The complaint that “there is nothing good on the news” is
not new. I can remember hearing my parents say that, back in the days of the Vietnam
War, after the daily “casualty counts” on the nightly news. I didn’t even know
what a “casualty” was then; trying to figure out why a word with “casual” in it
was a bad thing. I had the same trouble at that age with the word “real
estate.” It made me wonder if there were fake estates. Today, I don’t mind hearing “real estate” in a conversation, but wish
I would never hear the word “casualty” again.
Like many baby boomers, I can look back at my life, and see,
highlighted, all the terrible and tragic things I have been alive to see,
starting with the assassination of President Kennedy. It was the first time I
saw my parents afraid, the first time I found out that they could cry, and the
time when the words “nuclear bomb” became burned into my brain.
“duck and cover” exercises in school had a kind of “hide and seek” quality.
After Kennedy’s death, I lived in terror that the bombs would come next, and
that sooner or later I would see a mushroom cloud through the window. At the
time, I was too young to realize that living in Brooklyn put me right in a
direct hit area. Maybe we would see a flash, but then … nothing.
I can’t help but think of these things when I hear the words
“casualties” and “nuclear war,” along with all the new threats to the world, on
the news. “There is nothing good on the news.” Even when there is something
called a “human interest story” it almost seemed forced, and always squeezed in
between the mayhem.
It is enough to awaken a cranky voice of self-doubt in my
head. The one that likes to tell me I’m an imposter, or a failure, or an omelet
burner. This time, the voice is attacking my Laughter Wellness practice, saying
things like, “What is there to laugh about?” “You are trying to force people to
be happy.”“Laughing while x, y or z is
happening is disrespectful!”
So, to this voice, I keep repeating, “Let’s take life one
laugh at a time.” Let’s try to find the humor, joy and awe in life anew each
day. Some days we will be successful, other days not. Some days the laughter
will be an exercise just for the health of our body and minds. You may not feel
like walking or sit-ups, but you encourage yourself to keep doing them because
you know they are good for you. Regular laughter is just as necessary.
To paraphrase Mr. Rogers, look for the laughers. Call the
friend who makes you smile. Tell each other those shared stories that make you
laugh. Try a laughter yoga class and learn to laugh for no reason. Take life
one laugh at a time.