In this series, we are learning to take responsibility for our spiritual life by finding ways to make spirituality relevant in 2018. For me spirituality is about relationship and for relationships to be meaningful they must be cultivated like a fine garden. This series has been examining the Eight pillars of Joy in the Book of Joy by the Dali Lama and Desmond Tutu and exploring how to cultivate a meaningful relationship. I am weaving spirituality and psychotherapy together inviting you, the reader to dig deeper by finding meaningful and vibrant ways to connect with the Divine. Today’s third pillar is about laughter and humor. It seems that the Buddhist might have a better handle on humor than the westernized Christian. Most of us have seen the statue of the fat round Buddha is laughing. I don’t think there is any Christian art of Jesus laughing. I, too, admit humor comes hard for me. I live in a world of serious issues as a psychologist.
So, let’s take a look at how to create humor in our serious lives. The first place to start is to pay attention to what makes you smile. Each evening list the events of your day that made you smile today. Do this each evening and watch the list grow as the days go by. The list grows because you are training yourself to pay attention to the things in your life that give you pleasure. By focusing on the positive we automatically create more positivity. The hard work is training the brain to look for the positive and to seek out the humor. Once we train ourselves to focus on what makes us smile, then we can begin to find humor in the ordinary events of our daily life. Becoming an observer of how you shower, eat, and dress can provide you with material to make you laugh. Have you ever wondered why you do some of the things you do? Begin to celebrate your quirks. So what if you won’t eat the tomato on the sandwich? Just remove it, smile and go on about your day. Don’t throw a fit because the waiter forgot to say, “no tomato.” Lighten up. Enjoy the moment.
So what if someone cuts in front of you at the grocery store or on the freeway? Bless them with this little Buddhist prayer, “May you experience happiness and the root of happiness.” Be a person who is quick to move on and not get stuck in the “what-ifs” or awfulness of life. Yes, it is awful some of the time and sometimes more awful than other times. Living in the awfulness is just no fun and does nothing to help you enjoy the present moment. Life is what you make it and learning to laugh more of each twenty-four hour period will be good for your health, your attitude, and the quality of your life. Lighten up about the things you worry about. Focus on the positive moment of the now.
How do you do this when something serious is going on in your life, such as chronic pain, the loss of a loved one or a chronic disease? Here are few starters:
First, realize we all have something at many points in our life.
Second, focus on what is going right or could go right rather than what could go wrong.
Third, ask yourself, “What are the things I still enjoy despite this current difficult situation?”
Helping yourself move toward acceptance of what is rather than what you want to be different, opens space to enjoy what is. Without acceptance there is no laughter. Without laughter there is no joy. Without joy you become more negative, angry, and disappointed with the life you have. As you follow the negativity down the rabbit hole you become trapped in the darkness of our depression and waste valuable time. Learn to enjoy what you can and let go of the rest. If the thought is not helping you move toward joy then re-think your thought. For instance, if you suffer from chronic pain, learn self-talk that changes your thought like this: “I can’t enjoy the family outing because of my back pain,” to this “It will be good to see everybody even though I won’t stay as long because of my pain.” Then let the brain imagine who you get to see; how you want to catch up; and what if anything you need to bring to make yourself more comfortable. Training your brain to think differently is a life- long process and each day we are given many opportunities to change things around. Actively pursuing opportunities that will make you smile, laugh-out-loud, and giggle will help your enjoyment factor go up. If you enjoy more of your day then it is easier to look around and ask “where was the Divine in my life today?”
Learn the freedom of “so-what?” It will be helpful to make those two words your mantra during this practice of finding humor in your day. “So what” is a magical question that takes the pressure off of you and allows you to lighten-up. Now, go about your day and discover the humor of being alive in this amazing time you are living in. Enjoy
Two Workshops to Register For Right Now:
Dr. Sikora’s All Day Workshop in October will also be an event you don’t want to miss! Check this out and give yourself the whole day to explore your spirituality!