I have this cousin – Bill Poe is his name. Well. He’s not really my cousin but we pretend we are – it’s a long story which I won’t go into here because I can’t wait to share a brilliant prescription he gave me this week – ostensibly to be used in annoying moments – but I’m finding it has multiple applications.
The secret he revealed is a sure-fire way to defuse those tense, anxious moments which threaten to bring us down. It’s worked for me this week in the following situations: when I discovered my hot water heater is leaking and the floor seems a little squishy; when I came home from the newspaper paper office dog-tired then discovered we had a hole in the front page the size of Arizona to be filled with news that hadn’t happened yet; and there’s that nagging voice in my head that sounds like Ruth Daniel, my CPA, reminding me time is running out to get my taxes together.
I could go on and on, but we all have those little irritants that muddy up an otherwise wonderful day. Well, hold on to your hats, folks. Those days will not be muddied again if you follow a few simple instructions which Bill has perfected.
It all started this week when I was sitting in my office at the Daily News ranting to a co-worker about the annoying practice of some businesses and government agencies replacing their numeric phone numbers with a cutsy combination of letters designed to be memorable I guess. It forces you to translate the letters on the key pad to the phone number which gets on my last nerve. After 13 misdials you get a recording offering 18 options, and not one of them is a live person. i was steamed. Give us the friggin number for heaven’s sake.
Just when I had worked myself into the stroke zone Cousin Bill waltzed in and sat down to observe my tirade. He didn’t say a word. Just looked at me weirdly for a moment then broke out into an evil laughter that sounded like “muahahahahaha”. I stared at him in confusion as the laughter grew more intense.
Wait! Was a smile forcing it way through my pursed lips! Was there a small rumble of laughter building in my chest and bubbling upward? Within seconds, we were laughing so hard the rest of the staff was peering around the doorway to see if it was time to call for help. The harder and louder Bill laughed, the more determined I was to keep pace. The magic of the moment was that what began as completely forced laughter had mysteriously evolved into the real thing.
After about five minutes of this, exhausted and completely laughed out, we paused to try to figure out what just happened. “Feel better?” he asked. “Oh yeah,” I responded, trying to suppress the remains of one last giggle.
Then he told me a story. Several years ago his family took a cruise to Nova Scotia. On the ship was an entertainer named David Naster, author of a book entitled “You Just Have to LAUGH Through Hard Times,”.
“The first thing he did was to instruct the audience to ‘turn to your right, look the person in the face and start laughing’,” said Bill. “Awkward at first, moments later, the house was roaring in laughter.
“’Now’”, Naster says, “’don’t you feel more relaxed?’”
After the cruise Bill said he will often call his family members to have a good laugh whether or not anything is particularly funny.
I can’t wait to try this out at the next meeting I’m attending. Laughter is one of the most contagious activities I can think of and I challenge you to be a carrier.