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Be Happy - Choose Humor
May 19, 2004
by Debbie Gisonni

What would you think of me if I told you I had an uncontrollable laughing fit at my mother's funeral? Yes, it really did happen! Knowing it wasn't socially acceptable, I tried to suppress it, but after a while, I felt like a balloon that was holding too much air. When I finally let it out, I had a tremendous emotional release. I guess my subconscious chose laughing over crying that day. Given a choice, I'd much rather laugh.

Sometimes the most difficult circumstances in life provide us with the most humor--if we're open to it. During a time of long-term family illness and multiple tragedies, I remember many moments of laughter amid all the sadness and grief. I realized that when things got bad, my family could always find the funny side of pain, because we were used to laughing at ourselves--from my mother's crazy, mixed up Italian/American/Brooklyn accent to our own clumsy falls. So when my mother was hooked up to a respirator and couldn't speak, we had no trouble playing a humorous alphabet game to communicate with her. When she lost her gag reflex and couldn't eat, we made funny faces mimicking her as she sung her daily vocal exercises, which consisted of ten minutes of ear piercing sounds.

From a very young age, we are taught to be responsible, which often translates into being serious like adults. We become experts in drama, but never really learn the ins and outs of comedy. Have you ever been around someone who can laugh at her own shortcomings, find humor in any situation, and make you laugh as well? Those are people with a unique talent and gift to humanity. They help lighten the load in life and work by showing you a more balanced, less serious perspective.

I remember a scene from TV news (you know...the messengers of gloom and doom) during the coverage of the September 11th tragedies. It was a clip of hundreds of frantic people running to escape the falling rubble from the crumbling World Trade Center. A reporter stopped one man whose face was covered in black ash. His hair was disheveled, tie undone, shirttails hanging out. As the reporter asked for his comment, the man started to smile, almost chuckling to himself, as he answered, "I'm sixty-four years old, but I can still run like I'm sixteen!" Despite the horrific tragedy happening behind him, he was able to find one grateful thing to laugh about.

As you struggle with life on earth, magnifying and internalizing all of your problems, listen to your higher self. I'm sure it's telling you, "Lighten up, already!"

Five ways to choose humor in your life:

  • In a terrible situation, look for isolated moments that are funny by themselves, regardless of the bigger picture.
  • Give yourself permission to laugh, and have fun every day in any circumstance.
  • Watch comedies on TV and film, and appreciate the masters at work.
  • Don't take yourself, your ego or job too seriously; they can all be gone tomorrow.
  • Try to get a baby to laugh--watch and listen to how funny you can be!

Copyright © 2003 Debbie Gisonni, All Rights Reserved.

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