What is Rule 62 in Alcoholics Anonymous?

Diverse group of people sitting in circle in support group meeting session.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a globally recognized fellowship designed to support individuals grappling with alcohol dependence. Founded in 1935 by Bill W. and Dr. Bob in Akron, Ohio, AA has become a cornerstone of recovery for millions, offering a path to sobriety through mutual support and shared experiences. Central to AA’s approach is the Big Book, which outlines the philosophy and methods of the 12-step program—guidelines that have helped countless individuals reclaim their lives from alcohol’s grip.

Among the numerous insights and directives in the Big Book, there exists a lesser-known but equally significant rule known as Rule 62, which simply states: “Don’t take yourself too damn seriously.” This rule, often quoted with a smile within the community, serves as a gentle reminder of the importance of humor and humility in recovery. It underscores an often overlooked aspect of healing and personal growth— the ability to laugh at oneself, maintaining a light-hearted perspective amidst the challenging journey of recovery.

In this article, we explore the origin, meaning, and application of Rule 62, shedding light on its significance not only within the AA program but also in everyday life. By understanding this rule, we can appreciate the broader wisdom it conveys, encouraging us not just to navigate recovery with grace but also to approach life’s challenges with a balanced mix of seriousness and levity.

What is Rule 62?

Rule 62 of Alcoholics Anonymous, with its straightforward directive to “Don’t take yourself too damn seriously,” offers a refreshing perspective on the recovery process. This rule, emerging from the rich tapestry of guidelines and experiences detailed in the Big Book, encourages members to foster a sense of humor and light-heartedness in their journey toward sobriety.

The essence of Rule 62 is to remind individuals that while the path to recovery is undoubtedly critical and often fraught with challenges, maintaining a too-serious demeanor can actually be counterproductive. The journey of recovery is not just about abstaining from alcohol; it’s also about rediscovering joy, appreciating the mundane, and learning to live a fulfilling life without dependency.

In practice, Rule 62 serves as a buffer against the all-too-common pitfalls of ego and self-centeredness that can arise during recovery. It’s easy for individuals to become overly absorbed in their own struggles and progress, which can lead to unnecessary stress and a feeling of isolation. By adopting a lighter approach and learning to laugh at the inevitable missteps along the way, members can enhance their resilience and maintain a positive outlook.

Furthermore, this rule is a nod to the communal and supportive spirit of AA meetings, where shared laughter can be just as healing as shared struggles. It helps build bonds among members, making the environment more welcoming and less daunting for newcomers. In essence, Rule 62 is not just about not taking oneself seriously; it’s about building a recovery process that celebrates life’s ups and downs and fosters a supportive community that recognizes the value of humor in healing.

The Origins of Rule 62

The origins of Rule 62 in Alcoholics Anonymous are tied to a poignant and somewhat humorous story involving a determined group from West Virginia. This group ambitiously planned to establish a comprehensive recovery foundation that would include a club, a hospital, a rehabilitation center, and a research center. Eager to ensure their success, they reached out to the General Service Office of AA, specifically seeking advice from Bill W., one of AA’s founders.

According to Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill W. responded with caution, sharing his experiences and observations that similar endeavors often did not succeed as planned. Despite this warning, the group in West Virginia decided to move forward with their ambitious project. As the foundation began to take shape, it quickly became apparent that managing such a complex operation was fraught with challenges. The group found themselves overwhelmed, their grand vision proving more difficult to realize than they had anticipated.

Amidst growing frustrations and the stress of trying to keep the foundation afloat, one of the members had an epiphany about the nature of their efforts. Reflecting on the situation, he saw the need for a reminder not to take the endeavor—or themselves—too seriously. To spread this newfound insight, he wrote out a simple but powerful message, placed it in small envelopes, and mailed it to AA groups across the country. On the outside of each card was printed “Charleston AA Group Rule # 62,” implying humorously that this was just one of many rules. Inside, the message was clear and resonant: “Don’t take yourself so damn seriously!”

This act of sending out the cards was both a literal and figurative release of the heavy burdens they had placed on themselves. It marked a turning point, not just for the group but for the wider AA community, reinforcing the importance of humility and humor in recovery. Rule 62 thus became a symbol of the need to balance earnestness with ease, seriousness with light-heartedness, particularly in the emotionally charged journey of recovery. This story of Rule 62 reminds us all that in the face of great challenges. Sometimes, the best approach is to simply laugh and remember not to take life—and ourselves—too seriously.

Hands of several people attending support group sitting in circle

Rule 62 in the Recovery Process

In the context of Alcoholics Anonymous and the broader journey of recovery, Rule 62 plays a pivotal role by encouraging individuals not to take themselves too seriously. This rule isn’t just a quip—it’s a fundamental component of the healing process, offering a much-needed perspective that can make the path to sobriety more humane and enjoyable.

Integrating Humor in Healing

Recovery from alcoholism is undeniably a serious affair, fraught with intense emotions, setbacks, and personal challenges. However, the incorporation of Rule 62 into this process underscores the therapeutic value of humor. Laughter can lighten the mood in meetings, making them less intimidating and more accessible to newcomers. It also serves as a social glue, bonding members together through shared light-hearted moments. This sense of camaraderie is crucial as it helps individuals feel less isolated in their struggles.

Maintaining Perspective

Rule 62 is a reminder that while the goal of sobriety is vital, the journey should not be so burdensome that it becomes unbearable. Recovering alcoholics often find themselves caught up in a cycle of self-criticism and high expectations. By applying Rule 62, individuals learn to view their recovery through a more forgiving lens, acknowledging and even embracing the imperfections of their journey. This shift in perspective can prevent discouragement and help maintain steady progress.

