just for today

This pamphlet is an elaboration of the principles brought forth in the popular message, "Just For Today," read by many people in Twelve Step programs                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     First published July, 1985.Copyright © 1985, Hazelden Foundation.

JUST FOR TODAY... I will live only these precious 24 hours, I will focus on now. I needn't contemplate the entire tapestry of my life, I need only consider how I shall weave the pattern of today with the thread of minutes and hours that is mine. I will cherish the day as if it were my last. Today is yesterday's much-anticipated "someday"-tomorrow's longed-for "back when." I will hug this treasure of today to my chest, and regard the wonder of it with the same joy I behold a newborn. This day is new, and so am I. Today I will not relive the past. I may look back, but I will not stare. I cannot live yester­year's glories, nor can I erase yesterday's mistakes. In retrospect, I see how each event, joyful or sad, has led me to becoming who I am today. I will view my life as a journey, and gain perspective. I will not regret the past, but learn from it. Today I will not agonize or worry about the future. Worrying is a waste of time. How many people, long since gone, worried that the Civil War would come? It came anyway. How many people have abandoned their businesses and homes to stand on a hill awaiting the end of the world? It hasn't happened yet. Tomorrow comes, for good or bad, despite the time I squander in anticipation. I will plan for tomorrow, live for today.

If my waking hours are spent recalling the past or anticipating the future, I am throwing away life's most precious gift; today. As such, I am throwing away life itself. For these 24 hours, I will give the day its due; I will start over tomorrow.

Today is my opportunity to start afresh. I am not responsible for yesterday or tomorrow. I am only responsible for today, and how I choose to live it. I will be here now.

JUST FOR TODAY... I will be happy. It is my choice to be happy. I know that my attitude determines my state of mind. With a positive attitude and an open mind, I insure that I will retain my serenity no matter the circumstances of the day.

I am responsible for my happiness. I am not a puppet, controlled by the whims and moods of others. I have no control over others. I do control how I choose to react. I am not a button to be pushed by irritating co-workers, willful children, or honking strangers. I am like a deep, peaceful pool, unaffected by the winds which blow across my· surface. My peace and my happiness come from within, and cannot be taken from me.

"Others may act in a hurtful or irritating manner. I do not have to take it personally. I realize that another person's behavior toward me may say far more about them than it does me. If I am doing the right thing, I need not accept pain, anger, frustration, or blame. Nor will I blame others. I will remember that few people are evil; they may act as they do because they are insecure and ignorant - and neither circumstance warrants my becoming upset. I will give others the benefit of the doubt.

If pain is constant in my life, it indicates a need for me to change. Just as I would seek help in treating physical pain, I must resolve unhealthy attitudes and situations. I may treat it with prayer, talk with a trusted friend, seek professional help, but I will accept the truth that pain is optional.

Today I will foster happiness in myself and others with a ready smile, gentle manner, sunny outlook, and confidence that happiness is God's plan for all people.

JUST FOR TODAY... I will accept whatever is; I will not manipulate people and circumstances to suit my desires. I will let go and let God.

I will accept the premise that things happen for a reason. A circumstance may arise that I did not plan on or even desire. I will accept it as an opportunity. Instead of fighting the situation, I will look for the lesson to be learned. Instead of crying, Why me? I will ask, What can I learn from this?

As I leave behind my old behavior of trying to control everything and everyone, I will delight in the discovery that letting go and letting God brings prompter and more positive results than I ever dreamed. I will even learn to welcome the unexpected situation, as I search eagerly for the lessons which will help me grow to become wiser, more capable, and understanding.

Acceptance often entails forgiveness. I cannot deal with reality if I am continuing to nurture hurt, regret, or anger. I cannot move forward dragging this old baggage. The question is not, Do my enemies - those who have hurt me - deserve my love, but, Do I deserve my love? I will act in my own best interest by forgiving and accepting others. The past cannot hold me if I do not hold it.

Perhaps those who pass through my life are not friends or enemies, loved ones or strangers, as much as they are my teachers, each bringing a lesson, an example. Is there a trait I can emulate, one I should avoid? What does my reaction to this person -or that group - say about me? As I accept other people as they are, so I will gently accept myself, knowing that I am trying to become the person I was meant to be.

