Humans spend too much time focused on the future or the past. Most of the things that people waste their time worrying about in the future will never happen. Spending too much time focused on the past is also unhelpful because what’s done is done. It just makes more sense that people should try to live one day at a time. This does not mean having a cavalier attitude towards the future, just that people have a more balanced approach. Living in the day can be particular important for people who are recovering from an addiction. If they try to take on too much at one time it might lead to disaster. One day at a time is a sensible approach in recovery.
The one day at a time philosophy is most associated with12 step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. It is often claimed that the person at an AA meeting with the longest sobriety is the one who got up earliest that morning. This further reminds newcomers that it is only really possible to stay sober for 24 hours. This is because the group does not believe in a cure for addiction. There is only a daily reprieve dependent on practicing the program. The AA member does not need to worry about staying sober for the rest of their life. Instead, they only have to make it through the next 24 hours.
The _just for today card_ is often read out at 12 step meetings. It includes a several commitments that people pledge themselves to stick to over the next 24 hours. It includes the intention to:
* Live through just one day and not try to deal with all of life’s problems at once.
* Commit to being happy for the next 24 hours.
* Promise to learn new things and strengthen the mind.
* Commit to do things for other people and act in an agreeable manner
* Follow a recovery program with as much effort as possible
* Commit to take at least 30 minutes for relaxation and quite reflection
* The promise to enjoy life and not be afraid of things
These are some compelling reasons for people in recovery to concern themselves with just dealing with one day at a time:
* The idea of giving up alcohol and drugs forever can be an overwhelming idea for alcoholics. They are not required to make such a commitment. They just have to avoid drinking or using drugs for the next 24 hours. They can just stop for one day and this will lead to months and eventually years of sobriety.
* Trying to deal with all of life’s problems at one time is overwhelming. It makes much more sense to simply deal with the today’s problems. Tomorrow’s battles can be worried about when the time comes. If people only concern themselves with the problems, they are less likely to have too much on their plate.
* Most of the things that people worry about in the future are never going to happen. They are therefore just getting stressed and worrying about these events unnecessarily. Staying focused on the present is a powerful way to avoid unnecessary worry.
* It is only possible to find happiness in this moment. The song _Beautiful Boy, Darling Boy by John Lennon says, life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. Too many people spend their time focused on the future, and this means that they miss all the joy that is available right now. Being caught in the future becomes a habit it leads to a great deal of dissatisfaction with life.
Living one day at a time does not mean that people should ignore the future. They should still plan for their retirement and keep money aside for a rainy day. The advice is that people should avoid being too focused on the future, particularly about things that are unknowable.
A wonderful technique that can help people be fully present in the moment is mindfulness meditation. This is a technique that involves purposefully paying attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental manner. This means that they are not caught up with thoughts about the future or the past. Mindfulness meditation has become popular with people who are recovering from an addiction. It makes living one day at a time almost effortless.
Groups such as Rational Recovery reject the idea that it is only possible for people to commit themselves to staying sober for the next 24 hours. Members of this program consider their addiction over. They would view the idea of a daily reprieve as dangerous thinking, because it reinforces the notion that the individual is an alcoholic.
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