The meaning of “One Day At A Time”

How can we heal ourselves in the present moment? By understanding and practising a few daily tasks every 24 hours. More here on the meaning of One-Day-At-A-Time, with a section for your questions at the end.

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One Day At A Time = ?

The time to be healed is now. There is no need to postpone the peace, prosperity and abundant life in addiction recovery that we all deserve. Enlightened people throughout the ages have understood this principle.

The Lord’s Prayer says, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Not yesterday’s and tomorrow’s bread…but today’s. “Today is the day of Salvation.” Bill W. suggested that we live “one day at a time,” and that day is today!  All life takes place in the present, this very moment. This moment is a gift, that’s why it is called the present.

But how can we understand this spiritual principle and put it into action? Action that creates real change requires devotion, attention, and focus…in the right direction.  Here, we’ll review some common mistakes people make in early recovery. Then, we’ll talk about how you can apply a few simple suggestions into your “One Day At A Time” routine in order to change your life! Questions are welcomed at the end.

Understanding the Present Moment

When I was getting sober, I struggled with the one-day-at-a-time logic. It didn’t strike me as very profound, because, after all, I had been literally existing one day at a time in active addiction. My life revolved around getting high, right now, today.

In early recovery I spent a lot of my day living in the past, worrying about past misdeeds and mentally revisiting the poor choices that I had made. What a waste of time. I realize now that I had developed and nurtured this fear based habit as a distraction. Even though the past was unpleasant and filled with error, at least I knew what happened. This was less stressful than living in the present or with the uncertainty of the future.

I also spent countless hours daydreaming about what I wanted to do, own, or accomplish “someday” rather than taking daily action to turn my dreams into reality. Granted ,this was more productive than rehearsing the doubt and defeat of my past… but it also was a waste of time. I did not yet understand the line in the serenity prayer, “the courage to change the things I can.” It meant the courage to take action right now. If I want a better future, I need to start building it today.

The lessons of addiction recovery

As the fog of early recovery began to lift I started to appreciate all the gifts my Higher Power had given me. By attending a daily 12-step meeting and listening to people share their experience I adopted a set of principles that works in all circumstances. I was taught to stay in the day and live in the moment. I was told — don’t project — but if you do, project something good. When I would start to worry, I was told to keep my head, my heart, my ass and my ankles in a straight line, right where I am. One day, one moment at a time, I developed the habit of enjoying the present. The lessons I learned in recovery are transferable to all areas of my life.

The Great Equalizer: Your Time

Everyone comes to this world with special gifts and talents. The diversity in our economic, educational, health and family situations is endless. However, time is the one commodity in which we are all equal. No matter our circumstances we all get the same 24 hours in a day.

The typical person devotes eight hours to sleep, eight hours to work and 8 hours to free time. How we choose to invest that FREE time will determine to a great extent the quality of life we will enjoy in recovery. We may call it FREE time but it is an irreplaceable and valuable commodity.

Have you ever gotten out of bed in the morning with an idea of what you’d like to accomplish, then having gone through the day realized that you haven’t accomplished anything you wanted?  There were phones to answer, bills to pay, dishes to wash, but at the end of the day you were no closer to fulfilling your dreams than when you awoke that morning. Many people repeat this process day after day, year after year, and then wonder why things don’t change.

How to master the present moment?

I would like to make a few simple suggestions that I guarantee will help you stay focused and get you the largest return on your daily investment of time. Get ready for them. Simple is not easy.

Develop the habit of writing a daily “To Do” List. This simple idea will pay untold dividends. Your list should be a short synopsis of the major tasks you need to accomplish during the next 24 hours. These tasks should be numbered in order of importance so if you don’t get them all completed at least the important ones get done.

MUST HAVES for a daily “To Do” List

I have a few items that make my list on a daily basis. They have to do with my sobriety, so obviously they are the most important items on my list.

1.  Number one on my list is always prayer and meditation. I have made it a practice to begin my day with prayer and meditation because I have found it sets the tone for all that follows. I also have noticed that if I skip this step my day is usually filled with more stress, drama, and anxiety than is healthy for me.

2.  The second thing on my list is the 12-Step meeting I will attend that day.

3.  The third item on the list is the people in recovery I would like to speak with that day. I make sure that my sobriety, spiritual and emotional health is always my top priority because if I do not stay sober and healthy nothing else I want to accomplish has any chance of happening anyway. Want emotional sobriety in recovery from addiction? These first three suggestions should be repeated daily.

4.  Finally, I write down my business, personal, and family priorities for the day.

My “To Do” list is a great tool for staying present. All through the day as the world distracts me and people grab for my attention it is easy to lose focus. My list gives me an easy way to get back on track and stay focused on what is important to me.

This doesn’t mean that I am closed-minded and don’t look for new opportunities or pathways to success throughout the day. It just means when I find myself drifting into chaos or unproductive thinking patterns, I use my list to get back on track. If I don’t complete all the items on my list I review them and see if they are still important. If they are, then I will put them on tomorrow’s list.

Success, like Sobriety, Happens One Day at a Time

Start right now to invest your time wisely. Turn off the TV and decide what would be the best use of your time. Live in the moment. Pray for guidance. Quiet your mind and listen for the answers. When the answers come, TAKE ACTION. Move forward and don’t look back. Success in life, just like in sobriety, happens one day at a time.

About the author
As founder of the Full Recovery Wellness Center and author of Full Recovery: The Recovering Person’s Guide to Unleashing Your Inner Power, Brian McAlister is dedicated to helping recovering people achieve spiritual, personal and financial empowerment. He understands through personal experience that everything needed to live a harmonious life of progress and prosperity already exists within us. The Full Recovery program is designed to draw it out.
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