"The Selfishness of Unselfishness"
Hello, my friends.
In the movie, "My Name is Bill W.", the title character and co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous finds himself alone one night in a city far from home, pacing back and forth in front of the hotel bar. His solution, and the key to the worldwide success of the AA program, is to locate and reach out to another alcoholic. He openly admits to his new friend that his motivation is entirely selfish - he's simply concluded that the only way to conquer his own problem is to help someone else to conquer theirs.
The AA principle, which has since been applied to every kind of addiction, dependency and compulsive behavior imaginable, is in some ways similar to the one we affirm in our weekly meetings of the local Rotary Club, where we always close with the motto, "Service above self - he profits most who serves best." It also brings to mind Norman Vincent Peale's simple formula for success, "Find a need and fill it," or Zig Ziglar's famous quote, "You can have anything you want in life if you will help enough other people get what they want."
And yet, there is a difference. The people in addiction and dependency (12 Step) programs, though they come from every background imaginable, have one common bond - they've hit bottom, or as close to the bottom as they ever want to be. They're desperate. They're grasping at straws. They're willing to try anything to get better. When they gather together, if they speak at all, they speak from the heart. They have nothing to hide. Their passion is palpable.
Passion. It's something I've chased after forever. I've thought and written about it a lot. I think it's the key to a meaningful life. If a man can find something he can be passionate about, and figure out a way to live there… well, to me, that sounds like heaven on earth.
Heaven. Now, there's another deep subject. It has always seemed to me that more wars are fought and people killed in the name of God than for any other reason. Yet old Bill W., the hero of our story, seems to have had that figured out, too. A central requirement in his program was and is to turn one's will and one's life over to "a Power greater than ourselves." Each individual is free to interpret that in his or her own way. What a concept.
B. J. Palmer, developer of my profession, tried to live his life and make his choices, one moment at a time, based on his ability to "tune in" and align his conscious awareness with his own "Innate Intelligence." I believe if old B.J. were alive today and we could ask him, he'd say that Innate Intelligence is the part of God that resides within each of us, the part that will always steer us toward right decisions and right action if we can relinquish control of our "will and our life" to that "Higher Power."
I recently wrote an article about "being all we can," in which I advanced the idea that we have only to stay focused on that "divine essence," that "inner perfection," and our lives will tend to more closely approximate the ideals we all hold in our hearts. But perhaps there's more to it than that. Perhaps what we really need is to realize the inseparable nature of our relations with one another.
Perhaps we need to take the revelation that Bill W. received in that hotel in Akron, Ohio to another level, and understand that so-called "unselfish" action is the key to our own self-realization. That the only true solution, not only to our problems, but to our dreams and aspirations, is to live with a passion for one another. That the truest and best way, perhaps the only way, to get to heaven is to get there together.
Wishing you health, happiness and peace,
Dr. Frank Bowling