Sunday 27 May 2012

"Laughter is The Best Medicine"

"Children laugh an average of 300 times or more a day. Adults laugh an average of 17 times a day. We have a lot of catching up to do." ~ Heather King

Did you laugh today? Did something, anything, make you happy or bring you joy? I have posed this question to you before but I think it's worth repeating:

Can you recognize what makes you truly happy?

As someone who has fought numerous battles with depression over the last two decades I really try to not take happiness for granted. In fact, I seek it out these days. When you are without joy, when life feels almost too difficult to bear, you sometimes can't remember what it feels like to smile let alone feel actual happiness. In fact, there were times during my own illnesses when I felt fairly certain that I would never recover.

Two things played a huge part in my eventual recovery: the ability to find pleasure in the small moments in life and the ability to warm my heart through laughter.

One of the best pieces of advice that I ever received over the years in regard to my illness was to stay in the moment. This came from the first psychologist that I worked with. What she mostly meant was to not let my "head" get ahead of me, to stop worrying about things that hadn't happened yet or would likely never happen at all. I tried it. It was hard at first but as I became more conscious of my thoughts, especially the ones that weren't healthy or conducive to my recovery, it got much easier. A side effect of staying in the moment was that I rediscovered the joy in those moments. Have you ever noticed that when you gulp down a coffee while you hurry to get to a meeting or to the office it doesn't taste as good as when you drink it slowly from your favourite mug by a sunny window? Oh, and preferably in your jammies!

As I fought through my last depressive episode in the spring and summer of 2011 I also relied on humour to help me through. As someone who suffers from mental illness I am always fairly cautious of what I feed my brain. For example, I still have not seem Schindler's List because I know that it would be too much for me. But comedies? That's another story altogether. Some movies that helped me through some hard times last year were Horrible Bosses & Bridesmaids. The ridiculousness and hilarity of both of these movies was a big dose of what I needed - pure joy, laughter until the tears rolled down my face, and cheeks that hurt from smiling! When I realized that I still had some laughter & smiles in me, I knew I would be OK.

Lots of things made me happy this weekend. Watching my nephew play baseball, giggling with my niece, dinner with my dad, a big hug from my mom, and scratching Maggie the dog's tummy! But you know what? I didn't laugh anywhere near the 300 times that the average child laughs. So here's my new goal: add more laughter to my life. I am not 100% certain how I will do this but I will. So if you see me at work or on the street or want to post a suggestion or tip on this blog, please do! All silly jokes welcome! Maybe together we can get from 17 to 25? It's a start...

KB xo

P.S. Someone who ALWAYS makes me laugh is Jimmy Fallon. Enjoy!

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