What do you do on gray days to lift your mood and attitude? Are chocolate or cookies calling to you? Rather than consuming empty calories, try feeding yourself some comedy.
Some people save favorite recipes; you can create a file of comedy favorites for a diet of sure-fire fun. And just like eating good food keeps us healthy, the science is clear: Laughter is good medicine. It relieves stress, reduces blood pressure, and is a natural pain reliever. Did you know that the two universal, automatic responses to something we find funny are doubling over at the waist (that’s why it’s called a belly laugh) and slapping the table or one’s knees (“a real knee-slapper”)? If you haven’t done either in a while, you’re overdue.
Here are four steps to assure you’ll always have a daily diet of healthy humor.
- Know what makes you laugh. What, or who, makes you double over, or at least grin? If you aren’t sure, take this online quiz to find out what comedy style you fall into: whats-your-humor-style
- Create a comedy cache. Save links from funny YouTube videos in a favorites file. Build a list of movies, TV shows, and Comedy Central specials that make you laugh. Check out books of limericks or puns from the library and rediscover comedy writers like Erma Bombeck and Dave Barry.
- Involve others! Social engagement is the number one way to improve health as we age. So get tickets for two to a comedy club, or go to a petting zoo (funny things happen when children and animals mix). Combine people with laughing and you win every time. And the more you share laughs with others, the more they’ll share things they find funny.
- Begin your diet now. Plan episodes of absurdity by carving out time every day. I start my day with a full plate of farce for 30 minutes, which sets my mood. In the evening, I erase the day’s troubles by spending another half-hour on a fat-free dessert of hilarity.
Here are some recommendations for a quick pick-me-up.
Tried-and-true TV shows Golden Girls, America’s Funniest Home Videos, Blackish, Ellen DeGeneres, Fresh Off the Boat, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Steve Harvey, Life in Pieces, Modern Family
Funny movies (Find them at your local library, on cable TV, Netflix, or Amazon Prime Video) Grumpy Old Men, The Incredibles, A Night at the Opera, Toy Story, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Grumpier Old Men, Bringing Up Baby, About a Boy, Some Like It Hot
Instagram #funnycats, #funnydogstuff, #goatsofinstagram, #funnyparrots
YouTube Search for The Marx Brothers, Carol Burnett, Steve Martin, Monty Python
Newer comedians to check out Amber Ruffin, Jim Gaffigan, Aziz Ansari
Don’t forget to pick up the phone Do you have a good friend who makes you laugh? Then make a point to see them more often. Does reminiscing with a sibling over childhood capers tickle you? Give them a call. Friends and family are often the best medicine.
My dad used to say, “If you can laugh through it, you can live through it.” And I’ve never heard anyone say they wish they’d spent less time laughing.
Dori Gillam is a speaker and writer on positive aging. She’s worked for Sound Generations (a local non-profit serving older adults) and AARP. She is a speaker for Humanities Washington, facilitates Wisdom Cafes throughout King County, and is a member of the Age Friendly Seattle Task Force.