Why are we so serious?

Maybe it’s just the area I live and work in here in the Midwest but people are so serious most of the time.  Why does therapy have to be so serious?  I remember that being a discussion in grad school that therapy is serious work.  In a way it makes sense.  My clients come to me with big issues.  They trust me with the intimate details of their personal life.  Many have survived some pretty traumatic situations.  Of course I want to honor the trust they are giving me.  At the same time life isn’t always serious.  So it doesn’t make sense that therapy has to be serious all the time.

I have come to learn that humor is healing. 

In fact I have witnessed, as a therapist, if a client can have an opposite emotional reaction to something bothersome the previously problematic emotion begins to lessen.  Knowing that and seeing it repeatedly makes me strive to have light and fun sessions.  No not every session is it’s own comedy show, however more often than not somewhere in a session there’s smiles and laughter.

What about outside of the therapy office?  Are people striving to have fun?  I find most are striving to get a better car or something else better that’s more materialistic than fun.  When is the last time you had a good belly laugh?  Like made you pee in your pants funny?  It’s a question I’ve been known to ask myself.  I’m not immune to getting caught up in the day to day of adulting and parenting.  Fun gets put on the back burner for all of us.

Do you know the proverb “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?”  I think a lot of adults have forgotten this.

I ask my clients and even my friends “Do you work to live or live to work?”  Where’s a large portion of your energy going each day? 

I know we all have bills to pay.  And pay them we must.  We also greatly benefit from stopping work and playing.  Playing can be having a long lunch with a good friend, seeing a great movie with someone or shoot even on your own.

Recently I went to see a comedy at the local movie theater with a friend.  The movie was funny, it was one of those physical comedies with people getting into trouble and such.  I laughed at the movie but I also laughed at my friend who was having these great reactions to the craziness she was watching.  I’m really not sure which was funnier her or the movie.  She had a good time, I had a good time and I slept better that night.  My body just released some stress and it made a big difference for me.

Playing can be getting out and literally playing with your kids or your dog.  It can also be something much more simple.

Recently I was out in my yard and I noticed an odd bug flying around some of my flowers.  It was odd enough it made me pause and take note of it.  I ended up researching it and found out it was a Hummingbird Moth.  I’ve heard of them but never seen one in person, didn’t even know they lived in the Midwest.  I showed my husband and my daughter and then just sat on my little sidewalk and watched it for a pretty long time.  What an amazing experience!  Since then there’s been a few more, or maybe it’s the same one who can tell.

Our brains need us to play.  It’s not designed to be in adult work mode 24/7. 

When  we stop and pause to look at a moth parts of our brain are focusing on the moth but other parts are processing and organizing other things like stress, anxiety, work, etc.  Staying in work mode all the time is like driving your car 65 miles per hour everywhere you go and then you don’t understand why you’ve run out of gas so fast.

Biologically we must stop and play and have fun.  What’s the point of this life if all that we do is run in work mode?  Life is better when you have some fun.

I’m going to leave you with a challenge…the challenge is to find time each day to smile if not to also laugh.  

One of my favorite things to do to spread more fun into the world is compliment people.  In fact I challenge myself to compliment complete strangers about their hair, their shoes, just something.  You’d be amazed how quickly someone will smile and it might even lead to a conversation with someone interesting that will give you both a moment to giggle.

This isn’t a challenge to sit and meditate for 20 minutes a day; it’s a challenge to find and savor those short moments of joy in your life.  Stop and just watch a bee pollinate some flowers.  You will be doing your soul, your mind, and your brain a lot of good.  Laughter is healing.

How about we start healing ourselves, others, and our world one sweet giggle at a time?

Tara S. Dickherber is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a National Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist in St. Charles, Missouri.  She specializes in working with survivors of trauma and is the author of “Laughter: The Best Medicine: How humor can help your clients & alleviate burnout.”  To learn more about Tara please visit her website.