Monday, August 02, 2010

A cure for what ails me

What do you call a fish with no eyes?

A fsh!

OK, that was so corny that you could shuck it and roast it, but as I write this, I'm desperately in search of a laugh.

It's been that kind of a day, not a terrible day, but one that bogs me down in negative thinking. If I can't change the day, then I can at least change my attitude toward it.

A good belly-laugh is better medicine than almost anything than I can think of. Studies show that laughter boosts immunity, lowers stress hormones, decreases pain, relaxes your muscles, and may even prevent heart disease -- and that's just the physical benefits. For me, it helps me find some distance from a situation that I want to fix NOW, even though that's either not possible or above my pay grade.

But laughing is not like breathing for me ... it's not automatic. I can forget to laugh. I can forget to look for humor in life. I can forget to laugh at myself.

And it's only when I'm this tense, tightly-wound attack spring, a bad-tempered Jack-in-the-Box, that I realize, quick, I need to laugh.

First step? Smile.

Yep. A snapshot of a laugh at conception would have to be a smile. So when I get so foul-tempered I can't even stand myself, I poke those corners of my mouth up instead of down. Just a little twitch -- not a grimace, not a fake smile, not a Cheese! smile for a photographer. And trust me, within five seconds, I actually feel lighter.

Second step? I poke fun at myself and my near melt-down in response to whatever the status quo is. I try doing it in a respectful way, because what you say to yourself, even in the privacy of your own head, can hurt just as much as if someone else was saying it -- more, sometimes, because you almost always believe yourself. But if I can laugh at myself, then I take myself and the situation a lot less seriously.

And that's always a good thing, because the pressure's off, and when the pressure's off, solutions can float in. An intense humorless person can be like one of those negative-pressure-air device the CDC uses: nothing goes out, nothing goes in. That may be really good when working with super bugs, but when I begin to resemble a room equipped with one of those gadgets, I know I'm not at my most creative best.

Third? I go TOWARD laughter -- whether it's a corny joke on the internet about a fish, or down the hall to where my co-workers are or on Twitter or -- you get the pix. I just keep hunting that first chuckle. Because if a smile makes me feel lighter, then a chuckle makes me feel like I'm a helium balloon.

For instance, The Kiddo just wandered in here, bored out of her skull, slinging a ball cap on her index finger. I am trying to get this blog done, and have been interrupted just slightly less than nine hundred ga-jillion times by every two-legged member of the household. My first instinct, when the cap hits her in the mouth, is to dish out an I-told-you-so. But she laughs, and that reminds me to laugh, too, so I do -- and tell her that she's been "pecked" on the mouth by the bill of a cap, which makes both of us laugh more.

Once again, humor defuses the situation, gives me oodles more patience, and doesn't escalate things -- including my bad mood!

And just in case the first joke didn't give you enough corn to shuck and roast, I got a chuckle out of this one, too:

A dyslexic man walks into a bra ...

Get it?


Mia said...

Sorry for the rough day. Laughter does cure a lot, huh? :) I tend to always resort to laughter when I'm stressed, sad, angry, etc. It'd probably be better for me to face my problems instead of ignoring them), but at least the laughter makes things feel less serious.

Plus, in my family, it's hard to stay in a bad mood. There's always someone telling the story of how they got stung by a wasp that day from Mr. Wasp's (usually named) POV, or a person writing down their will when they get a paper cut. It's a wonder I turned out slightly normal ;)

Jessica said...

I tend to be the opposite, easy to smile, quick to laugh... but it doesn't mean I'm Mary Poppins everyday either.

What you said was true about forcing yourself to smile. Tony Robbins quoted a study done with clinically depressed people who were cured 100% of their depression after this simple exercise: Look at yourself in the mirror and SMILE as BIG as you can for twenty minutes a day.

He also states that motion = emotion, so movement helps as well. Sometimes when I have the doldrums, I realize I'm sitting with my shoulders rolled forward and my head down while listening to Alanis Morrisette and think "no wonder I'm down!"

Here's another for you.

What do you call a dear with no eyes?

No ideer.


Linda G. said...

LOL! At the "bra" joke, of course. ;)

What you say about forcing a small smile when you don't really feel like it is actually backed by scientific research. The physical act of using those particular muscles apparently causes your brain to reflexively release some "feel-good" endorphins. Keep smiling for a while, and they build up enough to make a difference.

Personally, I think I've become addicted to those endorphins. Nothing I love better than laughing.

Hope today proves to be a better one for you!

Kelly Breakey said...

Smiles are contagious too. You can't help but smile when you see someone else who is so tickled with life in general.

Glad you have a sure fire remedy to keep those smiles coming. I will be using this one for sure.

Penelope said...

Sorry you're not having a great day, but I'm glad you're able to take steps towards overcoming it.

My two solutions for such days are excessive hugging with my five-year-old joy and running. :)

Stephanie Thornton said...

I hope your day gets better- I know all about the blahs. Usually it's my daughter that perks me up. Or I make cookies.

Mary Anne Gruen said...

It's usually four legged folks who disturb me during the day. I'm going to try your suggestions. Poking up the corners of my mouth is helping already.

I don't know if it will help improve your day, but I've given you an award over at my blog. Don't worry passing it on if awards aren't your thing. Just consider it a shout-out for your blog.

Julie Musil said...

Laughter is the best medicine! I even wrote an article about that (I'll shamelessly plug it with this link

I'm glad you got out of your funk and enjoyed some giggles with the kiddo.