I wonder if we will ever revisit a time when the concept of “less is more” will return to our collective consciousness. Moderation in theory, is a wonderful concept, and could probably be easily achieved in a society that seeks it as a value or a period of time where excessivity is not an option. I was a product of parents who suffered through the depression and World War Two. There was a daily need to “make do”. I remember my mothers’ constant reminders on saving money. She was the essence of frugality. I grew up feeling that nothing could be truly savored “too much” since there could come a day when you wouldn’t have it. When I look back I wish I had incorporated more of my mothers’ sense of financial wisdom. In fact I believe the government would have not gotten into as much of an economic quagmire if my mother was in charge of the treasury. Unfortunately, we live in a time when we are constantly assaulted with messages that tell us we’re not okay unless we purchase the latest gadget or we aspire to look or feel good. Essentially they’re saying we got the goods so ante up and you’ll feel so much better. That means we need to go out and buy something that does the trick for us. I certainly have been caught up in that never-ending abyss. I have purchased more undergarments, makeup, toiletries, and clothing that I was convinced would change my appearance and essentially ended up making me look worse not better. Believe me, I’m not promoting walking around looking like you were just rescued from a collapsed coal mine. But there is room for common sense. None of the aforementioned provides miracles. It’s all temporary! Once you remove it you’re back to square one. Last night I saw a commercial that featured the latest facial cream developed by a celebrity dermatologist. It was about the same price as a Porsche. They showed the before and after of popular actresses faces who after the first few applications had visible lines, and looked years younger. Perhaps after a year of applying this elixir they will return to the womb. Believe me, I like moisturizers and body lotions. But I’ve also gotten a lot of mileage from Vaseline. What we never see commercials of is ads advocating for fresh fruits, vegetables, fresh air, a good nights’ sleep and a prescription for laughter. In the end looking and feeling good is an inside job. The rests are simply garnishes!
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.