As I learn to let go and let God, I know inner peace. Peace and harmony pervade all my relationships. I am prosperous and my life is successful.

JUST FOR TODAY... I will stretch my mind. I will consider a new idea, tackle a fresh topic, rethink a long-held opinion. I will learn something.

I recall the excitement of the first day of school, the anticipation as a child awakening to a long summer day. Do I have that sense of curiosity, that joy in learning, that delight in living? Have I allowed myself to grow bored and narrow in my thinking and my interests? If I am not constantly mentally growing and stretching, then I am not truly alive. Learning keeps me excited, anticipatory, stimulated, interested - and young in attitude. Old people who seem young are still learning.

As an adult, I do not have to learn in order to pass a test or earn a grade. Now I can learn for my own satisfaction, not to please a parent or impress a teacher. Nor need I undertake a broad, intellectual endeavor. Learning may be as simple as picking up an unknown magazine at the 'newsstand, going to a foreign film, eating at an ethnic restaurant, visiting a museum or art gallery, or attending a concert.

Now is the time for me to renew abandoned interests and to develop new ones. I may recover an old enthusiasm as I dig out the paints from the back of the closet, take my dusty collection from the attic. Inexpensive classes enable me to finally learn to swim, decorate cakes, snap better pictures, or speak a new language in time for my next vacation I can join a bowling team, take up skiing, master the rules of football, take out a library card, or drift through the sky in a hot air balloon.

Today I will stop saying, "Someday I'll ..." and dare to make my dreams and fantasies come true. Boredom and dull routine have no place in my life as I stretch and grow toward my potential of being an interesting person to others and to myself.

JUST FOR TODAY... I will exercise my soul, growing emotionally and spiritually. I will learn the truth of the saying "It is more blessed to give than to receive" by extending myself to help another person without expecting thanks or even credit.

As I step outside myself to help another, I leave my own problems behind for a time and gain perspective on them. How often, in advising another, do I remind myself of wisdom I have forgotten to practice? Listening with care and concern to the problems of others expands my knowledge of the world and my understanding of human nature. Time sincerely invested in another person is seldom wasted.

I will grow emotionally as I learn to identify my feelings and to voice them before resentment and anger have the chance to build. I cannot expect even those who know and love me best to read my mind; I must take responsibility for my own emotional health by understanding myself so that I may help others to know me. Honesty with myself is essential if I am to be honest with others.

I can grow, too, by becoming more flexible, more spontaneous. Instead of meeting an idea or suggestion with why? I will ask myself, Why not? I will embrace life, not reject it. I will be as generous with myself as I am with others. I will be a yea-sayer, not a nay-sayer. I will not stew about small things. Asking myself, Will it matter in 50 years? is a way I can keep my life in perspective and inject a little humor into daily living, too. Today I will keep my emotions from leading me astray by asking myself, ls this the right thing to do? I am unerringly guided by that small voice within, which as a child, I knew as my conscience. Now I recognize it as a Higher Power which directs me toward good. When my emotions rage, I will sit quietly and listen for the guidance that is sure to come. There are no shortcuts to happiness. By doing the right thing in every circumstance I know the peace and emotional stability I long for. By doing the right thing I pay my dues to life; I pay my rent for space on this lovely earth.

JUST FOR TODAY... I will be agreeable; I will reflect the expression and attitude I seek in others. I will not find fault or complain. If I must correct children, students, or co­ workers, I will do it kindly and in private, first pointing out what they are doing right before I call their attention to what should be corrected. If I am simply finding fault with another, I will look to myself first, remembering that when I point one finger of blame, three more point right back at me.

I will remember to smile. It will make me feel as good as the person who receives it. Anyone I may approach today will be more receptive to my requests and ideas if I present a pleasant, nonthreatening face to the world. My smile and friendly greeting may be the pick-me-up some­one needed today. A smile won't break my face, and it may help heal another's broken spirit.

I will be as courteous to my family as I am to strangers. If charity begins at home, then so must the kind ness, understanding, good will and encouragement that builds another's spirit and confidence. Those who love me deserve my best, not my least.

I will try to look my best. I needn't look like a movie star in order to make the most of nature's gifts. The picture I choose to present to the world illustrates what I think of myself, and may be my only opportunity to indicate that I am a person worth knowing.

Instead of searching for the right person, I focus on becoming the right person.

