My tagline is “Helping people find the joy in everyday life,” and a part of that involves being able to see and appreciate the humor in everyday life.
In fact, I consider humor an important enough part of life that I even have a piece about developing a sense of fun on my website.
A caterer friend was baking pastries for a large event and had grated three cups of lemon zest when her young son came in and bumped the measuring cup, breaking the glass and spilling the lemon zest. Another friend who was there at the time held his breath, waiting for the inevitable huffing and puffing.
Instead the caterer burst out laughing. When she stopped, she said, “That was pretty funny, Chris!” She knew he didn’t do it to mess up her timetable. It was an accident.
She has an uncanny ability to find the humor in a situation most of us would find incredibly frustrating. Rather than waste time on something that couldn’t be undone, she understood where he was coming from (it was an accident), had a good laugh, and started zesting more lemons.
That’s a healthy response that allows her to enjoy life much more than many people do.
Humor at your own expense is also your own reward!
And laughing at oneself is one of the best things going.
I’m not talking about laughter as a defense, where everything is a joke, but about lightening up overall. Life is too short to collect your injustices—and what would you do with them anyway?! It’s not like you can trade them in like frequent flyer miles.
I know someone who was depressed and went to a neighborhood workshop on laughter and healing. She thought even a chuckle would be good for her.
Alas, it was the 1980s and lots of strange things went on! Each participant was asked to name the saddest event of his or her childhood. Sexual abuse. Death of a sibling. The list continued. Each person was then instructed to talk about the event in detail while everyone else would laugh.
The depressed person, rather than walking out—which would have been the smart thing to do!—talked about the death of her father when she was a teenager, and began to cry. She was scolded by the workshop leader.
On the walk home, she thought about her experience and realized she was doing better: thinking about crying her way out of the laughter workshop cracked her up!
Carol Burnett says that humor is tragedy plus time, a statement I disagree with.
Nothing funny about tsunamis and tornadoes.
But I think humor can be annoyance and inconvenience coupled with a good attitude—and it will probably make a good story later.
If life seems pretty humorless to you, therapy can help you with whatever gets in the way, so that you can find the humor—as well as the joy—in everyday life!
Diane Spear, LCSW-R, owns a private practice in the Union Square/East Village area of Manhattan (New York City). She specializes in anxiety, depression, couples, and parenting treatment, and has been helping people find the joy in everyday life since 1995. She is accepting new patients. To learn more about Diane’s approach to treatment, click here.