You are in a grim situation. Perhaps someone you dearly love has died. Perhaps you are getting divorced. Or maybe you are facing a deadly illness and prognosis. You have spent days, weeks, and even months in a netherworld in pain and confusion. You are searching for solace.
Sometimes it comes from unlikely places A conversation with a stranger in a waiting room. A phone call from a long-lost friend who wants to know you are in his/her thoughts. Comfort also comes from laughter. There is nothing more liberating. It makes you defy gravity by lifting your spirits, and taking you out of that grim, dark hole you’ve been living in.
“Nothing to me feels as good as laughing incredibly hard.”–Steve Carell
The power of laughter was underscored a few weeks ago when I was talking to Karen* (*not her real name) and her two friends about my recent diagnosis of breast cancer. To my surprise, Karen said, “I had it too. I got the diagnosis two weeks after my husband died.” For a moment, I simply stared at her. It seemed impossible that she lived through this knee-buckling blow, but there she was standing next to her two friends who were nodding as she spoke. Finally, I asked, “How did you deal with it? How did you get through it?”
She shrugged. “You just do it,” she said. “You don’t have a choice.”
And then, her friend Paul* (*not his real name) added, “We laughed a lot. She’d go for radiation treatments and once we blew up some rubber gloves and painted faces on them. The doctors couldn’t figure us out. Why are these people laughing?”
I smiled too, just imagining it. The somber waiting room. The patients lined up for their daily dose of radiation. Some of them with tender scalps, their hair just starting to grow back after chemo. And incongruously, people laughing, breaking the gloomy mood. This made me smile. “Rent lots of DVDs,” Paul advised me. “The sillier the better.”
I’ve taken their advice, and I can tell you that laughter works. It has powerful properties, which have been verified by research. So, one night this week during my first week of radiation, my son and I watched “Miss Congeniality.” I’ve also watched many reruns of “The Big Bang Theory.” Silly? Yes. But it doesn’t matter. Laughing felt so good. It is a helium balloon, lifting my spirits and making me realize that life still is wonderful.
Now, I have a gift for you. Two commercials for the Illinois State Tourism Board created by Odd Machine in Chicago, where my son works. Just imagine–a mini Abraham Lincoln doing extreme sports? And getting in shape for his first Oscar night? You will smile–I promise.
What other videos and TV shows should I add to this list? Any suggestions?
- Laughter For A Healthy Breast Cancer Recovery (breastcanceryogablog.com)
- Laugh in Adversity (professorthai.com)