To Be Able to Laugh

To Be Able to Laugh

People are stressed. A lot is happening politically. A lot is happening in regard to health, i.e. the coronavirus. A lot is happening economically. A lot is happening to our climate.

We need relief
I find relief through humor. I recently went away for a weekend with my kids and grandchildren. We rented a house in Monta Rio. We brought games and movies to watch. Saturday night we decided to watch Airplane. Most of us know the movie by heart. It does not matter how many times I watch it, the script is hysterical. I not only enjoy what I am laughing at, I also enjoy knowing what is going to happen that will make me laugh.

Relatable stories help get us through
I also watch Grace and Frankie on Netflix. Recently there was a story about Grace being unable to get off of the toilet. She figured out a way to throw a scarf around a piece of art in the bathroom which gave her leverage to pull herself up.

As I age, I am aware that I find certain behaviors harder to do. To watch her was so funny. Frankie designed a toilet where the seat lifted, making it easier to extricate herself from the toilet. They then went on Shark Tank to try to get funding to produce this toilet.

I went to Ari’s soccer game and Erik walked over to the sideline where the team was. He walked back with a puppy in his arms. Someone has brought their puppy and had forgotten a leash. Erik volunteered to caretake the dog for a bit. Watching the puppy in his arms giving kisses was a treat.

Take time for pets
Animals can provide humor for me. When I can, I call Julie before she leaves for work in the morning. I am able to have a conversation with Mango, her 17-year-old cat. We take turns talking. I ask Mango a question, and he responds. Sometimes he converses with me having to say nothing.

There is much talk on the news about the increase of depression and anxiety. I hope that people seek ways of finding relief through humor. It is valuable to laugh. There are comedy clubs. Many television or streaming shows are funny.

There is a story of the author Norman Cousins who was diagnosed with a fatal degenerative joint disease in 1979. In the hospital, he asked a friend to bring a VHS and a list of funny movies he wanted to watch. He was convinced that humor would serves to heal him. He watched Candid Camera, a television show, and Marx Brothers movies. He did heal.
Seek some balance — Laugh.

Dr. Natalie Gelman is an Alameda-based therapist. Submit questions to or through her website,