Among the many things I learned during the seven weeks of my flight attendant training, were passenger safety, customer service, cultural sensitivity, and how to deal with terrorists.... All very interesting and needful topics for my foray into the friendly skies. However, the lesson that helped me the most in my career and personal life was not found in the 200+ page training manual I received. Now as a mom, you may think that the terrorist training would have been the most valuable lesson (and there were days that I would have agreed with you), but the lesson I am referring to was actually much more powerful than that. I call it my secret weapon! It can be employed when dealing with 350 hungry passengers delayed on the tarmac for 3 hours, after spilling hot coffee on a wedding gown, while consoling a distraught businessman who is seated in front of a kicking two-year-old, or while explaining why the eggs are green to someone who speaks only French. This powerful tool is universal and effective on all age groups. More importantly, it can be used to bring emotional connection and harmony to your family...
…..Of course I am talking about a sense of humor!
As I look back on my parenting, I wonder when it was that I forgot this lesson and became so serious? Becoming a parent is truly a sobering experience and one to be taken seriously but that should not negate the true joy to be found in every day - regardless of your stage of parenting!
I remember when Megan was 5 years old and we were dining at someone else’s house. The adults were telling jokes and someone asked her what she had learned that day. She answered that she learned how to make proper introductions. While she was talking, she leaned back in her chair and spilled much of her dinner on her dress. I reacted by saying that maybe she should introduce her chest to the table. Being quite the entertainer, she immediately responded in her most formal voice, "Chest, I'd like you to meet table. Table, please meet Chest!" It was actually hilarious, but I spoiled the moment by correcting her because others were watching. Since Megan was characterized by obedience and good manners, this would have been a great time to encourage her sense of humor and help her learn to laugh during awkward situations. In retrospect, I totally regretted my actions and hopefully have her forgiveness :) (Are we OK, Meg?)
At that time, I was unaware of all the studies done on the therapeutic benefits of laughter (lowered blood pressure, decrease of stress hormones, increased blood flow, and pain relief to name a few.) But as a mom, I intuitively knew that our schooling went smoother, family members were calmer, and creativity flowed more when I used my secret weapon.
So let me encourage each of you to hone your weapon. Model a sense of humor for your family and teach them the value of laughing out loud together!
After, all, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine." Proverbs 17:22
For thousands of years, we have heard that laughter is the best medicine. Whether your problem is physical, mental, or emotional, it is good to remember what Mark Twain said, “Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” I know that even on a good day, I love to laugh, and I love to hear the laughter of people I care about.
One of my favorite shows of all time is the 1980’s classic Magnum, PI. Even though recently immersed in life-and-death situations during the Vietnam war, Magnum and his retired war buddies adjusted to civilian life in Hawaii with robust senses of humor, boyish delight in simple things, and the perspective that life is short and must be relished. As silly as it sounds, watching this show at such a formative time is one of the many things that shaped my desire to look at life in an unusual, fun, and positive way. I think that is the real value of humor – it helps us transcend the artificial confines of the moment to see what can be. As Jean Houston pointed out, “At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.”
I focused my research in my senior year of college on health psychology and psychoneuroimmunology. These fields are endlessly fascinating, however, they can be instantly practical in improving your life today. Check out this fabulous article from Discovery to get the down-low on this uplifting trend here.
p.s. Mom – all is forgiven ;)