Man is the only animal that laughs. Enjoy it. Even faking a laugh changes our brain chemistry for the better.
To itself, a small child is the center of the universe. It cannot differentiate among itself, its surroundings and its caregivers for some months, and can’t detach completely for years. Since, to begin with, it’s consciousness is the only one it is able to recognize, it naturally believes that it is the center of everything, and that other people are there to tend to its needs.
As we become older and wiser, we usually gain a sense of perspective and proportion regarding our place in the scheme of things. However, for those of us whose emotional development was stymied by trauma, abuse, using alcohol or other drugs, or losses of other kinds, it may be difficult to move out of the “me-me-me” stage and through the various passages that lead to maturity and adulthood. That is almost universally true of alcoholics and other addicts.
That being the case, most of us addicts have problems adjusting to the world by understanding and adopting a sense of ethics, discipline, and other such attributes — most definitely including a sense of humor that allows us to laugh at ourselves. Like the small child, we take ourselves far too seriously to find humor in our fumbles through life.
One of the first signs of healthy recovery is the ability to find ourselves and our foibles amusing. The ability to find humor in our mistakes and gaffes gives us a sense of proportion and our place in the world. Instead of constantly grading our dignity, which leaves us rigid, vulnerable and fragile, we gradually develop a sense of our true importance as human beings — to ourselves and to those around us.
One of our greatest needs as social creatures is to be well-regarded by others. As addicts, we largely blocked others out of our lives for fear of being thought unworthy. (We call that shame.) Now that we are are beginning to believe that we have self-worth, we can let down our guard and see the ways the amusing human condition shows up in our own lives, instead of merely laughing meanly at others.
By keeping our self-importance in perspective, we learn to grow up in ways that we were previously denied
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Most of us addicts became isolated from others, unable to relate to them in healthy ways. We either tried too hard, or not hard enough. When we found ourselves failing to fit in, we turned to “in groups” who thought like we did. Those may have been genuine efforts to find a place where we belonged, but since they were nearly always based on some form of addiction — drinking, drugging, gambling and so forth — we were associating with other wounded souls who were grasping but not able to hold onto that same feeling of belonging. Our isolation continued, even in a crowd.
The value of humor in relieving the tension of situations and increasing the enjoyment of life has been recorded by poets, playwrights and others for thousands of years. Humor brings people closer, cements social bonds (people who laugh at the same things we do are accepted, others are kept at arm’s length), and defuses tense moments.