Archive for August, 2017

When is it OK to Laugh?

August 30, 2017

Sometimes, when a crisis occurs; even if it doesn’t touch us personally, we lose our desire and even our ability to laugh. With the horror of terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and unkindness rolling out before our eyes via broadcasts and social media outlets, it seems unthinkable and disrespectful to find anything funny. That’s the way we sometimes feel but in reality, laughter is a valuable survival tool.

Obviously, our psychological recovery from a disaster depends on how close we are to it …physically and emotionally and of course, time is also a factor. After every disastrous event, we see heroes appear on the scene, in the form of first responders and also regular people coming to the aid of victims; working together to help put the world back together again. We feel helpless and shaken as we watch the events unfold and eventually, as there begins to be some distance from the horror, the stress lessens and we begin to laugh again. Then we can begin to heal.

Laughter is a release of emotions that we need to express but aren’t sure how to do it. We sometimes feel guilty for laughing in times of trouble, but it’s important to realize that we aren’t laughing at the event; we are detaching from the fear and anger we have been feeling. Laughter is an emotional catharsis and is necessary for keeping us from falling into the pit of negativity; it is our link to sanity.

We should never feel guilty for finding a thread of relief through laughter, as a matter of fact, we should embrace it. People who have been in the most terrifying and unimaginable situations will often share stories of how they tried to find a little humor in their dismal experiences in order to keep themselves from breaking down completely.

Victor Frankl, a concentration camp survivor wrote, “What helps people survive awful circumstances is their ability to detach and get beyond themselves. This is seen in heroism and humor.”

During the Vietnam War, Gerald Coffee was shot down and imprisoned in the “Hanoi Hilton” for over seven years. He explained that “Laughter sets the spirit free to move through even the most tragic circumstances. It helps us shake our heads clear, get our feet back under us and restore our sense of balance and purpose. Humor is integral to our peace of mind and ability to go beyond survival.”

Laughter and tears are closely related; they are two sides of the same coin. It is much like a snake eating its own tail…we cry until we laugh and we laugh until we cry.

Some of the most famous comedy teams emerged from the time of the Great Depression and WWII. Why? Because the nation needed some relief; we needed to laugh. Many of the stories portrayed on M*A*S*H were based on stories told by actual surgeons who used humor to escape the horror of their experiences in Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals during the Korean War.

Laughter is a gift. In times of stress, it is a pressure valve which allows us to maintain an even keel. It saves lives and it allows us to step back for a moment and perhaps even find a little peace and hope. And speaking of hope, here is a quote from Bob Hope on the subject:

“I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform the most unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful.”

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What the Heck Can I Do?

August 17, 2017

My heart hurts for what is happening in the world as hatred continues to rear its ugly head. I talk a lot about kindness; I teach it in my workshops. But sometimes, I find myself wondering how being kind can make a difference when terrorists and people with hate in their hearts are causing such horror in all parts of the world. Then I remember that there are many more people on the earth who are kind and compassionate than there are those who want to spread ugliness and hatred. But because of their despicable deeds, the bad guys are the ones who seem to garner the most attention.

We receive daily reports about manifestations of violence and anger which cause us to sometimes be on edge, and perhaps a little snarkier than normal. I have decided that the best thing I can do is to try to make things better in my little corner of the world by spreading kindness and refusing to honor hatred.

Here is what I know about hatred: it stems from fear. Those who hate are hesitant to let go of it because they are afraid of dealing with the pain that is the root of their hatred.

I believe that hateful acts say everything about the hater and nothing about the targets of their hatred. People who deal in unkindness are projecting feelings they have about themselves.

Here is what I know about kindness: it doesn’t make you weak and it doesn’t make you a doormat. It doesn’t mean that you don’t stand up for what you believe is right. Kindness gives you strength and treating others with compassion pays big dividends…it gives joy to both the receiver and the giver.

We all know that being kind is a choice, but it is also something innate; we are born with it. When we perform acts of kindness, we are being true to our nature. Not so with hatred and prejudice. I’m not a psychologist, so I don’t know what happens in someone’s life to cause hatred to take root and grow. Maybe it is abuse or trauma. Perhaps they have been taught to fear those who are different. Possibly they feel that something will be taken from them. All I know is that they are somehow broken.

We cannot fix hatred in other people…that is up to them to fix. But we can rise above it and refuse to let the flames of hatred consume us. We can stand up against cruelty, bullying, and vitriolic rhetoric. And we can model kindness because it is one of the best tools in our fight against the dark side. Even if your kind act seems like a small thing, remember that one candle can light the darkness.

 

 

I’d love to work with you and your organization. Check out my website at http://www.lindahenley-smith.com and then e-mail me at laughlady1950@gmail.com

Perfection is a Moving Target

August 9, 2017

One of my recent books is titled “Slightly Irregular Underwear” with the subtitle “Sometimes Imperfections Can Be Perfect.” The idea popped into my head on the day I was shopping and came upon a display of underwear just piled up on a table under a sign that read SLIGHTLY IRREGULAR. Intrigued by the possibilities of irregular underwear, I shuffled through the pile, wondering if I would find bras with three cups or panties with sleeves. I was surprised to find seemingly normal underwear with no distinguishing characteristics.

I asked the sales person to explain to me the meaning of the description and she said that this was underwear that had hidden flaws, but no one was really sure just what they were. All she knew was that the factory had labeled them slightly irregular, so the store marked them at half price and set them out on a table. I inquired as to whether one had to be slightly irregular to fit into them, and she said she didn’t think so, therefore, I purchased five pair of slightly irregulars, wondering if the irregularity was that they would self destruct after being worn for three hours.

Happily, I have worn my slightly irregulars and all is well. Whatever imperfections they possess have not been noticeable to me. The point of this is that we sometimes plan for ourselves, a life that is perfect. There is certainly nothing wrong with shooting for perfection, as long as we understand that perfection very rarely happens. In reality, our lives are usually slightly irregular and when they are, we tend to discount the value of the imperfections. We focus on what’s wrong and mistakenly assume that everyone else is focusing on the imperfections, as well. We label ourselves as a failure or lock in on what we did wrong, rather than what we did that was right. We discount our not-so-perfect experiences and cast them off as useless.

Am I extracting a life lesson from my underwear? Well, yes I am! When things don’t go as planned, how often we throw up our hands and proclaim our failures as worthless. We discount our not so perfect experiences…our slightly irregulars…and think of them as inferior or useless.

What I have learned over the years is that perfection is a moving target! Also, sometimes in hindsight, it is difficult to distinguish between the good days and the bad days. I guess it’s because I actually have derived more benefit from my imperfect experiences. My slightly irregular days have been the ones that have caused me to reevaluate my goals, put things into proper perspective, and reaffirm that I will live through failures and disappointments.

We need to learn that one of the best things we can do for ourselves is to set goals and strive for success, but one of the most harmful things we can do is to feel a sense of failure if we fall short of those goals. In striving for perfections, we learn to accept and even embrace our imperfections.

So ends my “life is like slightly irregular underwear” story. I hope it makes sense to you. I leave this topic with one final thought…while it’s always nice to have lingerie from Victoria’s Secret, we can also benefit from slightly irregulars. And besides, it just may be that Victoria’s secret is that she is slightly irregular.

I would love to work with you or your organization.

Contact me at linda@lindahenley-smith.com