In designing a class for individuals struggling with chronic illness, our three member team examined all facets of life that were affected by chronic illness and pain. We all agreed there needed to be a balance between the adjustments illness and pain thrust upon us and finding a way to bring joy and happiness back into our life. So our class material contained handouts on humor and a lesson devoted to taking adversity and finding some way to laugh at it.
It doesn’t matter what the tragedy, if we can find that speck of humor, it can make the journey bearable. When we take what happens and laugh at ourselves, we have elevated ourselves above our situations. It replaces the sting of pain and interjects it with hope and normalcy.
Here are some ways you can put humor in your life.
Take your bad day and deliberately blow it out of proportion. Make a mountain out of that molehill to the extent that it becomes humorous. Linda Richman calls it “creative catastrophizing”. Successful comedians take difficult situations and exaggerate them until we have to laugh. “I had such a bad day . . . you wouldn’t believe how bad it was . . . it was so bad. . . “It might seem awkward at first, but the more we exaggerate our problems into laughter, the less power they have to keep us down.
Turn your situation into good news/bad news
Start with the bad news and then end it with a humorous punch. The bad news was I lost the keys to my car; the good news, I found my checkbook I lost weeks ago.
Start a “Happy Diary” or a “Blessings Journal”
The world looks gray and dismal when you are hurting. Paste a large smiling face on the cover. In fact post smiling faces all over your house: on your bathroom mirror, your refrigerator, you car dashboard, your computer, etc.
Purposely look for blessings every day and record at least one happy, pleasant or joyful event. Include the times when someone said something that made you smile, or sent you warm comments or made you laugh. Write about a beautiful sunset or a favorite saying. Paste cards and letters in it. Write a love letter to yourself.
Use affirmations daily
Make a list of positive affirmations and say them every day as often as you can. Here are some you can start with.
I choose to be happy this very minute
I love to laugh
I see humor and love and beauty all around me
I take charge of my life
I choose to let go of bitterness, judgment and anything that keeps me from feeling peaceful and good
I am so thankful to a loving God for all my blessings
Make a list of fun things to do
Include all the things you have always wanted to do. Choose to do one each day. Keep adding to the list. It is a proactive way to step out of our sad or depressive feelings.
Smile at yourself every time you pass a mirror!
At the same time, give yourself a big hug. (Simply wrap your arms around yourself and squeeze!) Then, the next person you meet, ask for and give them a big hug. Hug somebody new each day while still being sensitive to their individual private space. I have found that most people not only are willing to receive hugs, but want to give them as well. Cut out jokes and cartoons and place them around the house. Create some of your own. Even stick figures can make us laugh.
Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC