Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Humor Is a Funny Thing

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

Picture of a Stilted ClownWriting regularly gives me a chance to explore many different thoughts and feelings. Sometimes I’m very serious, but other times I can’t help laughing as I write. Erma Bombeck I’m not, but I enjoy sharing my light-hearted moods with you, the reader.

Without humor, life would be unbearably flat, and our conversations exceedingly dull. Our lack or perspective and balance would make our world seem too grim to bear.

I’m always amazed when people complain about my humor. I accept that my jokes aren’t always terrific. But I’m really shocked when the reason turns out to be because some people don’t feel it’s ever appropriate for a professional to ever be funny. Some people think that adults, especially doctors, should take life seriously. No laughter, no frivolity, just the facts, ma’am. (By the way, if you’re too young to recognize the reference, check out any version of Dragnet. Those detectives are so serious they’re funny.)

While there are some topics I never make light of, I have to admit that generally I find life pretty funny. Laughter is one way of admitting we don’t know all the answers, and that we often get our priorities mixed up. The ability to laugh at ourselves is very special. Without it, we take ourselves much too seriously.

If you can laugh at yourself, you can admit there’s room for improvement. When you laugh at life’s ups and downs, you are acknowledging that it isn’t perfect. I like the older satirists like Tom Lehrer and Mark Russell who made us realize how funny politics can be. Or Erma Bombeck and Peg Bracken who made us smile at home life. (I found them especially useful in those years when I was raising three sons!) While world politics and family life are serious areas, laughing at them can keep us from despair.

Despair makes us apathetic, but laughter doesn’t. Hopefulness keeps us moving towards change. Laughter is hope. It makes us realize that we are smart enough to see through the problem, and strong enough to do something about it. Even in situations that seem overwhelming, laughing at something silly can do more to create energy for a change than crying over the inevitable. And nothing defuses a fight faster than when both parties suddenly start laughing over the silliness of it all. Laughter can help reduce pain, improve your immune system, and increase your overall health.

People who are anxious and depressed have often lost the ability to laugh, especially at themselves. Everything seems serious and dreary. You don’t have to be a Pollyanna, always looking for the good side of bad things. Nor should you plaster on a fake smile and pretend things aren’t as bad as they seem. We’re not talking about that old advice to count your blessings, although that can certainly be helpful. No, we’re talking about the fact that we can all look pretty funny when we’re climbing out of the pits.

The best kind of humor can help us feel closer to other people, not farther away. It can give us hope by refreshing our perspective. It can keep us from being pompous or self-righteous. Laughter makes us part of the human race, and that’s a pretty funny race to be running!

Sometimes There Is No Easy Button

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

There seems to be a fine line between acknowledging that old age has some inherent characteristics, and assuming that being old is a problem in itself. Lumping all older people together into a category is unfair. Assuming they all have the same problems is also unfair. It’s a form of discrimination.

It’s easy to do this kind of stereotyping but it isn’t realistic when dealing with individuals. Today I spent over an hour at a nursing home encouraging and exhorting a woman just a few years older than I to push her own wheelchair to the dining room. She’s done it many times, and, more important, it’s essential if she is to keep her blood circulation, muscle tone, and cognitive skills from deteriorating. But did she ever get angry at me! She said it was ‘tiring’ to try.

Today I also spent over an hour with an 88 year old friend as we struggled to learn how to do something on the computer. ‘Tired’ is an understatement for how we felt when we were finished, but ‘exhilarated’ is another adjective that would be appropriate. And we won’t stop trying to learn something new next week! And I won’t even complain about all the exercise I, and my friends, do to keep our bodies active. Tired? Yes. Healthier? You bet!



Saturday, October 21st, 2006

My middle son teaches me a lot. All my sons teach me a lot about living in the 21st century! He certainly taught me a lot about blogging. He pointed out that it was just journaling shared with others. He said ‘You journal everyday, Mom’ As I paused to let the reality sink in and doors open in my mind, he paused and said, ‘By the way, why?’Good Morning, the world has changed cartoon.


Some Really Psych Humor

Monday, October 16th, 2006

Farside CartoonDoctors and other medical professionals develop a certain mystique that can frighten the pants off (or wallet from) any average consumer. Graduate programs teach effective ways to develop this aura of professional mystery by encouraging the use of jargon that describes the most mundane symptoms in the most terrifying way.

Psychologists and other mental health workers are as guilty of this as medical doctors. Insurance forms and professional protocol require the labeling of behavior in the most mystifying ways. Unfortunately, even the DSM IV-R, the bible of diagnostic labels, doesn’t quite cover all the extremes to which we may be exposed.
In the interests of educating consumers, and expanding the boundaries of technical jargon, we offer the following guide to some syndromes you may encounter in everyday life.

Obnoxious Disorder of Adolescence: This syndrome tends to strike those between the ages of 10 and 18. Symptoms include the building of a nest composed of dirty clothes and empty candy wrappers, as well as sudden attacks of deafness when spoken to. (more…)