Joy, Freedom and True Happiness Under Pressure and Difficulty

Joy, Freedom and True Happiness Under Pressure and Difficulty

The joy of living we really have, even under pressure and difficulty.  (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 15)

Good Against Bad
Good Against Bad (Photo credit: michael.heiss)

We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.  (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 83)

 Joy, happiness and freedom EVEN UNDER PRESSURE AND DIFFICULTY; these are alien concepts to so many of us.  If you are in the world for any period of time it wont take long to realize that the world is like a game of cards:  There are good hands and there are bad hands and you gotta know how to deal with both.  

One thing that is also true of us working through recovery is that we really don’t have the luxury of freaking out.  We either learn to deal with the good and the bad or we haven’t really learned to deal with life.  

I was very specific when I said BOTH because some of us cannot handle the bad without freaking out and some of us cannot handle the good without self-destructing.  

I do not hold with those who believe that alcoholism is entirely a problem of mental control. I have had many men who had, for example, worked a period of months on some problem or business deal which was to be settled on a certain date, favorably to them. They took a drink a day or so prior to the date, and then the phenomenon of craving at once became paramount to all other interests so that the important appointment was not met. These men were not drinking to escape; they were drinking to overcome a craving beyond their mental control.  (Alcoholics Anonymous pgs. xxix-xxx – 4th Edition the Doctor’s Opinion)

He has a positive genius for getting tight at exactly the wrong moment, particularly when some important decision must be made or engagement kept. He is often perfectly sensible and well balanced concerning everything except liquor, but in that respect he is incredibly dishonest and selfish. He often possesses special abilities, skills, and aptitudes, and has a promising career ahead of him. He uses his gifts to build up a bright outlook for his family and himself, and then pulls the structure down on his head by a senseless series of sprees.  (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 21)

Some of us fall flat on our face from things going too well also.  We gotta learn to handle the good and the bad.  We have to learn to have happiness and remain free in both.  This is something that comes through the process (the passage from page 83 is from “The Promises” that are for those almost through with Step 9), but we have to be aware of it also.

And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone – even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned.  (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 84)

Of course, the timeframe mentioned here is after Step 9 is completed, but this is key also.  We are not fighting people and life, we are taking life on life’s terms, one day at a time.  We are looking to gain the courage to change the things we can change, the serenity to accept the things we cannot change and the wisdom to know the which are the things we can change and which are the things we cannot.

If you are not at this point, three things are evident:

  1. Getting through the Steps up to Step Nine seems to be a prerequisite to the expectation of a lot of this, so vigorously working or reworking your Steps is a key

Then there is this:

Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail.  (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 89)

  1. When desperate, working with somebody else is a must.  If you are feeling uncomfortably bad or uncomfortably good it is not just a choice, it is a must.
  2. It is not about you!!!!  The planet and all the people in it were not specifically placed here to keep you comfortable.

Selfishness – self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles.  (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 61)

If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished, the show would be great. Everybody, including himself, would be pleased. Life would be wonderful. In trying to make these arrangements our actor may sometimes be quite virtuous. He may be kind, considerate, patient, generous; even modest and self-sacrificing. On the other hand, he may be mean, egotistical, selfish and dishonest. But, as with most humans, he is more likely to have varied traits.  (Alcoholics Anonymous pgs. 60– 61)

You cannot try to force or manipulate the world into keeping you comfortable and you cant allow yourself to get angry, indignant, self-pitying or so otherwise uncomfortable that you are in danger.

Joy, freedom and happiness that can sand pressure and discomfort are offered to you.  There is hope, but you have to take action to get it.


Stay sober my friends,

Wade H.

The Joy Of Living

 “…we shall be of little use if our attitude is one of bitterness or hostility.”  Alcoholics Anonymous pg 103 

This is a very important point to all of us in recovery.  Your attitude determines your usefulness to the world.  If you are a person in recovery with a negative attitude, you at the least display to others a negative idea of what the recovery experience is like.

The truth is this is a failure to see and seek one of the key goals of recovery.  Bill Wilson described this clearly on page 15 of the Alcoholics Anonymous book: 

“The joy of living we really have even under pressure and difficulty” 

I personally have seen many who claim great knowledge and understanding of recovery and claiming long periods of sobriety that propagate a negative attitude of life as if it is the way a person with long term recovery should act.  This is a lie and a terrible misrepresentation of what recovery is all about.  What this says to a person seeking recovery is; “I may want recovery because my life is miserable, but being in recovery or being recovered looks more miserable.” 

“But, we aren’t a glum lot.  If newcomers could see no joy or fun in our existence, they wouldn’t want it.  We absolutely insist on enjoying life.”  Alcoholics Anonymous pg 132 

Notice the words “We absolutely insist…”   There is some suggestion that this joy is something we fight for and is not something that just appears. 

My reason for bringing up this topic is to clarify what another one of the goals of recovery looks like. 

This joy is not just a matter of everything in your life being perfect or everything going your way because you are not using.  This joy is rooted in the simple appreciation of two things: 

“But why shouldn’t we laugh?  We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.”  Alcoholics Anonymous pg 132 

  1. that we have recovery even if it just for the past couple of hours, the past few days or many years.  (we who have recovered from serious drinking are miracles of mental health – Alcoholics Anonymous pg 133)
  2. that we have been given the gift of “the power to help others.” 

Conscious effort is required to maintain the “joy of living” and a focus what may appear to be the simplest of things that may be a miracle such as the fact I am still alive after how I have lived my life and the chemicals I have put into my body, or the other people in recovery I have that are willing to support me, etc.  But, it is a conscious effort to keep that focus. 

“Avoid then, the deliberate manufacture of misery, but if trouble comes, cheerfully capitalize it as an opportunity…”  Alcoholics Anonymous pg 133 

Many of us in recovery are subject to fits of self pit, depression and the like and the truth is that this sort of thing “…does not often recovery overnight nor do twisted thinking and depression vanish in a twinkling.”  (Alcoholics Anonymous pg 133).  It is a process but “the joy of living” must be one of the goals of your recovery.  After all what person who is miserable and tired of using wants to seek a life that is miserable and tired while sober.

The bottom line as stated by the authors of the Alcoholics Anonymous book on page 133:

“We are sure that God wants us to be happy, joyous, and free.  We cannot subscribe to the belief that this life is a vale of tears, though it once was just that for many of us.  But it is clear that we made our own misery.  God didn’t do it.” 

And when you begin to focus on the problems and troubles that appear to be attacking your life (as they do all people on earth): 

“…cheerfully capitalize it as an opportunity to demonstrate His omnipotence.”  Alcoholics Anonymous pg 133.

Seek and maintain Joy;