Steve Bhaerman aka Swami Beyondananda
Wake Up Laughing is where healing laughter and “new edge” comedy meet. For years we have been learning that laughter in and of itself has proven physiological benefits. Laughter produces endorphins, our body’s natural painkiller. Laughter improves immune function. Hearty laughter is literally good for the heart, because when we laugh it causes our blood vessels to dilate. And that is certainly better than having them die early!
But laughter is medicine in the Native American sense as well, a transformational tool that used wisely can bring not just physical healing, but emotional release, mental flexibility and spiritual perspective. George Carlin once said that most people go to comedy clubs to release just enough tension so they can go back to their basically unsatisfying lives. Put all of these unsatisfying lives together and you get … well, just turn on the TV.
What I call “new edge” comedy has enough of an edge to cut through the bull that lurks behind every sacred cow. But unlike the cynical (and even mean) comedy that our culture has cultivated over the past 30 years, Wake Up Laughing offers a healing intention designed to awaken joy, compassion, kindness, wisdom — and the innocent playfulness that so many of us abandoned when we were tricked into believing that life is serious. As Swami Beyondananda has said, “Life is a joke … but God is laughing with us, not at us.” And if God is laughing, who are we to not laugh?
Wake Up Laughing is here to help you wake up to the Cosmic Comedy, and go forth and multiply playfulness and joy.
May you wake up laughing, and leave laughter in your wake. And may the Farce be with you.
10 Ways to Wake Up Laughing — and Leave Laughter in Your Wake
1. Laugh Every Day. Seriously … laughter is good for you. And when things “just aren’t funny” — that’s the most important time to laugh. Try this at home: Watch Funniest Home Videos with the sound off and Spike Jones playing instead.
2. Don’t Worry, You’re Already Funny. Instead of trying to be funny, learn to see funny. Especially learn to see what’s funny about you. Imagine God watching the Comedy Channel, and you are what’s on.
3. Bring Laughter to the Outernet. Take the best of those jokes you get on the internet and share them on the “outernet.” Practice by telling the same joke to five people. Short jokes are fine. Remember, it’s not the length of the joke that matters, it’s how much pleasure it
4. Savor and Save Humorous Healing Stories. A good laughsitive cleanses the system and leaves the mind open to receive nourishment. Keep a notebook of jokes that “enlighten as they lighten.” You will find yourself remembering and using them just at the right time.
5. Turn Worry Into Laughter. When you find yourself worrying about something, step back from the worry and see if you can find something in the situation to laugh about. Worrying has no proven benefits. Laughter does. Did you know that one Youngman of laughter — the mirth contained in the average one-liner — can release up to a megahurt of emotional pain?
6. Reframe Suffering as Comedy in Disguise. Sing the blues when you are angry, sad or frustrated. If you must complain, complain creatively — and thoroughly enjoy your complaining. Say, “You know what I love about this ….?” Look for the comedy “hidden in this picture.” (e.g., “I’m not on the verge of bankruptcy. I’m just having a near-debt experience.”)
7. Build Critical “Muscle” By Pumping Ironies. Looking for the inherent contradictions and incongruities in situations helps build a strong body politic 12 ways. Train your inner child to ask, “How come that emperor isn’t wearing any clothes?” When you watch the news or read the papers, be on the lookout for truth disguised as humor.
8. Develop a Comic Alter Ego. A shy, mild-mannered man named Edgar Bergen went “inside” and found a brash, outrageous alter ego which he called Charlie McCarthy — who would do and say things that would make Edgar blush. Even if your “character” never makes it beyond your bathroom mirror, a comic alter ego is a great way to give voice to daily frustrations and lovingly laugh at your own “shadow.” One of the best ways to break the addiction to your own personality is try some other ones on!
9. Write Your Laugh Story. Spend an afternoon or evening writing your life story as if it were a comedy. Which comic actors could play your family, friends and foes? Who would you get to play your part? Give your story a title. A friend of mine calls his “Don’t Do What I Did!”
10. Play Regularly. Have you ever felt the Creator is toying with you? Well then, follow Swami Beyondananda’s sage advice and become a creative plaything. Bring the childlike quality of play back into your life. Run up the down escalator. Dress for Halloween — any day the mood hits you. Plant the seeds of harmless fun wherever you go.
© Steve Bhaerman, http://www.wakeuplaughing.com, 2002.
Feel free to circulate, with attribution only.