During my most difficult challenges, I have found true solace in humor. Six years ago, I was in terrible pain. My L5 abruptly protruded from my lower spine and I was instantaneously immobilized. For four months, I was on bedrest. I could limp from my bed to the fridge or to the bathroom, then back again, but that was it. I spent hours trying to manage the pain by reading, but truth be told, I couldn’t focus and I ended up gazing at the ceiling, wishing for relief.
In addition, I was unable to dress my children, feed my children or actively comfort them when they needed me. I was unable to walk my daughter to class on her first day of kindergarten. It was torture.
So, after a few weeks of emotional and physical pain, a friend suggested that I watch a funny TV show to ease my mind and lighten my load. With a simple online search, I settled on The Office, doubtful that I would experience any relief. How wrong I was! Having never seen the show, I had no idea what I was in for; eight seasons of pure comedy bliss. When watching Michael Scott, Dwight, Jim and Pam, I became completely absorbed in the world of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Laughing at the awkward or ridiculous antics, like when Jim put Dwight’s stapler in Jello, gave me a true sense of both physical and emotional comfort. It felt like my pain receptors had been temporarily rerouted while watching the show. I felt relaxed and joyful, and for each episode, I was miraculously free of pain.
Which got me wondering, is laughter really the best medicine?
After much reflection on the topic, I now strongly believe that yes, laughter not only heals us, but lifts our spirits and brings us closer to each other. When I was a preschool teacher, the most successful lessons always incorporated humor. Laughter helps us retain information and brings cohesion to a classroom. Silly songs or humorous children’s books keep the tone light and helps students feel at ease while learning. Happiness breeds success, not the other way around. What better way to feel happy than to laugh?
With this theory in mind, I decided to start a family humor journal titled, “Familiar Quotations By Greta and Bridget”. Every time my daughters said something funny, I wrote it down, word for word. At first, this journal was a secret. I would covertly and quickly scrawl phrases in the book, hidden away from my children’s line of vision. Then, once the journal was discovered, and the girls were old enough, I began sharing its contents with them over dinner. That’s when the girls joined in on the fun, giggling over funny comments they had made in early childhood.
Over the years, my family has revisited reading this journal many times over. When family or beloved guests came over for dinner, pre-COVID times of course, my daughters would take turns reading silly quotes and our table full of friends and family would smile, chuckle and at times roar with laughter.
Here are a few classic snippets.
“Do elves have boogers?”
“You know what, Momma? I killed it today in circle time.”
Me: When was the last time you saw your shoes?
Daughter: Like 2,000 years ago. Wait, that can’t be right. That’s when the dinosaurs were alive.
“Does Santa have to go through customs?”
“I don’t want to go in the ocean because of sharks and bears.”
“Mommy, after I die, my spirit will fly into another mommy’s tummy. When she eats an egg, then I’ll get born.”
Daughter: When do we get to go to Texas?
Husband: What’s in Texas?
Daughter: The Eiffel Tower!
“Is Christmas a religion or a commercial?”
See? Don’t you feel a little better already? Humor helps us not take ourselves too seriously and helps relieve pent up tension. Specifically, in my case, humor helped me recover from spinal pain, teach my students effectively and bond with my family and loved ones. So, take my word on it,
Now, if you’re like me, and have never watched this show, do yourself a favor and watch at least three episodes and you will be hooked.