“We have been speaking to you of serious, sometimes tragic things. We have been dealing with alcohol in its worst aspect. But we are not a glum lot. If newcomers could see no joy or fun in our existence, they wouldn't want it. We absolutely insist on enjoying life.” Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous found on page 132
You would be hard-pressed to find two guys that enjoy life more than Mike and Glenn. But if you would like to shoot fish in a barrel and show up at any AA meeting, you will find much deep-rooted joy, even giddiness.
The reason is simple; we once were, and now we’re not.
Early on, the boys had their friend Don in the coffee shop. We laughed about his past, present, and future. The sober.coffee episode was titled “Don Joins sharing "It's OK to Laugh" and can be heard here.
In preparation for this blog post, we researched how joy, happiness, and laughter benefit a person's psyche and health, for that matter. There is plenty of good information available online related to this topic.
According to heart.org, up to 80% of visits to primary care doctors are due to conditions that are caused or exasperated by unmanaged stress. The same article talks about how happiness staves off high blood pressure, resulting in a lower risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.
Helpguide lays out the physical, mental, and social benefits of laughter, which include a boost in immunity, lowering of stress hormones, relaxation of muscles, easing of anxiety and tensions, and strengthened resilience while producing a gateway to joy.
We have come to appreciate that we are not laughing off our past misdeeds. Instead, we are simply choosing to accept that these things happened and that there is nothing we can do to change those historical facts.
And, instead of despairing over those transgressions, we are painting past experiences in a relatable and sometimes humorous light so that the next struggling alcoholic can connect and begin to heal themselves. In fact, we laugh so that we can heal.
Where things get a little more serious is in our approach to sobriety. There is nothing more important than our sobriety. Our everything depends on a successful recovery. But once the foundation of our determination is interwoven with who we are, we seek joy, happiness, and laughter to support this process.
We have found genuine friendships in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. Aligning ourselves with positive people who share a common goal makes the journey more productive and pleasant. In addition, getting involved in sober activities with sober people lay bricks to a gratifying existence.
This approach was suggested to us early on, and we are forever grateful. However, looking to alternative methods could lead to a different fulfillment and a lesser triumph over the disease we tackle daily. We don't know what could work in its stead as we have only chosen the optimistic, joy-filled path to pursue.
As Don shared on the podcast, “some strange things started happening (by consistently going to meetings), I started to get to know people, I started to hang around with those people, I met my buddy Don… and other guys for coffees - I really began to like the people, and I really began to like the program, (even) went on a retreat where I had as much fun as I ever had. I realized I had everything I wanted. I’m happy, my wife is happy, and the boss is happy.”
AA makes us “want” to stay sober.
If one hasn’t found joy and happiness in a AA group, we might recommend trying other meetings and keep trying until finding a meeting that drives your delight.
Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from a bonus drop sober.coffee podcast titled “Don Joins sharing “its ok to laugh” The podcast dropped on 6/13/2021. Click here to hear the podcast.
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions do not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.