Plan ahead...use your sense of humor in your own defense.
Posted January 27, 2012
If you’re a regular reader of this newsletter (thanks!) you know that laughter is vital for your survival and sanity. It reduces blood pressure, improves your immune system, increases good cholesterol, helps reduce headaches and other pain, lets us think more clearly, creates stronger bonds with our friends and co-workers, scares off pessimists, and so much more.
We all laugh—well, most of us. The problem is, when things go wrong in our lives, we tend to get very serious and use our sense of humor less and less. The irony is that these are the times we need to laugh even more.
As we try to clear our slates and start the new year off right, now is a good time to make a plan for using your sense of humor when the llama poo hits the fan. You might want to use some of these tips and add your own. Then put this on your fridge or your smartphone or have it silk-screened on a t-shirt—wherever you know you’ll see it the next time you start feeling out of sorts.
Reach out to people who make you laugh. Call them on the phone, or better yet, invite them to coffee or lunch. Facebook and other social media may be good for keeping track of people, but they’re a poor substitute for the joy and laughter you get from being with people who share your sense of humor.
Find some reason to laugh out loud at least once an hour whether anything is funny or not. Just go through the motions if you have to. You don’t have to feel like laughing to get the benefits of doing it (it’s a lot like jogging). And once you do laugh, it will help you feel more jovial during the rest of your day.
Do not watch or listen to the news, at least as long as you’re already feeling angry, depressed or frustrated. Sure, there might be one story about a cat who rides across country to reunite with her people or a deer who naps on someone’s sofa, but the rest of the news will just make you feel worse. The exceptions to this rule: The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.
Wear funny clothing. A Hawaiian shirt with a singing fish hat is a good example. Studies have shown that what we wear can reinforce our mood, so when you feel the world seems gray or black, counteract it with clothing that will add a little color and laughter. Odd clothing will also help you have colorful conversations with strangers.
Give yourself permission to laugh. We all have voices in our heads that have weird ideas about laughter. Some may say that we’re not allowed to laugh at serious situations. Others might remind us that people who laugh when they’re blue are considered by some to be “delusional” or “in need of a nice long vacation.” The problem with the voices in our heads is that they are often wrong. Laughter is the flip slide of crying—you can use it as a tool to let out stress, pain, and anguish. Just remind yourself how much better you’ll feel if you do.
Yuk it up. Watch funny YouTube videos, read writings by your favorite funny people, go see comedies (try animation because they tend to have more laughs per minute). Now is the time to pull out all the comedy stops.
Look in the mirror for a really long time. That should crack you up just by itself. What you see there is a strong, resilient person who has weathered many storms. Pay attention to your laugh lines—how deep are they? If they require regular vacuuming, good for you. You’re using your humor regularly to live a healthier, happier life. Chances are you’re also a good role model for the people around you!
Leigh Anne Jasheway is a motivational speaker and stand-up comic who speaks at 40-60 conferences and workshops and performs at more than 30 shows a year. To date, more than one-quarter million people have seen her presentations. She has a masters degree in public health, is an expert in stress management, and has 15 published books. Leigh Anne has won numerous writing awards, including the 2003 Erma Bombeck Humor Writing Competition. Her website is AccidentalComic.com.