This week I broke with my usual habit of avoiding television news to watch history in the making. Wednesday, January 6, 2021 was a day of immeasurable shame and disgrace for the United States. The Republican party enabled this horror show over the last four years and is totally responsible. And, just when I was feeling rather sanctimonious about being a retired Canadian baby boomer and safely distanced from what we witnessed on live television, I realized I am not immune. Last night I had a terrifying dream that I was at the movies (remember those days?) enjoying my evening out, buying popcorn at the concession stand (another pleasure no longer available), when I was brutally attacked by a camouflage-outfitted, shape-shifting man who was threatening my life. The tentacles of Wednesday’s spectacle reach deeper into our psyche than we realize. I can’t imagine how the minds of children will process this weeks’ events in the years to come.
We, all of us, need an antidote to life. At a time when we especially need the hugs and companionship of friends and family, we’re deprived. We can’t even sit down with a few friends over a bottle of wine or pot of tea and console each other. The combined effects of American politics and COVID-19 have brought us to the brink and we’re beginning to wonder how much longer we can endure.
Most of us have developed personal coping skills for dealing with life’s difficulties over the years. As boomers, we’ve witnessed our share of grief, disappointments, hurt and even tragedy. It is inevitable. I learned long ago to not waste precious psychic energy worrying about things over which I have no control and I have tried to maintain a positive attitude. It’s a fact that stress weakens our immune system inviting illness and disease, so it’s important to ensure we incorporate generous amounts of laughter into our daily lives.
Sixty years ago, American journalist, author, professor, and world peace advocate Norman Cousins suffered serious health issues that threatened his life. He coped with and managed his diagnosis by subjecting himself to a relentless regimen of laugh therapy. He watched old episodes of Candid Camera and Marx Brothers movies. He read books of humour and researched the biochemistry of human emotions. His symptoms abated and he lived another thirty years until finally passing away in 1990.
It cannot be argued that whenever we are under stress for any reason, laughter can be a marvellous solution to relieving the anxiety. That’s why we always appreciate funny stories about the deceased when we attend a funeral. It relieves the pain and reminds us of the benefits of focusing on the positive. The science of positive thinking and the value of laughter is the basis of current medical studies called psychoneuroimmunology. A simple example of this process is demonstrated every time we smile at someone on the street. They instinctively smile back and we both feel better as a result.
Therefore, I plan to restructure my current ‘groundhog day’ lifestyle of waiting for the horrors to end and replacing it with laughter-inducing activities. Since I cannot congregate for some laughs with my posse of close girlfriends which is always a therapeutic mood-booster, I will start searching for more humorous television shows, books and movies. That’s something I can control and is bound to lift my spirits.
For the next few weeks, I suggest we try to rise above the current crises plaguing our world by resorting to humour. I have a few suggestions on how to do this:
- Read any book by humorist David Sedaris. I’ve just finished his latest release The Best of Me which I will be reviewing here on BoomerBroadcast in the next week or so.
- Stream as many funny movies as you can find. I particularly loved Dumb & Dumber (the original with Jim Carrey) which is total escapism. Or, Trains, Planes and Automobiles, A Fish Called Wanda, Monty Python & The Holy Grail, What About Bob?, and there are sooo many more.
- Play with your pets. Their antics can make us laugh and their love and affection have proven to reduce blood pressure.
- Board games, hobbies and crafts that occupy your mind and distract from everyday life. Painting, knitting, baking, doing puzzles, and reading are all activities that occupy our brains and relieve stress.
- If you’re a fan of British television like I am, re-watch old episodes of Keeping Up Appearances, As Time Goes By, The Vicar of Dibley, Absolutely Fabulous, Morse, or anything that once ran on Masterpiece Theatre.
- Pour a nice cup of tea and tuck into a good mystery. Again, I’m partial to British authors and recommend The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman which I recently finished. Kate Atkinson has some good ones too. For those of us who are missing Florida this winter, pick up any book by Carl Hiaasen. He’s a writer based in Tampa whose humorous stories feature eccentric characters in Florida settings.
- Search out old rom-coms or comedies on television. The Big Bang Theory, Everybody Loves Raymond, and old airings of Saturday Night Live are always sure to give us some chuckles. YouTube or streamed videos of favourite comedians like Canada’s own hilarious Russell Peters are bound to make you laugh. If you’ve never watched Canada’s Baroness von Sketch, now’s the time. Brilliant.
- Restrict watching television news to the absolute minimum. Nothing ever changes and if there’s anything significant you need to know, the news will reach you somehow. At our house, my husband yells it from the other room where he’s glued to the television from his La-Z-Boy command post. It’s my own built-in alert system. He also keeps me informed on how many football games he’ll be watching on a particular day, the current weather and stock market reports.
- Get daily fresh air. I often have to force myself to get outside for a walk and absorb my life-giving dose of sunshine and Vitamin D every day. It’s a chore when it’s cloudy and crappy, but I always feel so much better afterward.
There are so many ways of getting through these difficult times. Turning on the laughter is one method that works. It will boost your immune system and take your mind off the trouble in the world. So, crank up ABBA, The Beatles, or whatever lights your fire and dance around the house or apartment. If you have any suggestions you would like to add to my list, please share them. We’re all desperate for relief. What works for you?
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