Monday, August 02, 2010
A cure for what ails me
What do you call a fish with no eyes?
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 ...