I have come to view life as a dark comedy that reflects my realistic optimism in which I choose to maintain a positive outlook, but within the constraints of what is known about the world. If you look closely there is tragedy all around us – inequality is everywhere in our society whether it’s due to socioeconomic status, education, race, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability etc. You can easily get stuck in the negative, thinking of all the injustices in the world where it affects all of us in someway either directly or those around us. We all experience the tragic side of life, but going through those experiences are what shapes who we are.
On the contrary, viewing a negative experience more positively can help us to cope with those difficult situations. It can even help us to connect with other people by remaining open. When something negative happens to us we can react in one of two ways: positive or negative. For example, we trip on a sidewalk in front of a bunch of people (for some reason happens to me all the time). Instead of turning varying shades of red and decking into the crowd in embarrassment, why not get up and laugh at yourself then keep on going? There is no need to take that event or yourself so seriously; it happens to the best of us.
Whether it’s just a demanding day at work or a setback in my recovery, watching standup comedy has been a stress outlet for me and a way to not dwell on the negative. An even better way to get outside yourself than endlessly browsing the comedy section on Netflix is to go see a live show with friends – one of my favorite social things to do. However, comedy is more than a mere distraction that makes us laugh as it is used as a healthy coping mechanism for many. Viewing life as a comedy has many benefits such as providing a more positive perspective on a particular life event or life circumstances.
There is truth to the saying that laughter is the best medicine. Short-term benefits include increased blood flow and release of endorphins similar to a mild workout, a decreased stress response, lowered blood sugar, and relaxed muscle tension that can lead to a better quality of sleep. Over the long-term, studies have shown that using humor may increase the level of infection-fighting antibodies and boost the levels of immune cells in the body. Additionally, for those with a chronic illness, humor has been shown to improve mood by increasing happiness, and relieving pain by producing natural painkillers in the body and inhibiting pain-spasm cycles common in muscle conditions.
I recently stumbled upon the comedy special, “Fun Size” featuring standup comic, Brad Williams. In an interview for his comedy special in the clip below, Williams says he got so much attention by just being different that he figured he might as well say something entertaining if people were going to be staring at him regardless. His message about embracing dwarfism and laughing at himself is his own coping mechanism that can be applied to anyone and their own situation. He also breaks down barriers proving he can be a comedian too, and that he is more than his condition.
There is a balance between being aware of the tragedies going on around us as well as being challenged by picking ourselves back up from the hard times, and not taking life and every setback so seriously as life will continue to go on with its ups and downs. Why not view your life as a movie you would actually want to be in that makes both you and those around you happy? It may not be entirely a feel-good comedy as it shows the bumps and bruises that we all experience along the way, but why can’t we react with laughter and walk out of the theater with a smile on our faces? After all, our leading characters are still here – how lucky are we?