I got the idea for this column after a bad dream last night. I don’t remember what it was about—it involved monsters, no bad omens—but I awoke at 3:15 a.m.
Walking to the bathroom to splash my face with water, I was shocked by the shaft of golden light streaming through the open door. Silhouetted in it was the long shadow of something watching me. And, and—
I screamed. Then I realized the horror was a fluffy, adorable, 3-month-old kitten. Who wanted to snuggle, despite the hour. That’s right: The Kitten of Doom scared a grown woman. I’m still laughing at myself.
But this morning, I wonder how many crises would be lessened if we took a step back and laughed at them. That’s one reason I make watching comedy part of my day, often while I work out or do laundry.
Laughing at a situation means you’re in control, that you’re strong enough to minimize the situation with joking. OK, the situation might not be comedic—who really feels like cracking jokes after a spouse dies?—but you can remember funny times you had with the deceased. Or you can tease your children at some silly thing they’ve done.
Children are natural comics, but sometimes I get so absorbed in work that I only smile at their antics, not join in. When I do join in, my mood gets boosted, and I think they’re happier and more secure because Mom is lighthearted.
If you’re facing crises, start toward adopting a more optimistic attitude, maybe by subscribing to a joke of the day service on the Web. Seek out happy people; listen to happy music.
Sometimes I wonder if Americans think all their circumstances must be right to be happy: They must have a big house or car, great job, et cetera. Nothing is wrong with striving toward those, but you needn’t depend on outside conditions to feel good inside. You’re in control; you can make yourself happy now, even if only for a few seconds.