People take life far too seriously. There are important issues in our world such as child abuse, war, poverty, starvation, disease, etc. These are all matters critical for the well-being of humanity. Each one needs to be addressed and resolved quickly in order to protect mankind and eliminate unnecessary suffering. But we give too much credence to incidences of little value and in turn cause ourselves grief and heartache. Add to that the unnecessary anger we experience and it’s no wonder we’re all so miserable.
Elbert Hubbard: “Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out of it alive.”
Laughter is a powerful tool that possesses many valuable qualities and serves multiple purposes. On a physical level, it strengthens the body’s natural immune system, reduces stress hormones, improves cardiovascular health, reduces pain, relaxes muscles, and much more. On a personal level, it brings people together, boosts moral, alleviates depression and stress, minimizes negative conflict, puts people at ease by reducing tension between them or in a particular situation, and increases our overall enjoyment of life. It also alleviates fear and anxiety, energizes us and makes us feel more alive; it puts us in a more positive optimistic mood, encourages resiliency, and intercepts, minimizes, and even heals anger. On every level, it’s an attribute worth utilizing in all aspects of our lives.
Dr. Bernie Siegel: “The simple truth is that happy people generally don’t get sick.”
But how do you use laughter to thwart anger? First and foremost, it’s critical to train ourselves to not take things so seriously. If someone comments that your homemade cupcakes are dry, rather than take personal offense, which leads to hurt feelings and anger, one can choose to respond with humor. “It’s my secret ingredient – sand.” Everyone can have a good laugh rather than becoming angry, putting people on the defensive, or escalating a simple comment into an argument.
Taking the proper steps necessary to be physically healthy, such as exercising, eating well, getting enough sleep, etc. is critical to warding off disease. So is developing a “laughable lifestyle” necessary to protect us against the perils of anger. Here are some suggestions.
The Laughable Lifestyle:
Look for humor in every situation. ~ Associate with funny, playful people including children.
Watch funny videos, TV shows, movies. ~ Go to a comedy club.
Read the comics in the newspaper. ~ Learn some good jokes and tell them to your family, friends, and coworkers.
Share a funny story with others. ~ Read funny greeting cards in your local Hallmark store.
Attend a laughter yoga class. ~ Be silly with your kids/grandchildren.
Do anything and everything silly: wear a funny hat when you go out to dinner; sing and/or dance while food shopping; skip instead of walk.
Engage in fun activities (bowling, miniature golf, etc) and make them funny.
Make some silly memories now! Those inane moments are the treasures that bring us joy as we age. They become some of our fondest memories and will naturally stir up laughter when recalled.
Look at the Lighter Side:
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Too often, we beat ourselves up for making poor decisions or not being good enough. We are hyper-critical of ourselves whereas we might be more understanding and compassionate towards others. Whenever we create a blunder, unless it causes serious duress to another, make light of it. Laugh at yourself!
When I moved into my current house, I chose an interesting color scheme for the living/dining room. My husband suggested I paint a small area first to determine if in fact I’d like it. But I was so confident that I painted both rooms in their entirety only to discover I was not happy with my color choice. Not only did I make this error once, I repainted nine times in one month before settling on a basic beige. Rather than be embarrassed or berate myself, I made sure to tell everyone my hilarious story of indecision. I embellished it each time I related it to someone new. Twenty years later, I still get teased and twenty years later we’re all still laughing about it. We’ve gotten a lot of laughter mileage out of that one incident.
Say or do things in a humorous way. Whenever possible, use exaggerated movements, funny facial expressions, a silly tone of voice. Embellishing any situation adds an new dimension of wit.*
Don’t take others seriously, either. When others make mistakes or behave in a manner unbefitting them, laugh it off.
A driver made an illegal left-hand turn at an intersection, cutting me off and nearly causing an accident. When I honked my horn to show him the “no left turn” sign, he went ballistic. Flailing his arms like someone swatting bees and ranting hysterically, I found myself amused at what a fool he was making of himself. Surprisingly , rather than become annoyed at his childish behaviors, I began laughing at his idiocy. “He can’t be serious,” I remember thinking to myself.
Be warned that you must be sensitive in this area. Never make fun of the person but instead joke about the incident if it allows for it. Be certain that you know the individual well enough to interject humor into the equation. Be very cautious when proceeding because this could backfire if you are inconsiderate of the other person’s feelings and situation. And keep in mind that sarcasm is not humor – it’s passive aggressive anger and is never appropriate to use against another human being.
