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The Joy of Sobriety #9 - Happiness and Laughter

Many years ago I worked at a non-profit organization where I organized and ran endurance events for people who raised money for a specific cause. There were times when I was in charge of running several different teams at once which included hundreds of people whom I supported in their efforts of raising money and training for their events. Even though the cause carried with it a somber connotation, the people participating in the events often did so with great attitudes, high energy, and joviality. One day a co-worker approached me with some news that plagued my confidence and the way I viewed myself for years to come. He told me some of the participants I worked with thought I was too intense. There I was, thinking I was a fun and energetic organizer, and people viewed me as too intense. It may not sound like a big deal to you but to me it was devastating. It completely contradicted everything I felt, thought, and believed about myself.

After learning the way the outside world perceived me and my persona, I vowed to change how I presented myself to the world so the world would see me differently. Unfortunately, wanting the world to see me differently was an inauthentic way to approach what I viewed was the problem. I ran into the intensity description of my personality many more times throughout my life as I continued to misunderstand the reasons for which I had been saddled with such a label. The way the world viewed me was not actually the problem. The problem existed in the way I saw the world.

Alcohol negatively affects the way we receive the world

During my time working at the non-profit and for many years following, nothing changed in my personality, the world never saw me differently, and I continued to struggle with why. What I did not understand during all that time was that the problem was within me. I was not happy with myself, with my life, or with the way in which I dealt with the world or the way in which the world dealt with me. Therefore, the persona I projected out into the world was that of loneliness, depression, struggle, and even anger. It was not of happiness, joy, and high energy as I once believed. I didn't know it at the time, but the reason I was struggling with all those things was that I was constantly destroying my mind and my body's ability to cope with the world. I was in a constant state of healing from the days, weeks, months, and years of alcohol abuse. When you are constantly healing, your mind and body are in a perpetual state of fight or flight. They do not have the capacity to garner the strength necessary to project a false air of joy or happiness; no matter how hard we want or try to.

No matter how hard I tried or how badly I wanted the world to see me differently, it was never going to happen through sheer will. A change had to occur, and I was the only person who could affect the change I so desperately wanted. In order for the world to see me differently, I had to change the way in which I saw the world. The only way to do that was to remove the external influence that altered the way in which I was able to see everything around me. I had to quit drinking.

Sobriety allows us to truly see and feel the world around us

Once I took the first steps into sobriety and began my path towards recovery, I immediately began to see and feel the difference in the way I perceived everything around me. Clarity is a superpower of sorts in that it allows us to truly see the world we live in. The world is full of joy, laughter, happiness, and beauty; but you have to be able to receive those things in order to effectively see them. Sobriety opens our minds and hearts to the world again, and all the wonder and fascination we once saw as a child comes back to us ten-fold. It is even greater as adults because we bring with us a higher level of background knowledge and history which intensifies the feelings we receive from all the positive attributes that surround us every day.

Happiness was an emotion far removed from my perception of life for far too long. The once intense personality that I used to put out into the world has been replaced with a more grateful, patient, happy, energetic, and joyous personality that is prone to laughing and crying at the simplest of circumstances because I feel more than I ever remember feeling. I laugh more but I have a lot of time to make up for. I am happier because I see happiness in the world around me again. I feel lighter and more positive every day because every day feels more accessible to me.

I approach each day with the intention and expectation of joy, happiness, and laughter because I believe that is what the world expects of me.

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