Start With a Smile
We all need to LAUGH, for mental and physical health.
And we all have bad days, and even bad seasons in our lives. Sometimes they seem to go on forever, months or even years. I have gone through years of ‘quiet desperation’ in my life, going through the motions: going to work, talking and laughing, making meals, cleaning the bathroom, wondering what was the purpose of my life. My kids were always the highlight of my day, and I tried to laugh and joke with them every day. I also had friends at work that I could joke with and I became known as somewhat of a ‘work clown’, making jokes and puns, lightening up the situation, even in meetings.
Every day, look for something to smile about and then smile, even if you don’t feel like it. Smiling is addictive. The more you smile, the easier it is to keep smiling. And it is contagious. You smile at people and people will smile back at you, and possibly go on to smile at someone else. Your smile may be the bright spot in someone else’s bad day!
Hot is cool!
Take as many opportunities as you can to laugh. Find things that make you laugh and do them.
Some of the things that we did were playing board games and word games as a family, talking and joking as we made supper or worked on some project, doing crossword puzzles with my daughter, just sitting around and talking (which always includes laughing) with my sisters.
I am glad that my children all have a wonderful sense of humour. We taught them about puns and wordplays, and we used them a lot in regular conversation. Teach them to your children. When they look at the bonfire or a glassblower and say “That’s so cool!”, you can come back with “No, it’s hot!” You will be delighted when you hear the kids using that response to others!
It’s For Your Health
Laughing is as important for your health as eating your vegetables! It can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and release natural endorphins that make you feel good. There’s nothing better than a good hard belly laugh, where something is so hilarious that you just can’t stop laughing. Sometimes it’s more funny watching someone laugh than the thing they’re laughing at! And don’t things seem funnier when you are someplace where uncontrollable laughter is a little bit inappropriate, e.g. church or school? I think of my friend Rhonda and me singing in the church choir and laughing about something. We were in front of the whole congregation and supposed to be praising God, and every time we looked at each other, we would burst out into laughter that we just couldn’t hold back.
There are ways you can be intentional about laughing. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Find Funny Movies
Ditch the soap operas, the dramas, the tragic movies about death, loss, and manipulative people. Give me a comedy over a drama any day. Make a list of your favourite comedies that make you laugh out loud. Get them on DVD or watch them on Netflix or some other online venue.
Our family has some favourites that we will repeat the lines that made us laugh in the movie so we can relive the fun. Some of the movies that we watch and laugh over at least once a year are: The Man Who Knew Too Little, Mickey Blue Eyes, The Gods Must Be Crazy 2, and Elf. A favourite series that I like to watch over and over again is Frasier. It is full of witticisms, puns and one-liners, and always makes me laugh out loud. We also like action adventure and cop movies where the people kid each other and the puns fly: Cop-Out, Red, Night and Day, Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights, Lethal Weapon series, Miss Congeniality, Ant-Man. There are so many.
Some actors are just witty and amusing: Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Jacky Chan, Rebel Wilson, Melissa McCarthy, Jack Black, Kristen Wiig, Steve Martin, Tina Fey, Drew Barrymore, Sandra Bullock, Kevin James. These are just a few of my favourite funny people. You do have to be careful though, because not all of their movies are funny, and not all of their movies are appropriate for all age groups.
2. Buy Funny Books (or Borrow from the Library)
Have a list of humorous books that you can enjoy over and over again. Or get a book of jokes that you like. One of the authors that makes me laugh out loud is Sophie Kinsella and two of her best books, for me anyway, are “Twenties Girl” and “The Undomestic Goddess”. I also have a book of one-liners called “Great One Liners” that I like to browse through every so often. At the end of the day, I sometimes lie in bed and read some of the one-liners and just giggle to myself. E.g. “If you are going to try cross-country skiing, you should start with a small country!”
I used to have a subscription to Reader’s Digest monthly magazine. The first thing I would do was to go through it page by page and read all of the humorous anecdotes, jokes, funny articles, and regular funny features, like “Life’s Like That” and “Laughter is the Best Medicine”. I would mark the ones that made me laugh so I could reread them as I went through the rest of the articles.
Everybody has different ideas about what is funny. Find books that you can laugh through and keep them for those times when you need to be distracted by something amusing.
3. Hang Out With Funny People
Make friends with people you can laugh with. At least one good friend that you can joke around and laugh with is important for your health. Having inside jokes with people is fun – you can laugh about something hours, days, or even years later. I sometimes find myself laughing as I walk down the street remembering a past conversation or situation.
