laughing-reduces-stress

Me doing what I love best, laughing!

Note to self: add “Babe” to Netflix queue. I know, this seems crazy even to me. I am a grown woman, after all. But it’s the ridiculousness of a pig that talks, not exactly what she says, that makes me laugh. The looks I get when I confess my weakness for talking animals are priceless. My fondness for them is surprising because slapstick comedy just makes my eyes roll. Actors tripping over chairs and falling on their faces just reminds me of Larry, Curly and Moe bopping each other in the face and that was just plain weird.

Laughing makes me so happy. Saturday is April Fools Day and is my annual reminder of how important it really is. I’m a devoted fan of humor but it’s a personal thing. I’ve been on the receiving end of recommendations lots of times, only to end up scratching my head, “Why is this funny, again?” I say this to myself since it clearly had the recommender rolling in the aisles. I don’t mean to be a stick-in-the-mud, but bathroom humor and large doses of profanity don’t tickle any of my funny bones.

HOWEVER, silly cat videos can. I was slow to come onboard with this one. Because I don’t have any pets of my own, this seemed like a huge waste of time. Who in their right mind could laugh at cats walking on piano keys or boxing at their own reflections in the mirror? Oh, how I scoffed… at first. But that was then. Now I’m tuning in to cats, dogs, babies, pigs, geese and goats. If only they could really talk!

I love comedians and my latest favorite is Trevor Noah. He’s the Late Night host on Comedy Central with the usual trove of political bashing, but his stand-up is all together different. (Netflix: “Noah Trevor: African American“) I laughed myself silly. This routine, which was his view of American life, can be described in just four words, absurdity-of-the-truth. (“Please explain to me how the abbreviation for pounds became lbs. Where is the L? Where is the B?”)

Trevor grew up bi-racial in South Africa during apartheid, when it was illegal for blacks and whites to marry. His candid observations of the American way of life, along with his own story, woke me up to many things that, as a white woman who grew up in the U.S., I’d never thought about before. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Laughing and learning are two of my favorite things, and what could be better than doing both at the same time? All of this, delivered with a charming South African accent and engaging smile. Nice.

Humor Can Save Your Sanity!

Smiles also send me. It’s what I notice first about the face of someone new. Then, as time goes on, I begin to wish they used their smile more. I know it’s hard to keep upbeat when your brain’s tapped 24/7 into with whatever’s going on… everywhere. Along with my own problems, now I’m stewing about everyone’s else’s. Now I’m stewing about the inhumanities and chaos all over the world, not to mention in my own Washington D.C. But smiles are meant to be used and can, in themselves, bring me out of a funk.

I could, of course, turn it all off. Get up, do my work, and tend to my home, my husband and my health. This in itself can fill a brain, but being a part of current culture is important to me. Staying informed makes sure that my point of view goes beyond the bubble of my own life. I’m sure there’s a sweet spot somewhere between sanity and the desire to stay vital and engaged until I’m 99. One year beyond my mother.

One thing’s for sure, I don’t do stress well and work hard to eliminate anxiety before it keeps me awake all night. Laughter is my salvation and comics are a godsend. Some days just watching some weird and crazy video that someone took in their backyard does the trick. Thank you, YouTube. Thank you, Facebook friends! Actually, I don’t even need something funny because the mere sight of someone else laughing gets me going. Something about that sound says “Welcome to my party!”

SECRET: Find funny stuff wherever you can. Then start and end the day with at least a small chuckle. Laughing is better, but chuckling is a start. For those three minutes at least, you can forget about all that might be troubling you. YouTube, podcasts, and the humor section at the bookstore are good starts.