13 September, 2015

Laugh harder



Spoiler, the following might make you wince. I have “Life is Better when You’re Laughing” stenciled across my bedroom wall. In GIANT letters. I know. Although today, in the age of motivational quotes, this is bang on trend, I will more than likely look back on this choice of décor one day and cringe at my very self. For now, hear me out. 

There is no handier tool for facing the challenges of our world, and preventing the worst of emotions from growing roots in your heart, than humour. We've long since known it, Patch Adams knew it, and now my bedroom wall knows it too. My days have required perhaps more than a normal dose of humour this year. If 2015 were on match.com, its profile would read: “Excitable year, age 2015. Bit of a lunar-tic. Don’t contact me if you are a leap year. GSOH absolutely necessary.”

It’s not always easy to have good humour, like when you have to catch a train on 3 hours sleep, after a fun night of vomming (nice), with a world of personal woes doing a merry dance in the background, and still, somehow, schmooze. It’s not always a hoot when after the most ridiculous day you find yourself walking home in the pissing rain with no jacket or brolly, no cash, wearing sandals that do not want to remain on your feet and your top has gone see-through p.s. (Both recent events from  my life). Sometimes, in those moments, you just want to lie down and have a bawl. But sometimes after the tears, after the ARE.YOU.KIDDING.MEs, after the histrionics – sometimes, you just reach a point of just finding it all funny. 

Sadness, anger and all those things will always have their moments in our lives, but how much they consume us? We have some control over that.

For me, it comes down to distraction. When a child is crying, you shake a maraca in their face and suddenly it’s like Santa appeared behind you. The tears just stop. The look of utter disbelief on their faces. What IS this wondrous object? And when will I be old enough to SHAKE IT!? They forget they are upset and then they aren't anymore. Guess. What. It works on adults too. The only difference is, we have to work to distract ourselves.

It’s easier once you make the decision to look at life’s challenges in a different way. To see your life as a story unfolding, and look forward to it with curiosity and excitement, rather than dread. It’s a mental switch. It involves sort of watching your own life as though it were The Mindy Project or better still, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. It’s about stopping taking it all so seriously and knowing that this is just one day, or one phase, and actually it’s really not that bad compared to real, human struggles. Which most of us are fortunate enough to never have to face.

Last night I was talking to a friend about one of the many hilarious scenarios in the carousel of my life, and she said “Hannah, I don’t know how you are laughing!” Because it be funny. I do find my own mistakes and the ridiculous situations I find myself in to be mainly entertaining, except for when I am in a really bad mood and that’s usually because I haven’t been fed.

I can honestly say that even on some of the most terrifying, sad, draining days of this year, I have laughed at least once. And that’s been a god send. There are a few tricks to keeping merriment up and sadness down, and I wanted to share mine with you. If something brings you down this week, step back and add a funny caption to the scenario – it might make all the difference.

x

Join the comedy club

Buddying up with comedians (or indeed, comediennes) is a great start. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by funny people. At work, among my friends, hell, even my landlord makes me giggle. I grew up alongside the funniest girl I know (my older sister) and I follow as many funny people as I can on Twitter. I just love funny people. So much. Because they bring all of us a smile and sometimes they don’t realise what a difference that makes to our day.

Those little things

I have said this countless times, in countless blog posts, but in little things there is just endless joy. It’s not so easy to touch on when big life shite is weighing you down, but most days you can find something at least to smile about. And a smile is the beginning of a laugh. Most recently for me, I have been overjoyed by the Starbucks Autumn cup design and a £12 cardi from Primark.I mean, high life.

Puns

I find puns in everything. It’s exhausting, but there is always pun to be had.

Absorb funny content

The difference it can make to my day when a film, a book, an article or even a tiny tweet has made me laugh is absolute. It just combats my anxiety and helps me gain perspective. Part of my job involves delivering training to big groups of people, and despite having done it for a while now I always feel nervous, and sometimes seriously anxious, on the way there. So I save my favourite funny reads for the train ride - it gives me perspective and helps me feel strong. I can recommend anything by Tom Craine. When there’s signal I’ll hit YouTube and watch hilarious, strong women bossing it at speeches.

“It is a happy to talent to know how to play” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Because I can barely write a post without referencing big RWE. And beacause my friends and I do a few things that are a bit like the grown-ups answer to play (no, I am not talking about sex). Mainly, we talk in accents. When arranging social plans, it’s Australian. When discussing big life issues, it’s American (there is a crucial difference).

On the surface it’s just a silly thing we do that’s annoying for other people, but underneath that it’s a way of taking a step back from our own lives, remembering this is just one part of our story, and remembering not to take ourselves too bladdy seriously!

Let your inner child out

The other day someone said of me “you are just a really big child!” Apart from the reference to “really big” (rude) I took this as the ultimate compliment. Yes, I can be really, really silly. And I think it’s important. Being someone who is sensitive and feels all the emotions in a big way, I have had to learn the importance of entertaining my inner child. Because when you do that, your heart sort of learns to feel lighter.

My favourite people are those who can (when appropriate) embrace their childish urges and who aren’t bound by a need to “be” grown-up all the time. BORING. Yes, watch the news and earn your wage and try to understand who’s running the country, but eat sweets for breakfast sometimes, wear a onesie and for the love of God ride on the legs of the trolley at the supermarket.

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