Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Live and Let Live.

I like the phrase describing the second half of this slogan, found in one of the daily readers - "a generous tolerance."

There were many times in my early recovery, when I had to stop, close my eyes, take a deep breath, and remind myself of this concept, before continuing a conversation with an alcoholic. After so many years spent trying to change them, learning to develop a "generous tolerance" towards them was an idea I found problematic. I was dubious about the effectiveness of it, and I was troubled by my own internal, critical voice, getting in the way when I tried.

I had days, when all I could manage to do, was repeat the serenity prayer like a mantra, and plod through, hoping the day would come to an end before my patience was exhausted.

Much to my surprise, working to develop a "generous tolerance" toward the alcoholics, had unexpected benefits elsewhere in my tolerance seemed to expand exponentially the more I practised it.

The harder I worked the second half of this slogan: "...and Let Live" the easier the first half became: "Live..." My generous tolerance began to extend to myself, and with it came an enjoyment of life I hadn't felt in a very long time. Allowing others to live as they pleased, with no advice, admonishments, criticism, or directions from me, somehow allowed me to feel freer, and less constrained about the way I lived my own life.

This slogan is shorthand for an entire philosophy of life. A "generous tolerance" is a powerful tool of Al-Anon, and like all the program tools, works best, when well-polished from daily use.


  1. I've always liked the slogan Live and Let Live. It is an important one. I've also decided that I won't tolerate unacceptable behavior. I did that for years and won't do that anymore. That being said, I am living life with generous tolerance these days.

  2. what would your interpetration be of this quote?

    The difference between my will and God's will is that my will starts out easy and gets hard, and God's will starts out hard and gets easy."