Writing The Humor

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I never believed how beneficial to my health laughter was until tragedy hit my family. Then, laughter kept me from orbiting into the land of oblivion. Laughter never sounded so sweet. In the midst of sorrow, a good cry is expected, but a hearty laugh can keep us afloat. We’ve all heard the proverb, “laughter doeth good like a medicine” (notably a good-tasting kind) and writing the humor of life gives a double dose of the good tasting stuff.

Inevitably some will scratch their heads and wonder how humor writing can be something to consider when the pain of sorrow from a loss is so consuming. People not in tragedy, envision those in pain only able to cry and soak up tissues. They are correct; while loss of a loved one, a divorce or an illness do produce countless tears, being able to laugh and record the humor are therapeutic to healing.

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I married my husband for his humor. While some marry for money or that house on the beach, I was drawn to this man’s ability to create an atmosphere of laughter. After the painful death of our four-year-old son, Daniel, we needed humor like a buffer from the agonizing wounds in our hearts. We learned to laugh together instead of continuously growing angry at the silly things people (albeit with good intentions) said to us. And although we are not ready for stand-up comedy yet, our humor has helped to save our marriage.

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“Just laughing at something relaxes people and makes them forget their troubles for a few minutes,” claims Pauline Russell of Duke University Medical Center. ” Laughing provides a moment of refreshment. The stimulation you get after a hearty laugh is helpful.” Journalist Peggy O’Farrell states that among laughter’s benefits are the “…reduction of stress hormones, including cortisol, which in turn enhances the immune, cardiovascular and even digestive systems.” She adds that findings have led researchers to conclude that laughter should be part of a daily health routine ? just like exercise and healthy eating.

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How do you see the humor life has to offer? First you have to look for the humor in everyday living. Put on your humor antenna so that you will pick up on the humor that is all around you. It’s there.

It was there just the other night at my house. My husband and beagle puppy were seated in front of the TV watching the Super Bowl. I was in the middle of writing an informative paragraph to an editor about my own ezine, Tributes. I included how my ezine has been an instrumental tool for me on this journey of grief and how reaching fellow bereaved parents through it helps with my own healing. In the midst of editing my paragraph, my 11-year-old daughter ran out onto our newly-built deck with the brand new furniture. A few seconds later she announced she had thrown up. “On the deck?” I yelled from my post at the computer. I went to take a look as our beagle puppy raced out and started to lick the mass of vomit which spread over the deck floor. When I saw she’d also thrown up on the new glider’s custom-made cushions, I screamed, “How could you throw up there too?”

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“After the game ends, I’ll clean it up,” my husband said from his chair.

“No,” I cried. “It’ll be frozen by then. I’ll do it.”

We both cleaned up. I, on my hands and knees mopped up the mess with paper towels and rags. In the back yard, he hosed down the green-and-purple-flowered cushions and then scrubbed them with a soapy brush. He fussed about the hose and I fussed that he was placing the cushions in the dog’s play area and that doggy poop on the cushions would be as bad as the vomit so to be careful. We yelled
back and forth into the night.

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After the clean-up, I went back to the computer and read my nice and touching note, ready to send to the editor. Here I was posing as this sweet bereaved mother when I had just yelled at my daughter and husband over vomit on deck furniture. Laughing, I entered what had just happened in my journal. It is a keepsake, a humor journal. I carry mine with me for the purpose of recording the funny aspects of life that might go unnoticed if I weren’t in the frame of mind to be on the look-out for them.

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Some may think what you find funny to write about isn’t funny, but that’s not important. As long as your humor provides laughter for you, that is what counts and that is what you can record in your journal. Be on the humor alert in public places like restaurants and airports. I recorded this conversation while seated at a small Mid-western airport last summer. I was seated across from two couples discussing their
pastor and so had to act a bit sly, not letting on that I was recording their every amusing word.
“He’s dressing in khakis and leaving the pin stripes at home.” “He’s gotten better on his sermons.”

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During the season of the Bill Clinton Impeachment, a friend and I were at a restaurant when we overheard a woman stating to her dinner date, “You know I love my president. I just love my president. Now I don’t like what he has done. But you know I love my president.”

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The whole restaurant seemed quiet, obviously listening as this woman vocalized her passionate feelings.

Venture out on a humor search by looking for bumper stickers, signs, billboards and even misspellings. Write the funny ones down and keep a collection of these to read aloud at least once a month. By doing so, you are creati
ng your own joke book. One hectic day, in the van with my three bickering children, I smiled for miles after I saw the personalized license plate on the bright red convertible: “Midlife.”

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As a family, record funny things and place them on slips of paper. Put them in a jar (label it your “barrel of laughs”) and take one out, one each night or once a week. You won’t forget the family jokes and will use them to bring you closer to each member as the years go by.

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If you haven’t already, recall the funny memories of loved ones who have gone on and add them to your humor journal. Early every weekday morning in the hospital Daniel and I would awaken to a man outside the room door singing, “Newspaper, newspaper.” I would reply, “No, thank you” to which the newspaper salesman would automatically chirp, “Have a nice day.” It became Daniel’s and my joke. All we’d have to say to each other and then break into laughter was, “Newspaper, newspaper. Have a nice day.” That journal entry always gives my heart a refreshing workout.

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Humor is everywhere. Learn to look for it, capture it in the pages of your journal, laugh and watch your health improve and your heart heal.

Humor web sites to visit:
World Laughter Tour http://www.worldlaughtertour.com
Humor University http://www.humoru.com

Alice J. Wisler would be insane without the ability to
laugh at herself and others. Alice speaks at conferences
on writing the heartache and self-esteem, is the author of two cookbooks – Down the Cereal Aisle and Slices of Sunlight, and founded Daniel’s House Publications in her son’s memory. She dreams of being a stand-up comic. Visit her web site:

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