Strategy 3 To Cheer Myself Up and Stay Positive–Smiling, Laughing, Comedy


This is what I think of when I hear the Spanish word for smile. Una sonrisa sounds like ‘sunrise,’ a beautiful golden sunrise over a dry, barren landscape, but it means ‘a smile’.

When I’m going through a very rough time, I’ll notice that it becomes hard to smile. I start making especially sarcastic jokes and biting comments, without smiling. My humor is pretty dry already. People around me start to look confused because they don’t know if I’m joking or not. Maybe people don’t think it’s funny but feel the cue to laugh. Either way, I’m not very funny. And even I don’t think things I say are very funny. My comments will be on the end of the funny spectrum reserved for veiled complaints and open criticism.

Humor is supposed to be a defense and relief from tense situations. You’re not supposed to use it to feed your rage and bitterness. That makes you brittle. I had to ask myself after I made a “joke” if my intention really was to be funny or to complain or criticize. If I wasn’t trying to be funny, then I tried to keep those comments to myself. I got quite a bit quieter for a while.

In addition, I try to avoid things that make me feel sad, including TV shows, topics of conversation, and plain, old thoughts of my own. I try to be sensitive to the feelings of others, so I don’t ask people to stop talking about something sad if it seems like they need to talk about it or if my listening can help. But there is no reason to dwell on overly-sad or serious topics unless there’s something being accomplished even when you’re an overly-serious chick like myself.

So, I started watching and listening to stand-up comedy. I listen on Pandora, where they’ll introduce you to comedians similar to the ones you thumbs-up. I found a lot of new-to-me comedians that I really enjoyed. Laughing and smiling got easier. Sitting at work trying not to giggle out loud while I’m working is so much better than sitting there feeling bitter and resentful or trying to keep the resentment at bay with no plan at all.

I also watch stand-up on Netflix, and SNL clips on YouTube at home. I search for “funny” on Pinterest. Pinterest has memes and Tumblr screenshots that are hilarious because there’s a lot of nerdy book people on Pinterest. That’s the never-ending scroll of my choice–funny stuff on Pinterest. I just practice smiling and laughing out loud, as hard as I can.

It doesn’t work all the time, but if I can’t enjoy it at least a little, I figure I’m low on the happy chemicals in my brain (serotonin and dopamine and such). That requires a different solution sometimes. But even when I don’t feel like it, I try to smile, because even that supposedly triggers happy chemicals in the brain (dopamine).

Psychology Today on Smiling
More on Smiling in Psychology Today


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