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How to Laugh During the Tough Times

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How to Laugh During the Tough Times

Loretta LaRoche
Loretta LaRoche More by this author
Nov 10, 2010 at 02:45 AM 0 comments

Whenever I give a lecture or a workshop, I encourage participants to read Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. He was a psychiatrist who survived the Nazi concentration camps during World War II and who developed a form of psychotherapy called Logotherapy. His book profoundly shows how individuals can survive the most horrific of situations through grace, dignity and even humor. In the preface of the book, Gordon Allport writes: “Hunger, humiliation, fear, and deep anger at injustice are rendered tolerable by closely guarded images of beloved persons, by religion, by a grim sense of humor, and even by glimpses of the healing beauties of nature—a tree or a sunset.”

I’ve heard many accounts of how this type of humor, called “gallows humor,” has helped many people in difficult jobs, particularly health-care professionals. Anyone overhearing some of the conversations between nurses or doctors might be deeply offended. But for them it becomes a way to get relief from the horrors they witness.

As a child, I was dragged to many an Italian funeral, which often resembled a Federico Fellini movie. There was great drama as the black-clad women wailed and moaned. Then there’d be bursts of laughter as people began to recount stories about the dearly departed. And, of course it would all end with a giant buffet. It was then that I realized love, laughter, and lasagna made life worthwhile!

I often hear individuals talk about how little they laugh because of how complicated their lives have become. As a culture, we’ve forgotten that we are not simply here to get through the day as if it were a forced march. When humor is absent from our lives for an extended period of time, it can lead to depression, anxiety, anger and irritability. When we lose the ability to laugh at ourselves, we become less kind and tolerant of others behavior.

Lighten Up Your Week:

This week, give your laughter muscles a good workout every day so that when you really need them, they are buffed and ready to go. As Frankl says, “That humor was the soul’s preservation.” Keep that in mind the next time you’re making a mountain out of a mole hill.

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