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Men on a high girder eating lunch in a black and white photo
It is so important to stay “on the beam!"



Last night at a meeting, I heard the speaker talk about integrity. They said that when they were in their active addiction, they had no integrity. They had no idea how to live in integrity. What did that even mean?


This hit home for me. I want to live with integrity, but do I? What does it mean to live with integrity? When am I living fully in integrity? When am I off the beam, so to speak, and out of alignment with myself – my Higher Self  and my Higher Power?


And maybe most importantly why would I ever be out of alignment? How could I ever be out of integrity? Mis-aligned?




The dictionary defines “integrity” as:


·      firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values.

·      an unimpaired condition.

·      the quality or state of being complete or undivided.


To me this means that an entity, in any system, or in a person, all the parts are in harmonious relationship to each other and to the outer world. There is coherence. All things make sense.



Put everything “in alignment,” because that is a powerful way to achieve success. Everyone is rowing in the same direction—

head, heart, hands, guts, and feet–-everything in perfect alignment.


Earlier in that same chapter, I write:


Engineers who design machines and systems plan them carefully and include every necessary part to make the system or machine work as designed. They never add extraneous parts. Machines or systems designed by people do not have any unnecessary, extra parts, and the Universe is much more than a machine.


The parts are all integral to the whole. Nothing is left out; nothing is unnecessary. There is integrity in the system. It all makes perfect sense.


That’s fine for machines, of computer operating systems. However, when it comes to a person’s personality, a person’s character or behavior – there can be a lot of slippage between the parts, between the intention and the behavior, between the thought and the action, between the feeling and the response.


For myself, I can easily fall back on Walt Whitman’s line from Leaves of Grass:


Do I contradict myself?

Very well then I contradict myself,

(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

(Song of Myself, 51)


Very poetic and high-minded. I suppose at that macro-level of consciousness, my Higher Self contains All – all contradictions are resolved in the enormity of God, the Oneness that is a seamless and indivisible whole.


But down here on Planet Earth, the world of duality where it is vital to live in the world (while not being of the world) integrity – alignment of thought, feeling, belief, behavior, motive, etc. (aka head, heart, and guts) is the best way to be.


I want my words to match my actions. I want to walk the talk.


So, when the speaker brought up the topic of integrity, the word lit up in my mind – in my soul. It came to me that it was not an abstract concept, but a North Star that could be seen and used to guide me, “in all my affairs.”


In any given situation, at any given moment, with any given thought or belief, decision or confronted with any problem, I can check in and see what lines up.


It’s easy to see that living a life of integrity keeps things simple. With some high-level guiding principles to check in with, I never have to spend any time or energy questioning or doubting myself.


Checking in with my head, heart, and guts, generally the right answer comes to me clearly – and almost always simply – and then life really can be lived simply. When I have integrity, I’m dependable, I can depend on myself and then automatically, others know they can depend on me, too.


All of this adds up to a formula to lead a successful life.


Without necessarily taking that first drink, we often get quite far off the beam.

Our troubles sometimes begin with indifference.

(Page 112, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions)


What I must do is be vigilant to even the smallest action (or inaction), to the decisions of the moment, and ask “Is this in integrity with my Highest Self?” The answer will be self-evident. Then comes the harder part: am I honest enough, open-minded enough, and willing to do the “next right thing?”


I can not be indifferent and allow my mind, my mood, my behavior drift off the beam and into the weeds of my less-than-ideal self.


Last week’s blog post was about The Wobble, the dance between my Highest Self and the aspects of myself that are less than wonderful. In and out – and wobbling between – those two opposite poles, I can feel which way I am trending, and take steps early on to correct course.


I know when I am out of alignment. I feel lousy. Sad. Angry. Frustrated. Resentful. Piss-y. Disgusted. Envious. Annoyed.


It is a common misconception that I am at the mercy of my feelings. “I can’t help it. That’s just the way I feel.” A common thing we’ve all said, and heard people say.


What a way to let myself off the hook and be a victim!


I am definitely not good at this, yet! – but I have choices. I can line up my feelings with the best, the highest level that I can conceive of at the moment and take steps to move in that direction. Maybe I can’t move from anger to joy, but I can move from anger to boredom, and from there to contentment, and then go even higher from there!


Living with integrity is a goal of mine. It has been for a very long time, but I never quite had it express so concretely as it is now.


Wish me luck!


Happy Sunday,





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