“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.” – Kurt Vonnegut
It is only day 5 of the Positivity Quest and I am already struggling to find the light. Admittedly living here in the gloomy northwest winter doesn’t help. Daylight is no more than a soft gray and doesn’t last long at this time of year. I know I shouldn’t be complaining as just a week ago I was still enjoying the bright warm sun in Hawaii. But I think that sometimes deep exposure to light actually makes its absence more acute. My son asked me this morning as we woke to no real dawn to speak of, if I had ever heard of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which pretty much everyone who lives in the Northwest suffers to some degree. He said, “I think I have it.”
A close companion to darkness is fatigue. Having a tired mind is different than the tiredness of physical activity. It is the kind of exhaustion that seems to breed nervous energy and anxiety. I think I am not alone, going along fine and then suddenly, my brain doesn’t just go slower, it opens the gates wide to any negative thought that comes along. My mind seems to go out of its way to dig them up, manufactured from both all my unnamed fears and old grievances. Really it would be better to just put my head down and close my eyes as there isn’t really any pushing through. There is just this wicked slippery slope that can turn small things into big ones.
I have never been very good at making myself laugh although after studying its affects on both good and bad situations, it is a skill that I really want to develop. It was Norman Cousins’ book, Anatomy of Illness that first generated real interest in the healing power of laughter. Not only does it increase immune functioning, reduce stress , fear and chronic pain but it also does wonders on giving life a true perspective and boosting our ability to create. I read about this woman who decided she must make herself laugh three times per day and it literally changed her whole life.
One song from Mary Poppins that has always had the power to make me laugh is “I Love to Laugh” which thanks to YouTube is available anytime that darkness or fatigue gets a hold of me. I just watched it and feel better already. The wisdom from day 5- either take a nap or have a laugh.