Look for the humor in a dark situation. With very few exceptions, one can find humor even in the saddest, loneliest, or scariest times. A cancer patient, after losing her hair from radiation treatments, quipped that she was grateful that she didn’t have to dye her hair any longer. “It was such a pain!” she joked, “and expensive!” Unless it is a moral issue or one of life or death, most distress can be alleviated with a joke or two.
When our basement flooded years ago, my husband and I spent a total of fourteen consecutive hours siphoning up water. He moaned and complained the entire time. I got a rubber duck out of my closet, placed it in the four inches of water that covered the floor, and while I vacuumed up the water with my shop vac, I sang the rubber ducky song from Sesame Street. I took a difficult situation and brought humor into it. The task was far less aggravating for me than it was for my husband.
I recently had company for dinner. While making homemade biscuits, I forgot to add baking powder. Needless to say, they did not rise and were hard as a rock. My son-in-law commented that they looked like hockey pucks. The next day, I called him to say that I put them outside for the squirrels to eat but even they found them distasteful. They were, however, having a ball playing hockey.
Groucho Marx: “A clown is like aspirin only he works twice as fast.”
“If you can find humor in anything, you can survive it.” Bill Cosby
Surround yourself with reminders to laugh. Cut out cartoon strips or funny photos and place them on your refrigerator door, your desk, the bathroom mirror, etc., anywhere that they will remind you to find humor today.
Wear a clown costume while you’re mowing the lawn; spray paint your hair two different colors before visiting your mom; put smiley face stickers all over your shirt before going to work.
The more you seek humor the more you’ll find it; the more you pursue laughter the less you’ll focus on anger.
Have a laughing buddy. Like joy, humor shared is humor multiplied. Sharing laughter with others keeps relationships healthy and uplifted. It acts as a bonding agent that brings people together (unlike anger which causes a division). Relationships become more playful, vital, and supportive. It heals resentments, disagreements, and hurts, puts things into their proper perspective, and unites people in difficult times. Like chicken pox (only in a good way) laughter is contagious and when you share a good chuckle with another person, it magnifies your own joy as well.
Laughter at funerals used to be frowned upon but when my mother-in-law recently passed away, everyone was asked to wear crazy socks and ties. We all shared funny stories about Mary that soothed the loss and brought her family together. It was definitely what she would have wanted.
One of my favorite pass times is listening to my girls giggling with their cousins. Even though they’re all in their forties, they still laugh as they did when they were single digit ages. Their laughter is infectious and soon everyone within earshot is chuckling as well.
Don’t have a laughing buddy readily available? Pull up a video on Youtube of babies laughing. I guarantee it will activate your funny bone.
A smile is the beginning of laughter. So initially, you may want to begin with being conscious of your smile. Use is often; display it every place you go; share it with everyone you encounter. Make it the most important accessory you wear each day. It’s more significant than your makeup, hair style and color or wardrobe.
We are naturally drawn to laughter. It is our birthright and makes us feel good. And since you can only experience one emotion at a time, choose humor. It will prevent anger from arising and keep you healthy and beautiful at the same time. And it’s free. Doesn’t get any better than that.
Q** Will Rogers: “When I die I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did – not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car.”
Rodney Dangerfield: “My psychiatrist told me I was crazy. I said I wanted a second opinion. He said, Ok. You’re ugly too.”
A.A. Milne “People say nothing is impossible but I do nothing every day.”
Walter Matthau: “My doctor gave me 6 months to live but when I couldn’t pay the bill he gave me 6 months more.”
Rita Rudner: “I love being married. It’s great to find that one special person you can annoy for the rest of your life.”
George Burns: “I’m so old that when I was a boy, the Dead Sea was only sick.”
Charles Lamb: “I always arrive late at the office but I make up for it by leaving early.”
Mitch Hedberg: “I wish my name was Brian. This way when people misspell it and call me Brain, it’s like getting a free compliment and I don’t even have to be smart to notice it.”
*See comedian Sebastian Maniscalco: https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-mozilla-004&hsimp=yhs004&hspart=mozilla&p=sebastian+maniscalco#id=1&vid=c8c50ba0daa711f73c07e0b6571fb0d7&action=click
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