We've all heard the saying, "laughter is the best medicine." This is especially true when faced with uncertain or even terrifying circumstances. Remember Norman Cousins, who laughed himself well when diagnosed with heart disease? Today there are clinics where laughter, induced by comedic routines, joke tellers, clowns and other laughter inciting therapies, are a regular part of the treatment provided. Benefits are seen by cancer survivors and many others who are suffering and need to reframe their experience to gain insight and benefits otherwise not used in conventional hospital, therapeutic, and treatment settings.
Addicts, too, can benefit from developing a sense of humor. One of the most surprising phenomena in Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step program meetings is that laughter is often part of the telling of tragic episodes.
Remember "Rule 62"
A story that is told in Alcoholics Anonymous is that there is a book called "Rule 62." Many times, members will say to one another, "Remember Rule 62," especially when a sponsor hears a recovering addict predict gloom and doom in situations that will probably work out just fine. The story states that the book "Rule 62" is full of blank pages, with a single page in the middle of the book that says: "Do not take yourself so seriously." This then, is Rule 62.
The negative mindset of the addict can be a definite detriment to recovery for the addict. They tend to remember the horrors of their past and believe that they are doomed to continue to repeat those behaviors. It is important to constantly remind them that they are in recovery to change those behaviors that contributed to that horror. Therefore, unbeknownst to them, but commonly seen in the meetings of recovering addicts, the outcomes of their behaviors will bring about new and different results, usually in seemingly (and unquestionably) miraculous ways!
Being able to laugh at oneself is an important feature. When they learn to not believe what they think is happening, and to laugh at the heavy dramatic frame they place life in, they are well on their way to recovering a new attitude and belief about themselves, their true place in the world, and how to fit into that place. They remember to remain in expectation of different outcomes due to different behaviors, and maybe just a little less stressed out about what is coming for them next.