Real laughter has always been something that I seem to struggle with. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard I almost cried…or had such a deep laugh that my belly hurt. I grew up in a house where there wasn’t much laughter and feel like I didn’t learn this behavior. Any thoughts or suggestions?
I get messages like this one more often than you might expect. Many, many people have been raised without humor and laughter playing an important role during their formative years. There’s a number of reasons why this can happen. Different cultures, and different families, place a different premium on the value of laughter.
An article by Helen Dennis provides a great example:
“My parents were immigrants. Work was a way of life in order to make it in America. To waste time was almost sinful. Play was an indulgence that was not acknowledged and never rewarded. My parents did not have time for it. It is still difficult to divorce myself from these childhood values. My sister continues to ask me if I had a productive day, rather than asking if I had any fun.”
One thing we have learned over the years is that humor and play actually have significant value. They’re good for us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The ability to laugh and have fun makes us feel better – and we enjoy better physical health as a result!
In What’s So Funny About Diabetes?: A Creative Approach to Coping with Your Disease I share many ways you can increase the amount of humor and laughter in your life. You can use these techniques even if you’ve grown up without the experience of humor. Some of them may feel a little strange at first, but you’ll find that practice makes it easier.
Make a play list of at least 20 things you find fun to do, and keep it handy. Half of the items should be little to no cost. The next time you feel down or “icky”, pull out your list and do at least one item on the list–you will feel better.