My daughter is a funny person that I love to hang out with. We often do crossword puzzles together, and laugh at the words we come up with. Or when we’re cooking or baking, and talking about our day, we usually find ourselves laughing over something that happened, or just the way something was explained or interpreted.
Laugh at Work
Once at work, I was having trouble setting up a meeting with my supervisor. I would check his calendar and then set up a meeting during a time that showed as ‘free’. He would respond that he couldn’t make it because of another scheduled meeting. After doing that a couple of times, I went over to talk to him and tell him that the calendar showed those times as ‘free’. When he looked at his calendar, it was ‘busy’. It was determined that his private meetings were not showing up (as ‘private meeting’) on my system, which is how it is supposed to work.
Just to make sure it wasn’t just me, I asked a co-worker to see what she saw when looking at my supervisor’s calendar. She too could not see the meetings that he had set up as private meetings. After trying a few things, she concluded with the statement, “Yeah, it looks like he’s doing something funny with his privates.” We looked at each other and then burst out laughing. We laughed about it for the rest of the day, and now, even years later, I still laugh when I repeat that line!
4. Search Online for Funny!
With the internet, we have unlimited access to funny. Readers Digest online has good clean funny jokes and stories. Check out YouTube or Google search; just type ‘funny’ in the search box and it will come up with several options for you to choose from. Search for jokes, quotes, anecdotes, videos, whatever makes you laugh. If you don’t want to spend time on the internet and get sidetracked (and we all know how easy it is to lose hours following links), you can subscribe to have jokes or funny stories sent to your inbox every day. Then you can look at your one joke in the morning and get on with your day!
5. Spend Time With Kids
Listen to and enjoy your children, or your nieces and nephews, or other children that you have the opportunity to spend time with. They can be hilarious! Or at least they can make you smile with their antics and their conversations. And if you have twins, you can have twice the fun!
Some of the amusing things my kids have said:
- “Mom, when did we get Dad?”
- While praying, “… and please help people to do up their seat belts before the cops come.”
- When they’re whining about something, and I ask them “What did I say?” (in a warning voice), and they say “Stop whinin’.”
- Six-year old Boy (at bedtime): “Mom, can you rub my balls?” Me: “Umm… pardon?” Boy: “You know, could you rub the balls of my feet.”
- “Liar, liar, pencil on fire.” (I guess it makes as much sense as “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”)
And just the fun pronunciation of things as they learn to talk makes me smile. Here are some of the words my kids used:
- Tootie (cookie)
- Tandy (candy)
6. Play With Fido and Fluffy
Pets, with their unconditional love and acceptance, have a unique ability to bring a smile to your face. I have had both cats and dogs, and they have been equally lovable and appreciated.
It is very calming to have a cat curled up, purring, in your lap. And it is fun to play with them with a piece of string or a light beam. Or a dog (minus the purring) in your lap or by your feet or beside you on the couch. Dogs just adore you when you come home, or get out of bed, or just turn to look at them.
Best of all is if you have a cat and a dog that love each other and play together. It is fantastic to watch. Our Bandit and Kitty regularly entertained us with their cavorting.
It is a joy to see a beloved dog running full tilt towards you, a look of delight on their face, just for the pure pleasure of running towards you! (No, it’s not just the treat that you may be holding!) Playing with my pups makes me laugh – their picking up and shaking their stuffed toy, their chasing and jumping to catch the frisbee, their running into the lake after a stick.
Cats and dogs have their own personalities and their own habits. Enjoy their individuality. Laugh at their funny and endearing antics.
Choose to Laugh
In many cases, being happy or sad is a choice that you can make.
Sometimes we just want to wallow in our misery. That’s OK… for a short time. So cry, scream, rant and rave (but not at your friends and relatives, or even your annoying co-workers), throw pillows (or something soft that can’t do much damage), go outside and kick the grass.
And then, do something else. Start with a smile. Then figure out a way to laugh for awhile.
And If You Can’t?
I know that sometimes smiling is impossible, let alone laughing. And there may be mental or emotional disorders or chemical imbalances that affect your mood for a short or a long time.
Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. Talk to a family member – mother, brother, aunt, grandfather, daughter. Or a friend – from work, school, church. If you don’t want to talk to someone so close to you, see your doctor or your minister. They can help you to get the help you need. If they don’t, change doctors or churches.
But please, find a way to have joy and laughter in your life. It is important for your health and for your life.
Laugh often and laugh well.
What makes you laugh?
‘Til next time…
From Your Mom