When was the last time you laughed during a difficult moment in your life?
You've probably often heard the old adage, “Laughter is the best medicine.”
Well, it truly is.
There is nothing like a good belly laugh, a silent giggle or the reaction to a bad joke to lessen the stress of any situation. Difficult moments are the most difficult to find a laugh in, but if you can manage it, it feels like a ton of bricks have magically disappeared from your shoulders.
Several years ago I had a friend who was in the hospital with a potentially life-threatening condition.
As I visited her in the hospital one day, we could not help but laugh at the circumstances we had suddenly found ourselves in. The laugh we had that day was just as effective as any medicine. It felt great to laugh, and it brought a semblance of normality to our lives.
I find that laughter can also relieve the nervousness that comes in meeting someone for the first time. As a reporter, I meet a lot of people, and sometimes I go into an interview not knowing what type of personality I'll be dealing with. Will he and I click? How comfortable is she talking about herself, especially knowing that's it's going to be published? How enthusiastic is he about the interview? Will she give one-word answers?
A lot of times I do an interview where the atmosphere is ice-cold, and the person just wants to get it over with as soon as possible. I think, maybe they're nervous; maybe they don't want to do the interview. Maybe they just don't know what to say.
In a situation like this, I automatically come to the conclusion that the subject would rather be someplace else. So I interject a little humor. Maybe I'll ask a successful business owner, who used to sell products out of the trunk of his car, what kind of car he used to own and if it got good gas mileage.
This week, I found a photograph in the La Cañada Valley Sun's photo system depicting two neighbors filling sandbags in preparation for the storms now sweeping over our area. It wasn't so much the sandbags they were filling that caught my eye, but the smile they had on their faces as they went about their difficult task. I mean, filling sandbags is not something you do every day. And if you don't do it right, it can get quite messy. Soon you'll go back home covered in sand from head to toe because shoveling sand really isn't among your talents.
So take a moment to laugh this week, whether it's shoveling sand, doing interviews or just having a stressful day. Find a funny website to look at for five minutes, like www.notalwaysright.com or, my favorite, www.angryjournalist.com. It'll make your day a lot better. I promise.
?MICHAEL J. ARVIZU is a reporter for the La Cañada Valley Sun, Glendale News-Press and Burbank Leader newspapers. Reach him at (818) 637-3263, or e-mail michael.arvizu@ latimes.com.