Television, social media, and the general buzz of everyday life make it increasingly difficult to live in the moment and simply enjoy the beauty of the space we are in. The twelfth and final step in recovery challenges us to be able to do just that- we have become self aware enough and practiced at using the tools given along the way to be able to begin enjoying health and sobriety. Not only is it a tremendous feat to reach a certain level of joy in life after being an addict for so long, but to be able to share our victories with those who continue to struggle is the name of the game from here on out.

Personal growth does not stop here simply because we have checked off all of the required steps on the list generated by our recovery leader; we continue to learn by now beginning to teach. Sobriety is about no longer being selfish, we have given up the self-serving vices that hurt everyone around us, and now it is our turn to help teach those who are seeking health and inner peace. The void that we tried to fill with addictive behaviors can begin to be filled with positive actions such as becoming a sponsor or mentor to those who are walking the difficult path we have been on. In it’s own way, becoming a sponsor keeps us on the straight and narrow in creating a new kind of accountability as we step into a leadership role.

To bring it all together, however, step 12 suggests finding and living your own joy. Described as the pure and simple delight in being alive, joy is what it’s all about- what life is all about. Deepak Chopra wrote: “the healthiest response to life is joy”; I love this quote because no matter what step we are on in our recovery, we are always free to choose our response to situations. Why not choose joy? In choosing joy, we choose health, we choose inner peace, and in choosing these gifts, we create a happier, healthier, more peaceful world.

It’s not about “what brings me joy?” and seeking out tangible or external factors, but instead, we need to be able find the joy in simply being. Life has not happened to us or because of us, but we can choose to react joyfully to every experience from here on out; slipping backward will most definitely happen along the way, but each moment is a brand new gift that can be received and experienced gratefully. The difficult moments are simply the Universe showing us what we still need to work on to grow even further in our spiritual awakening, so say thank you for those harder times and walk through it knowing you will come out more alive and in tune with your soul’s enlightened purpose.

There is no completing the 12 steps, a few have to be revisited every now and then, and no one ever claims to be “recovered” from addiction, rather admittedly we use more cyclical “in progress” terminology. Health is ours to choose, every moment can be responded to with a healthy act and a joyful heart. The joy-filled attitude behind the action turns the “faking it until you make it” theory into an honest, heart felt step toward better- better for us, and better for those we come into contact with. It is with intention that we take our healing to the next level, beyond the steps, beyond recovery, to our spiritual awakening.