I have been a devotee of self-help books for years. Many of them were very helpful in showing me how I could change thoughts and behaviors that did not serve me. I also have spent a great deal of my life keeping abreast of information in the fields of psychology and neuroscience. What has always fascinated me is that there is very little credit given to how humor can help us to navigate our daily lives. Oh the research is there. It has been growing exponentially for years . Laughter has many mental and physical benefits, but does not appear to be part of most health providers evaluations for their clients. I personally have not had a doctor ask me how often I laugh. And when I ask my audiences if they have, very few raise their hands. Laughter appears to many to be an act of frivolity, available and appropriate when one is very young, but something that needs to be muted in deference to more serious adult pursuits like being busy and productive all the time. What fascinates me is why the two concepts are not compatible. Can I be busy and still laugh and enjoy myself? Obviously in many sectors of business, healthcare and government that is considered verboten. Believe me, I am not advocating for people to act like fools or to create a circus atmosphere at work or in public, but I do know that without laughter we are living without the ability to look at life with a healthy perspective. When we are looking through the lens of humor we are more able to see ourselves as the cosmic joke, and life’s inevitable ups and downs become easier to navigate. I wish every school and business would give some time every week to allowing people to simply laugh. Interestingly enough, it doesn’t matter if it’s authentic or not, since the end result is the same. I know that my sense of humor has gotten me through a difficult childhood, divorce, and several health issues. It has been my souls’ preservation. If you want to increase your humor quotient, start paying more attention to what makes you laugh. Not everyone laughs at the same things. I was never one for finding slapstick comedy funny. My kids loved the three stooges, I didn’t. I’m more in tune with Ellen DeGeneres, Billy Crystal and Jerry Seinfeld. But I am also likely to find the funny in the everyday of my existence. That’s why I try to impress upon my audiences that they should try to discover their own inner sitcom, which will allow them to be amused even when their alone. Which means if you “show up” you’ll become your own entertainment center.
How often have you sat down for a few minutes to chill out, when you start hearing those nagging inner voices asking, “Why are you resting, you know you don’t have time for this!” Get up. Don’t just sit there. You have lots to do. Keep going!” I often wonder when we first start accumulating those critics that are always so ready to make us feel that we just haven’t made the grade yet. I know a lot of it starts when we’re young kids. If you watch toddlers you can see they’re not affected yet by those critics. They’re usually running around, going from one thing to another, yelling when they feel like it, giggling, stopping in awe at a bug crawling along the floor that we would probably kill instantly. We are so over being dazzled by a bug. We’re on to Smart Phones and how exciting it is to have them be able to remind us of what we need to do. Kids are so wrapped up in their delightful, adventurous activities, and so totally involved, that it’s no wonder the universal mantra for parents is “Please look at me, I’m talking to you!” We hope that if they look at us, it will break the spell. I realize that all of us need some discipline in our lives and certainly we should become responsible and accountable. Unfortunately some of us have been overburdened with messages that taught us to always be vigilant as to what we need to do. Somewhere along the way we have forgotten how to enjoy life along with being responsible. We have become one with our “to do list”. It has taken me years to allow myself not to be at the mercy of my mothers’ voice. Many of her messages made sense, but her constant need to make sure that tasks had to be completed before you could have fun became one I carried around for years. I remember making sure my room was neat even though I could barely get out of bed due to a high fever and the flu. “What if someone came over with some chicken soup and they saw my bedroom in disarray”? After all there is a bedroom police isn’t there? I finally realized that it doesn’t matter. What’s really important is to realize that the internal critics you’ve inherited can be dismissed. To become your most authentic self you have to find your own voice. In the end you really have the last word.