I discovered an interesting way to overcome negative feelings!
I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder a few years back and went on medication for awhile because my anxiety was getting to the point where I wasn’t functioning very well. The non-scary things in my life were starting to scare me, like: my neighbor’s poodle, Girl Scout cookies, and, sometimes, adverbs; so it was time for me to get on the happy pills, or do yoga, but I don’t think I could stand on my head with my foot in my ear.
Today, I feel a lot better; I’ve had some breakthroughs in my health, and I’ve been learning to trust God more and my negative feelings less. But I still get bouts of anxiety now and again. I will worry about my kids behavior, my basement flooding, my kids flooding my basement, etc. But, like I mentioned earlier, I’ve been doing something the last few days that has really been helping me feel better — without the help of medication, chanting, or do-it-yourself lobotomies. What is it?
That’s right, when the anxiety presses in, I push myself to let out a little laugh. Now, don’t get me wrong; I don’t blast out a random “HA!” when I’m checking in for jury duty (although it might help me get out of it). But as loudly as I can without attracting the attention of strangers, I try to laugh. Granted, it creeps out my kids a little bit, but I think that one should keep one’s kids guessing at his state of sanity anyway; it keeps them in line and it’s a lot of fun.
So, is my laughing helping with my negative emotions? Yes!
I instantly feel a little better. Why? Well, I’m not entirely sure. I think it might be because the laughter interrupts the mental pattern that I’ve set up in my head where I get a nervous feeling, dwell on it for a few minutes, panic for several seconds, eat a cookie, and then return to my day. So, instead of stewing about anxiety, I laugh and it’s over. How about that?
Now, you might be thinking, “I might want to try that for myself, but I don’t tell jokes for a living Daren, and as an adult, I can’t just laugh willy-nilly; I need a reason!” Really? Have you ever been in the room with someone who had “the giggles?” You have no idea why this person is laughing; it’s weird; it’s annoying; it’s random — but totally contagious! Sometimes it’s impossible not to join in without any reason, and it feels really good!
When I was a kid, my sisters and I used to get a bad case of the giggles during the sermon at church; not only was it inappropriate to laugh during a sermon entitled “The Seven Deadly Sins and You,” but also my dad had a bad habit of skipping breakfast before church; his stomach sounded like he was speed-draining an Olympic-sized swimming pool through a plastic straw. I’m not sure how, but Dad could never actually hear the screaming and wailing his stomach was doing, so he would get angry at his flippant children and their attitude towards the serious sermon, which only made our laughter worse! It was in times like this I discovered that my stomach could cramp so violently that it would twist together with my undergarments, and I could give myself an impressive “look-no-hands” wedgie.
There’s is almost always something funny to find in every situation, if you look for it; you don’t always need to find the funny thing first; you can laugh and find the funny thing later. Sometimes just the act of laughing in a tough situation is ridiculous enough to make you feel silly, and laugh some more.
For most people, myself included, laughing isn’t really a reflex to pain, so you have to train yourself to do it effectively (and appropriately), but I have found it is worth the effort. Not only do you feel better, but laughter is often the first step towards healing.
So, I challenge you, for the next couple of days, when things get tough, stop what you are doing and laugh!
Laugh because it interrupts the pain.
Laugh because it’s going to be okay.
Laugh because your emotions are being so predictable right now.
Laugh because of the look that’s on your face right now.
Laugh because you feel awkward.
Laugh because you don’t have all the answers.
Laugh because you are human like everyone else.
Laugh because it feels really good.
Laugh, because, ultimately, if you have faith, you already know that all this pain is going to work together for your good. The joke is on the pain — not you.
Let me know how it goes in the comments!
“She laughs at the days to come.”