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.
Previously, our “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.
Your body and brain will thank you.