Sometime in the last few weeks, I realized I hadn't had a good laugh. When I said good, I mean an out loud, can't stop until your abs hurt and tears stain your cheeks-type of a laugh. It's not that I was particularly unhappy or anything, I was simply preoccupied and letting my general busyness get the best of my time. Recognizing that this was out of character and needed to change, I sought out some laughter. Here's what worked:
Friends IRL. Seems obvious, right? But being distracted and caught up in work meant missing out on real-life interactions. Sending the occasional haha or LOL text does not equate to the magic that is other people. A happy hour here, night out there and boom, last Saturday, I laughed until I cried on a friend's front porch in the midst of a summer storm. Laughing so damn hard that I didn't want to go home until I absolutely had to relieve the dogs.
Comedy specials. Perhaps you've heard of this little thing called Netflix. Well, the folks behind it seem to be investing heavily in comedy to my benefit. Just last night I turned on Iliza Shlesinger's "Elder Millennial" and I already want to watch it again. As Jesse and the dogs slept through it, I spent a solid hour by myself, dying laughing as she talked about dating, weddings, babies and she-dragons. #toadhole Also worth watching: both Ali Wong specials.
The awkward years. Now this one is subjective but as someone who used to be overly sentimental, I collected a lot of stuff in my formative years. That includes countless photographs (the real kind! with negatives!) and assorted stickers, programs, ticket stubs and more. I keep this miscellaneous ephemera in photo boxes and pull it out when I need to laugh. If you can't giggle over your bad haircuts and heinous outfits, try laughing at others.
Silly stuff. No one is ever going to call me happy-go-lucky and that's fine. Still, despite my sarcastic, borderline misanthropic tendencies, I love genuinely silly media. Pauly Shore movies (my personal favorite is "Son in Law"). Ridiculous sitcoms like "Sabrina, The Teenage Witch" as well as absurdist ones like "Frasier." As someone who writes and researches for a living, I try to not take myself so seriously when it comes to entertainment.
The larger point is that for many of us, joy isn't a constant. Every now and again, I have to hit pause and take stock of how I'm feeling and what, if anything, I'm missing. It took me years to realize that I need to laugh long and hard on a regular basis, something easily lost in an otherwise mundane week of work, home, sleep, repeat. And for that, there's Dilbert.