Today I rate an A as I make an effort to be agreeable, approachable, and attractive.

JUST FOR TODAY... I will be organized. I will set goals and make a plan for myself, so that when the day is done I can be satisfied with what I have accomplished.

By becoming more organized, I eliminate much of the clutter and chaos from my life. I will keep it simple at home and work by discarding items I do not use and by eliminating unproductive tasks. I will set in order the tools of work and leisure. I remember that disorganization is often a form of rebellion - like a teenager's messy room - but I am the one who suffers from the confusion in my life. If becoming organized seems an impossible task, I will borrow or buy one of the many books on the subject.

I will set for myself goals both simple and demanding, ranging from trying to smile more to taking a step toward achieving a long­ cherished dream. I will write out my goals so that I may maintain my focus and feel the warm flush of success as I check off each accomplishment. I will not waste energy by talking of my goals. I will act. I know that all great achievements begin with small steps. Today I will begin my journey.

I will find it easier to accomplish my goals and avoid procrastination if I listen to that insistent voice within which directs my dreams and desi res. Child hood's conscience is adulthood's Higher Power speaking. The voice is not my enemy, trying to pull me away from pleasure. It is my friend, nudging me toward my goals. I know my hopes and dreams are direction­ pointers from God. I do not dream of the impossible.

Organization, and honesty, will help me be responsible. Honesty and responsibility equal integrity. I gain by becoming organized and setting goals.

JUST FOR TODAY... I will enjoy a period of solitude to replenish my soul and insure serenity as a 24-hour state of mind.

As I work to become all that I can be, to accomplish all that I am capable of , I will remember that quiet contemplation is necessary to recharge my spiritual, emotional, and mental batteries. Time spent alone provides me with a perspective on my life that I cannot see when I am busy with daily demands.

I will not rush from activity to activity. I will allow the experience, the import, the enjoyment of each moment to soak in. How often have I longed for the days when time seemed to move more slowly? I know that I cannot slow down the world, but I can slow down my experience of it. I will leave myself ample time between activities so that I do not rush. During busy times, I will remember to breathe deeply, knowing that as I do so I inhale the energy of the universe and I am refreshed.

As I go through my day, I will stop to examine whether I am being efficient or frenetic. If I feel compelled to be constantly busy or in the company of others, perhaps I am avoiding quiet time alone because I do not wish to face myself. It is in solitude that I can best learn who I am. I in stillness I can hear God voicing the direction in which I should go.

I needn't feel guilty or defensive over how seek my solitude. I will take at least a half -hour each day for myself to be quiet and alone, whether it is closing my eyes as I ride the bus, enjoying summer clouds, bowing my head in church, or sitting in formal meditation on the floor of my room.

A regular period of solitude and application of the serenity prayer, go hand-in-hand to insure a peaceful state of mind.

JUST FOR TODAY... I will be unafraid. I will remember the words of Madame Curie: "Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood."

I know that "for all things there is a season" and for all things there is a reason. Whether I like the circumstances in which I find myself, I have confidence that there is a purpose, even if it is not immediately evident to me. I don't have to be afraid in any circumstance; I have only to look for the lesson I must learn. How many times have I lost an opportunity because I was afraid of something new, of testing myself, of failing? I k now that opportunity is God's invitation for me to grow and excel. When opportunity knocks, I must get up and answer; action is the key to my success. As I look back at opportunities I have let slip through my fingers - or even t hose at which I made a halfhearted attempt - I see that I lost out not because I am stupid or unworthy, but because I was afraid. Knowing My Higher Power is presenting me with a chance to grow, to realize my dreams, I need never fear opportunity again. I am not afraid of life's challenges when I am prepared for them. I can prepare in several ways: by taking a small step each day toward realizing a dream , putting myself in another's place and speculating on what I would do, trying to do the right thing in every situation in my own life, and meditating or praying regularly to keep in tune with my Higher Power.

The next time I feel afraid -whether of making a speech or being involved with others in a potentially awkward situation -I will look to my Higher Power. I will say, "Thank you for the right words at the right time. Thank you for giving me the words and the actions to help others." With such gratitude in my heart, I am assured I will do and say the right thing at the right time. If I always try to do the right thing, I have no reason to be afraid. I put my hand in God 's, JUST FOR TODAY, and all is well.