"On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day." (86:2)
The programme suggests we have plans for the day. How do we construct one?
First of all:
"Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives." (86:2)
"Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God's will into all of our activities. 'How can I best serve Thee—Thy will (not mine) be done.' " (85:1)
It is clear that our plans should be not about what we want to get out but what we want to put in.
"Giving, rather than getting, will become the guiding principle." (128:0)
"… we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs. More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life." (63:1)
This governs not just what we do but how we do it:
"If it is a happy occasion, try to increase the pleasure of those there; if a business occasion, go and attend to your business enthusiastically." (102:1)
First of all, however, some structure is necessary.
(1) Make sure elements of the AA design for living are incorporated:
· recovery (Step Eleven morning and evening, including a review, Step Twelve work with sponsees, other Step Twelve work, working on whichever Step in One–Nine you are on if you have not completed these Steps);
· fellowship in the form of a meeting (if you're going to one) or some kind of contact with others in the fellowship ("Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives." 89:1));
· service ("Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs." (20:0); "Ask Him in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick. The answers will come, if your own house is in order." (164:2)); this may be both in AA and outside AA—"We feel that elimination of our drinking is but a beginning. A much more important demonstration of our principles lies before us in our respective homes, occupations and affairs." (19:1).
(2) Include some work (job, studying, housework, helping other people with chores or errands).
(3) Include some maintenance (eating, exercise, calling people to deal with current difficulties of your own, etc., rest).
(4) Include some fun. Often, people in AA are miserable because not because there is anything wrong but simply because they're not getting out there and living life to the full. They then become self-obsessed and cowed and wonder why recovery has let them down. Recovery is not a substitute for life. It will take you to the starting line of life. It is up to you to run the race, alongside every other person on the planet. It removes the obstacles to living; it is not, in itself, living.
"We have been dealing with alcohol in its worst aspect. But 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." (132:2)
"Everybody knows that those in bad health, and those who seldom play, do not laugh much. So let each family play together or separately as much as their circumstances warrant. We are sure God wants us to be happy, joyous, and free. We cannot subscribe to the belief that his life is a vale of tears, though it once was just that for many of us. But it is clear that we made our own misery. God didn't do it." (132:3)
Recovery is not an end in itself. The point is learning to live.
"Father will necessarily spend much time with other alcoholics, but this activity should be balanced. New acquaintances who know nothing of alcoholism might be made and thoughtful considerations given their needs. The problems of the community might engage attention. Though the family has no religious connections, they may wish to make contact with or take membership in a religious body." (131:2)