By Assunta Ng
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Amidst Covid stress, horrible news, and tragedies, I try to design steps to amuse myself to maintain my mental balance. I found it…accidentally…
It leads me to the question, “What’s the most effective mode to destress?”
HaHAHaHaHAha!!! Laughter. You might challenge me, “There’s nothing funny about Covid!” And there’s nothing funny about people dying from Covid. It should be the emotions of grief and sadness. I agree. But we can’t live in agony forever. It will kill us fast. What helps us to heal and rebound? Laughter. Smile. Joy.
The benefits of laughter are enormous. Aside from destressing our body, laughter keeps me sane during this painful and unusual period. To laugh and smile more than ever during Covid might sound insensitive to many. However, we need to for survival purposes. Laughter makes me feel hopeful, positive, and looking forward to greeting the sunshine in the morning and ready for the demanding schedule of the day.
Another benefit is “Laughter always gets more laughter,” wrote Rotarian Bala Murthy, in the Rotary magazine. “Even with people we are meeting for the first time, it creates bonding.”
I used to laugh whenever our company received great business deals. The pandemic has changed the way I perceive the definition of joy. Now, I experience joy in greater latitude—big and small dimensions, things I could or couldn’t see but imagine, pleasures of the past, present and future, joy of anticipation, experiences of the beautiful and ugly. Pleasant surprises light up my day. A baby’s laugh brings me joy (which I watch on YouTube). Good news enhances my whole attitude. And I frequently seek those incredible stories and moments so I could feel awe and wonder. (We had many amazing stories last week, still vivid in my mind).
There are ways you can achieve laughter, you just have to put it into practice. You know all the principles.
Turning tears into joy
My friend Kiku Hayashi died recently. My first reaction was shock and sadness. Then I remembered all the good things she had done in life and her funny stories. A few years back, someone asked her to subscribe to my competitor’s paper. Instead, she mailed me a check to subscribe to the Northwest Asian Weekly. Her relentless loyalty brought me laughter. Her lovely cards made me smile.
I enjoyed her sense of humor and exuberance for life. She always said, “I never say ‘no’ to a free meal.” No one appreciated food more than she did. Kiku always brought fun to the parties I organized. I miss you, Kiku.
Laugh at yourself
The other day, I rushed out the door for a meeting. But I stopped and hurried back to my home because I thought I forgot something. I couldn’t remember what I forgot.
Wow, one gaze into the mirror and I saw myself and couldn’t stop laughing. I didn’t have any eyebrows. I forgot to paint my eyebrows as part of my make-up routine. My magical eyebrow pencil changed my face from an imperfect woman to a decent-looking person.
So, don’t take yourself so seriously. Whatever happens to you, laugh first. The Dalai Lama’s nickname is laughing Buddha, even though his exiled life has been tough. He always smiles and laughs a lot when he talks to people. Then I recognize it’s also my husband’s characteristic. He often chuckles at my missteps and other nonsense, and I used to get mad at him. With the pandemic, a good laugh is a healing strategy and also a good defense against Covid.
If you hold grudges, you can’t be a happy person. I remember what my friend said, “Everyone is my friend. No one is my enemy.” His positive attitude always reminds me to be generous.
Never let your ego get in your intent to forgive. Never forget to say “sorry” when you are wrong. Sometimes, I say sorry even though I know I am right as I know it will make someone feel better.
Remember all the good things people have done for you. Forget all the nasty acts people did to you. It’s easier said than done. But try anyway. You might not be able to accomplish it immediately. But over time, it’s not as hard as you think. It will be better for your health.
Negative emotions such as rage, depression, and anxiety can wreak havoc on your immune system and cells.
Some of our detractors are now our supporters. They read our stories diligently. What else could I ask for?
Celebrate the milestones of others
As we age, the inevitable happens—several of our friends and loved ones die, without getting the chance to say goodbye. Living with regret is agony.
If there’s an opportunity, you can help celebrate your loved ones’ birthday, anniversary, and accomplishment. Be a part of their milestones by suggesting or initiating the celebration. It brings us happiness and laughter to share sweet things in life. Those memories will be with us forever because we are the ones who make things happen.
Save the happy news
I know I blogged that people tend to remember negative things more than positives in their lives. We have to change that. Start a journal for happy news. Write down all the marvelous narratives in our lives, especially before and during Covid. I would include all my travel experiences with great photos. Our trips to Australia and New Zealand and Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina will always remind me of how magnificent those trips were. The fireworks in Sydney on New Year’s Eve was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Iguazu Falls is so much more beautiful and grand than Niagara Falls. Those fabulous videos made me relive all our adventures again. This exercise will remind us to smile and laugh when we reread them in the future.
Last week was a fantastic week not just for the Asian community, but for me as a journalist. I love to report good news. Emma Rachucanu, of Chinese and Romanian descent, won the U.S. Open, and her opponent, Leylah Fernandez, is also Asian. Shang-Chi, starring Chinese Canadian Simu Liu, is a hit in Asia (except China) and the U.S. China has not released the movie yet. For two consecutive weeks, it was the No. 1 movie in the box-office in the U.S and Canada.
Give praise lavishly
During Covid, we had limited face-to-face interactions with friends. I cherish all the in-person meetings. You never know who will show up. I don’t know if it has anything to do with the pandemic, but I tend to remember all the good things people have done for us during those encounters. I make sure I thank them in person when there is time. I want them to know that I notice their contributions. It’s a way to reinforce people to do good work for the community.
Get out and taste life
Because of Covid, lots of people would rather stay home. It’s hard to experience joy and laughter when you have to shelter in place.
After my husband and I got vaccinated, we went out more. With our masks and vaccination, it protects us and other people.
Last weekend, we visited Olympic Sculpture Park. Cruise ships were docking along the waterfront. Lots of passengers were checking in the ships. Although we were just observers, we were delighted to see many groups of people getting on board with happy faces.
It’s wonderful to see family reunions and friends being so excited on their long-awaited trip because of Covid.
Knowing that the Norwegian cruise requires passengers to have their vaccination two weeks prior to boarding is a relief. I wouldn’t want so many unvaccinated folks to visit Seattle. The cruise business reflects a bit of normalcy after months of lockdown. This is important not only for our economy, but for my mental well-being. We might not be completely back to normal. We are getting there…one day at a time.
The late Phil Smart Sr. gave every Rotarian of his club a laughing gadget. It was filled with laughter from young cancer patients at Seattle Children’s Hospital. The kids’ laughter was loud and contagious—so much fun laughing that anyone hearing it would desire to laugh instantly. I click it often. Thank you, Phil.
Assunta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.