30 Aug Rule 62 and the Healing Power of Humor

There are 12 steps in the Alcoholics Anonymous program that are meant to guide recovery for those seeking to overcome addiction. There aren’t any rules associated with AA, but anyone who’s been to a few meetings has heard of references to rule 62, always in humorous, and sometimes in bizarre ways. Rule 62 admonishes members of the group not to take themselves too seriously, inviting humor and levity into what could otherwise be some pretty depressing meetings.

The History of Rule 62

During the 1940s, AA was seeing tremendous growth as more and more addicts heard of the success others had achieved through the group. A group of AA veterans decided to try and expand the program, adding formal treatment centers and attempting to standardize a national set of rules. Some of these rules included things like no women were allowed in the program, and there was no hard liquor allowed, only beer.

The list of rules got longer and longer, even as it became painfully obvious that asking a group of alcoholics to stick to a complicated set of rules was not going to work. The organization decided to strip all the rules away, leaving the local chapters to govern themselves. Someone suggested one final rule that would trump all the others, rule 62, “Don’t take yourself too seriously,” and this is only rule that members have stuck to over the years.

Feeling Better Now?

Overcoming addiction is oftentimes a heavy process that can weigh a person down. When the situation becomes desperate, addicts are often surprised to find that taking a step back and finding humor in their situation lifts the storm clouds and gives them some room to breath. Sometimes all it takes is having a good laugh to set you back on course.

At AA meetings, it’s not uncommon for a story of a relapse to be met with sincere chuckles from the group. Many of the members have been in a similar situation before, and can now look back on their experiences and recognize the humor there (throwing up in your boss’s garbage seems a lot funnier once your hangover disappeared). This reaction helps the addict who is suffering see a light at the end of the tunnel, and laugh at himself a little bit along with his friends.

Gaining Humility

Steps 4-7 of a 12-step program ask us to recognize our shortcomings, humble ourselves before God, and ask Him to remove our shortcomings. Rule 62 is a key part of gaining humility as we have to let go of our own pride and sense of importance in order to become humble. Not taking ourselves so seriously allows us to admit that we’re not perfect, that we do make mistakes, and that we can’t fix them without help from a higher power. Finding the humor in our daily lives and in our mistakes allows us to recognize those portions of ourselves that would be best given to God, and left behind. Addiction recovery can’t be all fun and games, but it doesn’t mean we have to be seriously introspective every minute. It’s okay to laugh, to joke, and to have a little fun as we connect with others in our shared experiences.

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