Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 10.14.46 PMHow do YOU get your laugh on?
I’m not talking about a few chuckles. I’m talking about the spontaneous kind of laughter that comes from deep inside – when the release your body experiences is so overwhelming it feels like you might start crying. And during that split second of emotion it’s almost scary to lose control. But we don’t cry. In fact we feel so alive that we keep waiting and hoping it will happen again. It’s such a transformative experience we can’t wait to share it with people. “You’ve got to see____ you will pee yourself.” “I laughed so hard it hurts.” Laughter always makes us feel better.

Let’s face it – being a grown-up is a lot of work and it can get pretty serious keeping it all together, so much responsibility, people depending on you, jobs to be done, errands to be run – we all have so much to do. Even the good stuff gets added onto the never-ending to-do list. Worked out – check. Yoga – check. Manicure – check. Paid bills – check. Returned calls – check. The list never ends. While it’s satisfying to complete tasks, sometimes you just have to bust out of the “life-is-a job” routine and laugh until it hurts.

At 7 years clean the novelty of self-care and even working a program seemed to have fallen into the “to-do list” category. It was a cold dark winter. I was sick of healing myself 24 hours a day. Winter depression was sneaking in and because I was afraid it would kick my butt I went to the video store (yes it was that long ago) and began renting old comedies and my entre attitude began to change. These days I get my laugh on by Youtubing stand-up comedians, going to comedy clubs, and listening to podcast interviews with comedians (who are often in recovery). I want to use this week’s blog to bring some laughter into your life to help release the stress you’ve been carrying around. Spend an hour with a stand-up comedian and enjoy an hour not spent thinking about you. It pays off.

Comedy is subjective. What makes one person laugh their ass off may not get a chuckle out of the next person. So find what works for you and indulge yourself. Really great comedians are the philosophers of our time. Not only will they entertain you, they’ll plant seeds for new ways of seeing the world. You may not agree with them but they will get you thinking and exploring your own ideas. This makes comedy a personal creative experience.

One of my favorite comedians – well I have many – is Bill Hicks. A long time addict and alcoholic, Bill eventually got clean only to discover he was dying of cancer. His last major tour produced his greatest work. I have included a snippet of it at the end of this blog. His message is very spiritual. And his drug stories will have you shout out “Oh my God – he’s nailed it!”

Comedians are like us – a great number of them are active addicts and alcoholics and almost as many are in recovery. Comedians are relatable. Marc Maron is one of the best interviewers on the Internet today. His podcast is fantastic. Many of his interviews are with people in recovery and he holds back nothing. You’ll be surprised by how emotionally raw these interviews are while still being wildly entertaining. Another great podcast is Anna David’s guests are all in recovery and many are comedians.

Two years ago I was going through a very dark time. It was over 100 degrees in New York City and my building was being re-wired so there was not only no air conditioning but the workers damaged so many pipes that my bathroom ceiling collapsed and my apartment was filled with mold. Add to this six friends died in a three-month period – all of them had been in 12-Step programs at one time or another. My oldest and dearest friend managed to get 6 days clean and then overdosed on methadone. During this time I experienced a level of grief I didn’t know existed. I leaned hard on stand-up comedy – I went to comedy clubs alone, watched comedy specials on cable, and YouTube’d stand-up until dawn. I swear between my recovery support group and comedy I made it through this very sad time. Laughter helped to heal me. Comedy has the power to transport us away from the prison of self-obsession and return us a little lighter and more capable of dealing with whatever is at hand.

Get your laugh on. It matters and it heals.


Patty is a nationally recognized certified recovery coach and writer. She lives in New York City.

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