you hope it will.”

By applying this attitude in all my affairs, I give myself a much better chance of feeling good no matter how life turns out. Which means that, even when things don’t go my way, and I don’t particularly love the outcome… ILML!

— JamieQ

The Green Zone

The Green Zone

The mind is an unusual thing. Unlike our hands, lips or eyes, our minds aren’t quite as easily controlled. At times they take off on their own, regardless of what we may, or may not, want our minds to do. Thinking, “Grab that cup of coffee,” always works for me. But thinking, “I want to feel better right now,” rarely works in the same way.

So what can we do? How can we tame our feelings when they are out of control? How do we stop destructive thoughts that recycle over and over, like a merry-go-round in our brain?

Here’s my solution: once I’m aware of what’s happening, and I’ve decided I want it to stop, I pick up my bag of recovery tools and inject a strong dose of the solution from each tool into my mind.

Like an engine revving too high, way into the red zone (where everything is NOT okay), I need to bring it back down into the green zone (where everything runs smoothly), before it blows up my life.

Each of the tools I employ are designed to get me out of anger, hopelessness, worry and a feeling of victimization and return me to a place of gratitude, hopefulness, peace and a feeling of abundance.

The actions I’m speaking of are outlined here in this website and in many of my blog posts. Each one is an actual concrete, physical action that requires me to stop what I’m doing and invest time into using the tool, which then results in a positive shift in my perception.

I no longer need to sit around when my mind is thinking about upsetting things, or when I’m feeling down. I’m not interested in being unhappy for even one extra second than I have to. The program offers me a huge array of options to get out of misery and into happiness. And I can do it as quickly as I want, whenever I’m ready.

My feelings and thoughts are not the result of what others are doing to me, or what’s happening in my life—that’s a lie I used to tell myself to play the victim. I now recognize that I have 100% control over my thoughts and feelings. Not 99%, 100%.

The faster I recognize my discomfort, shut my mouth, grab my tools and get back in the green zone, the less destruction I create for myself and others, the more fun I get to have, and the faster I get back into the place where… ILML!

—JamieQ

The Best Words To Use

If I repeatedly make similar suggestions… I am probably trying to control… Trying to control other people only gets me in trouble.”

— Courage to Change

The problem for me is that I really would like them to change their behavior because, at least in my opinion, it’s unacceptable. But I’ve found the word “unacceptable” is, well, unacceptable, since I believe that acceptance is the first part of the answer to all my problems. The second part is either to take reasonable action or let it go.

A better solution for me is as follows: First I identify what behaviors from others make me uncomfortable. (Hint: writing these down helps.) Next I let others know—in a kind way—when it occurs (they don’t have ESP), and how I will handle it. Finally, I practice consistency in identifying the uncomfortable behavior and detaching, allowing others to learn what is, and is not, ok with me (in other words, they usually get tired of me detaching and stop behaving in ways that make me uncomfortable and cause me to detach).

In detaching I’ve found the best words to use with others are something like:

I’m uncomfortable and need a little space to work my Program. We can talk later.

Then I must quickly separate myself physically from that person before I react. In this way I take myself out of the problem and into the solution. I let the other person clearly know that I’m uncomfortable without blaming, and simultaneously keep my side of the street clean (no amends required).

Each time I do this, I celebrate a little victory, because whenever I apply the principles of the program… ILML!

— JamieQ

What an Idiot

If you keep saying things are going to be bad, you have a good chance of bing a prophet.” 

– Issac B. Singer

Sounds pretty similar to what I say frequently, “Be careful of what you’re saying out loud and to yourself, because your mind is listening and it believes you.”

Of course, it’s impossible to always think and say things that are positive. But what is possible is to catch ourselves when we do think or say things that are negative, and then take contrary actions.

Here’s a very clear example of how I practice living in the solution and getting out of negativity: 

After spilling the milk at home alone, I say out loud “What an idiot!”

Awareness hits me and I think to myself, “I just called myself an idiot, that’s not kind or productive.”

Which prompts me to take action by saying the contrary thing out loud, “Actually, I’m not an idiot, I’m a really smart guy who just made a mistake because we human beings do that, we make mistakes.”

Which evokes a feeling of success and celebration, causing me to yell out, “I’m stoked I caught myself, that’s a victory, you rock James, I love my life.”

Which puts a big smile on my face. I’m smiling after spilling the milk. That’s rad!

This process, once practiced, can become an automatic way of life, regardless of who, what or where the negativity is directed.

So the next time you start thinking upsetting thoughts, or speaking things that are fearful or unkind, give it a shot. And remember, it all starts with awareness.

Whenever I use the tools of the program to change the way I think and speak, from negative to positive, ILML!

— JamieQ

My Own Private Purgatory

“I suspect that if I reclaimed all the minutes, hours, and days I’ve sacrificed to worry and fear, I’d add years to my life.” — Courage To Change

As you can see by the attached image, this is my favorite page in the book. I particularly love the line “break the cycle of worry and fear.” That’s one of the gifts the program has given me: a way to break that vortex of insanity. Me and my life are wasted away in those moments when I mindlessly recycle thoughts self-pity, resentment, frustration, inadequacy, fear, debasement, and indolence.

And in that process, I’m not the only one that loses out. All those that love, care and depend upon me lose out as well, while I check out of life and into my own private purgatory. Luckily, AA and AlAnon provide the lifeline back to sanity, love and life.

The more I dig into the program, the stronger and more accessible that lifeline becomes. For I believe that, no matter how spiritually and emotionally fit I become, there will undoubtably come a time when I will need help to get back. And when I do, I’ll reach out for that lifeline, discover it’s there, and allow myself to be pulled back into safety by the Program and all of you, where I am returned to sanity, and once again… ILML!

– JamieQ

Desires or Peace

“Sometimes… we wonder if our desires will ever be fulfilled… But some things take time. Be patient. Relax and trust. Let go. Then, let go some more. Good things are planned for us. Relax and trust.” – The Language of Letting Go

Today I know that not all my desires will lead to happiness. Some, if fulfilled, would cause me pain. Having faith that the loving energy of life (my HP) brings to me only the ones that help me love my life, is a great comfort today. In the past I’ve push and struggled to get the others, only to suffer later when I got what I asked for. Today, I relax and search for peace more than the fulfillment of my desires. And when I approach life like this, I can’t help but be grateful. ‘Thank you God for what you have given me, thank you for what you have taken away, but mostly, thank you for what is here now.’ ILML – James

Eternally Grateful

“Through prayer, and meditation I open channels, then establish and improve my conscious contact with God… By maintaining my spiritual condition, by giving away what had been so freely given to me, I am granted a daily reprieve.” – Daily Reflections

When I have it, money is nice. So is being married to my wonderful wife. As is owning a small business and being the father of 4 great kids. I’m grateful to live in a safe, cozy apartment (both in Maui and Santa Monica). But as great as it is to have these people, places and things in my life, they are the benefits of the peace I get from working the program, rather than the source of it. Without my commitment to the program, even if I had all these gifts, I couldn’t appreciate them or be happy. I thank the 12 steps and all of you for showing me the way. I am eternally grateful and ILML! – James