One thing that so many of us so easily forget is how to laugh. Sure, it’s important to take your sobriety seriously, meaning that you’re going to want to create plans for your safety, gather a network of supportive friends, know what to do when you experience intense cravings, and have goals for your future.

However, once that’s all in place, once you feel safe and solid in your sobriety, it’s essential to find some time for laughter. In fact, one of the traits that some recovering addicts have is a tendency to take life seriously. It’s often related to an inability to relax. This can be especially true for those who have experienced trauma at one point in their lives. There is a young child inside the adult who has difficulty relaxing and having fun. In fact, there might even be a fear associated with relaxation because it tests their need to control feelings, behavior, and inner experiences.

Frequently, recovering addicts feel the need to control their feelings, their behavior, as well as the feelings and behavior of others. There is usually an underlying fear that if this sort of control is relinquished, life will become more problematic. This fear may even prompt the use of drugs or alcohol and eventually, if an addiction develops, the need for addiction treatment later in life.

However, laughing is incredibly powerful medicine, not just for those who can’t relax enough to have fun, but for everyone on the recovery journey. In fact, there are moments on the road to recovery that demand a good laugh. This is especially true because the alternative is often beating ourselves up! When looking back at some of the choices we made or the reactions we had or the words we said, sometimes, we need to laugh. There’s no question that sobriety requires self-exploration and a seriousness that facilitates healing, but sometimes a good laugh can up us accept ourselves for who we are – the faults and flaws that each of us possess.

Interestingly, laughter doesn’t only change your perspective; there are also many health benefits to laughing, both physical and mental. Laughing can lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, increase blood flow, increase memory and focus, which are both often impaired during addiction, improve creativity, and reduce stress. Perhaps you and a friend can read a joke a day to get the belly rolling and the smiles spreading from one ear to the other. Perhaps laughter can become a regular part of your recovery.

In fact, laughter is such a healing force that it was precisely the way that Norman Cousins healed himself. Cousins was an American political journalist, author, professor, and activist. He was also a Professor of Medical Humanities for the School of Medicine at UCLA. As a professor, Cousins did research on the biochemistry of human emotions. He had already had the belief that feelings and emotions were the essence to healing and fighting illness.

In fact, when he was ill he took his research on positive emotions and applied to his own healing process. When he battled heart disease, he worked to heal himself by taking large doses of Vitamin C and, as he put it, trained himself to laugh on a regular basis. When his healing seemed to be taking an upswing he began writing. Eventually, he wrote a collection of best-selling non-fiction books on illness and healing, as well as a 1980 autobiographical memoir, Human Options: An Autobiographical Notebook.

If you’re ready to experience the healing benefits of laughter, let’s start now! Below are some jokes to get you started:

Q: Why did the accountant do so well in Alcoholics Anonymous?
A: He was already a friend of bills.

Q: Why aren’t people in recovery good dancers?
A: They lose interest after twelve steps.

If you want to keep laughing and using laughter to heal yourself, you may want to check out Laughter Yoga. It’s a practice of inviting laughter into your life on a regular basis. Laughter Yoga includes voluntarily inducing laughter to stay positive. It also includes using relaxation techniques and yogic breathing to invite positive emotions into your day.

If you’re ready to stop being serious all the time, try laughing for no reason! You can smile and laugh your way to long-term sobriety!

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