Practice These Principles
Living the Spiritual Disciplines and Virtues in 12-Step Recovery




Preface                                                                                                                         v

Introduction                                                                                                              ix

Practice These Principles

A. These Principles                                                                                                       3

    Steps and Principles                                                                                                 7

    Disciplines and Virtues                                                                                            11

    The Disciplines                                                                                                       13

    The Virtues                                                                                                            18

    Disciplines and Virtues: Interaction                                                                          28

    Virtue and Character Development                                                                          31

    Disciplines, Virtues, and Traditions                                                                          36

B. In All Our Affairs: Emotional Sobriety                                                                       43

    Emotions, Spiritually Speaking                                                                                43

    New Outlook, Different Motivation                                                                           47

    Character and Emotions                                                                                         52

    Emotion-Virtues                                                                                                    55

    Right Principles, Right Practice                                                                               58

Step One

“We admitted that we were powerless over

alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.”

The Principles: Surrender; humility, willingness, open-mindedness, honesty, acceptance

C. Lack of Power: Our Dilemma                                                                                  69

    Bill W. Meets Dr. Bob                                                                                             69

    Admitting Powerlessness                                                                                        71

        Surrender                                                                                                         71

        Honesty                                                                                                            73

        Admission of Hopelessness                                                                                 75

        Acceptance of Defeat                                                                                         76

    Admitting Unmanageability                                                                                     79

        Hitting Bottom                                                                                                   79

            Humility and Humiliation                                                                                 81

    A Humble Admission                                                                                              84

Step Two

“Came to believe that a Power greater

than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” 

The Principles: Surrender; humility, simplicity, willingness, open-mindedness, honesty, faith, hope

D. The Will to Disbelieve                                                                                            91

    The Denial of Spiritual Reality                                                                                91

        A Threefold Disease                                                                                          93

        Three Pertinent Ideas                                                                                       95

    Roadblocks to Faith                                                                                               97

        The Atheist                                                                                                       99

        The Agnostic                                                                                                   116

        The Ex-believer                                                                                               119

        The Believer                                                                                                    124

        Religion, Spirituality, and Faith                                                                          125

E. Crossing the Threshold                                                                                         133

    Came to Believe: The Gradual Approach                                                                 133

        A Power Greater Than Ourselves                                                                       134

        An Open Mind                                                                                                  134

        Temporary Substitution                                                                                    136

    Belief on the Evidence: The Experimental Approach                                                 139

        Experience and Experiment                                                                               139

        Looking at and Looking Along                                                                            141

        Psychic Change and Spiritual Transformation                                                      142

        Spiritual Awakening and Spiritual Experience                                                      143

    Could Restore Us to Sanity                                                                                    144

        In Mind, Body, and Spirit                                                                                  144

        Of Power and Goodness: Could and Would                                                           147

Step Three

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives

over to the care of God as we understood Him.”

The Principles: Surrender, prayer; humility, willingness, acceptance, serenity, faith

F. The Turning Point                                                                                                151

    The Spiritual Malady, or the Nature of the “Ism”                                                    152

    Self-improvement or Self-surrender?                                                                    158

    Humility Can Lead Us to Faith                                                                              161

        Willingness: The Mustard Seed                                                                         161

        Right Dependence, True Freedom                                                                     164

        The Question of Trust                                                                                      167

        As We Understood Him                                                                                    172

G. Working the Steps, Practicing the Principles                                                          185

    A Faith That Works                                                                                              186

    Made a Decision                                                                                                  188

        The 3rd Step Prayer                                                                                         189

    Turning It Over                                                                                                   192

        The Serenity Prayer                                                                                         192

        Acceptance                                                                                                     202

            Expectations and Disappointments                                                                205

            Understanding and Accepting                                                                        211

        Serenity and Peace                                                                                          214

    The Right Use of the Will                                                                                      215

Postscript: An Invitation to Share                                                                              219

Appendix: The Twelve Steps and the Twelve Traditions                                               221

Notes                                                                                                                     223

Suggested Readings                                                                                                229

Index                                                                                                                     231