by Aaron Smale

I try to laugh as many times as I can every day, and those laughs range from laughing hysterically to a silent smirk as I find something comically out of place.

To me, having laughter in my life is critical to my own sense of wellbeing and calm as one day flows into the next.  It’s nothing new that life is often difficult, stressful and sometimes feels like too much for one person to handle.

I’ll even admit that I’ve had those bleak “woe-is-me” days — the ones where all I want to do is sulk and wallow and remove myself from my friends, my job and even the things that I like doing. Often that will be because things pile up: my car will need expensive maintenance on a Sunday when I’m away from Reno and can’t get it to the shop, I’ll have a bad day at work or school, and then I’ll do something brainless like forgetting my thumb-drive at the library. In those moments, I find it that much easier to just throw my hands up and surrender to being pessimistic about the whole ordeal.

But then I’ll find something to laugh about, even if that something is myself.  Call me naïve, call me pretentious, but I’m of the mind that life is a little too short to always be taking it so seriously — with a heaping helping of doom and gloom.  I can watch a romantic comedy, a stand up performance or some good old slapstick. It often puts me in a better frame of mind that doesn’t present a guarantee that I’ll be able to better my current situation, but it does put me in a better mindset from which to approach problems that I might be having.

The most successful comedians, or people who write comedic television or movies, demonstrate a flair for presenting comedy that can work on several different levels and show us humor in many contexts.

Satire can work to illustrate some of the silliness in a lot of the institutions that we venerate in contemporary culture (politics, education, marriage, etc.) in a way that is simultaneously wicked, intelligent and comical.  There is situational comedy, which challenges what we commonly think about aspects of everyday life, while at the same makes us laugh about the things that stress us out. Comedy like this can help us to see the world in more humorous ways and make life even slightly more bearable.

Laughter is great to alleviate stress and anxiety because if we can laugh at something, we can realize that it’s not nearly as harmful or dangerous as we give it credit for.  When I’m laughing so hard that I’m crying and having trouble breathing, I can step aside and recognize that I don’t handle some of my problems because I make them out to be so horrendous in my head.  After I compose myself, I often realize I need to stop messing with my own head and get in gear.  Taking a moment to laugh about life’s general quirkiness doesn’t help to solve all of the problems that I have in life, but sometimes getting the punch-line helps me to get over myself.

Aaron Smale studies English. He can be reached at opinion@nevadasagebrush.com.