A Tool for Overcoming Obstacles

In recovery, obstacles are inevitable. Whether it’s dealing with cravings, navigating interpersonal conflicts, or handling the stresses of daily life without alcohol, challenges are part of the process. Rule 62 offers a tool for managing these challenges by injecting humor and levity into difficult situations. This can reduce anxiety and provide a fresh way of looking at problems, often revealing simpler solutions that were overlooked when taking things too seriously.

Enhancing Resilience

The ability to laugh at oneself and not sweat the small stuff builds resilience. It fosters a more balanced approach to life’s ups and downs, helping individuals in recovery not to be overwhelmed by the weight of their experiences. When people in recovery learn to take things in stride, they are better equipped to handle the pressures of staying sober without succumbing to old habits.

Encouraging a Joyful Recovery

Ultimately, Rule 62 helps cultivate a recovery environment that celebrates life. It encourages individuals to find joy and satisfaction in their new sober lifestyle, promoting activities and interactions that are fulfilling and fun. This joyful approach not only makes staying sober more appealing but also reinforces the idea that life without alcohol can be rich, vibrant, and deeply rewarding.

By embedding Rule 62 into the fabric of the recovery process, Alcoholics Anonymous offers a gentle reminder that the journey to recovery, while serious, also needs to be filled with moments of joy and laughter. This balance is what often makes the difference between a path that feels like a burden and one that leads to a fulfilling, sober life.

Broader Application of Rule 62

Rule 62, “Don’t take yourself too damn seriously,” while rooted in the recovery process of Alcoholics Anonymous, holds universal appeal and utility. This simple yet profound principle transcends the boundaries of AA meetings, offering valuable life lessons that can be applied in various aspects of everyday life. Its broader application encourages not only those in recovery but also the general population to embrace a more balanced and joyful approach to life’s challenges.

In the Workplace

The workplace can often be a pressure cooker of deadlines, expectations, and stress. Rule 62 reminds us to approach our professional responsibilities with a sense of humor and perspective. By not taking every setback or criticism too seriously, employees and leaders alike can foster a more positive work environment. This approach not only reduces workplace stress but also promotes creativity and teamwork, as individuals feel more comfortable expressing ideas and engaging with colleagues in a light-hearted manner.

In Personal Relationships

Relationships, whether familial, romantic, or platonic, can sometimes become strained under the weight of unrealistic expectations and serious conflicts. Applying Rule 62 can help individuals approach disagreements with a lighter heart, reducing the risk of conflicts escalating into resentments. Learning to laugh together and at ourselves within our relationships is crucial in building stronger bonds and fostering understanding and forgiveness.

In Self-Development

Personal growth often involves confronting uncomfortable truths about ourselves, which can be a serious and introspective process. Rule 62 encourages a more forgiving approach to self-improvement. It allows individuals to acknowledge their flaws and mistakes without harsh judgment, making the journey toward self-betterment more enjoyable and sustainable. Embracing this rule can lead to greater self-acceptance and a more balanced self-concept.

During Times of Stress and Adversity

Life inevitably brings challenges and stressful periods. The ability to view these situations with a sense of humor and proportion can make them more manageable and less daunting. Rule 62 serves as a reminder that even in the darkest times, finding moments of joy and laughter can provide relief and a sense of hope. This mindset is crucial for resilience, helping individuals bounce back from adversities stronger and more grounded.

Promoting General Well-being

The benefits of not taking life too seriously extend to overall mental and physical health. Studies have shown that laughter and a positive outlook can reduce stress, enhance immune function, and lower the risk of chronic illnesses. Rule 62 encourages everyone to incorporate more joy and less stress into their daily lives, promoting a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.

In essence, Rule 62 is not just a recovery tool but a life philosophy. By applying this rule broadly, individuals can transform their approach to life, infusing everyday experiences with levity, resilience, and a greater appreciation for the simple joys of living. Whether navigating the complexities of recovery, work, relationships, or personal growth, Rule 62 offers a liberating reminder: life is too important to be taken too seriously all the time.

Help is Available

Rule 62, “Don’t take yourself too damn seriously,” is more than a quaint saying within the Alcoholics Anonymous community—it’s a profound insight that encourages a healthier, more balanced approach to recovery and life. It reminds us that while the work of overcoming addiction is serious, the manner in which we approach this work need not be weighed down by an overbearing seriousness. By integrating a sense of humor and levity into our daily lives and recovery processes, we can alleviate stress, foster resilience, and enhance our overall well-being.

The ethos of Rule 62 is particularly relevant in the context of addiction treatment. It helps those in recovery see that enjoying life sober is not only possible but can be deeply fulfilling. Embracing this rule can transform the recovery journey into a more positive experience, making it more likely that individuals will stay engaged and committed to their sobriety.

For anyone struggling with addiction, or if you know someone who is, remember that recovery is a journey that does not have to be walked in solemn silence. At Safe and Sound Treatment in Orange County, California, we understand the importance of integrating comprehensive treatment methods, including medically assisted detoxification and a full spectrum of residential and outpatient services. We believe in treating the whole person, which means recognizing the power of humor and the importance of not taking life too seriously during the recovery process.

If you or a loved one are seeking a supportive path to recovery that appreciates the lighter side of life while tackling the complexities of addiction, consider reaching out to Safe and Sound Treatment. Our expert team is committed to providing care that not only addresses the physical aspects of addiction but also uplifts your spirit through a recovery journey filled with hope and joy. Visit our website or contact us today to learn how we can help you or your loved one take the first steps toward a brighter, healthier future.