Because women over age 50 want yet another test, I'm offering the "Midlife Laughter Challenge" for those who still believe that life needs a middle-aged chuckle instead of a middle finger. The challenge is to laugh at least once a day for two weeks. It’s mainly because angst is so overrated, and if we’re all going to hell in a hand basket, make sure mine is stuffed with chocolate, wine, assorted good books, and refreshing wet wipes.
I created the challenge because I see too many crabby people. They're everywhere. Gloomy, dejected, hopeless souls are moping about underneath their favorite miserable cloud of doom, and their sorry melancholy is interfering with my jovial mood. That's why I keep a red clown nose in my car to pop on when I'm at a stop light so I can wave at the drivers next to me. They either snarl and flip off my effort or they smile in return. It's a gamble I'm willing to take for the betterment of society.
Here are five simple suggestions to begin the “Midlife Laughter Challenge.”
1. Create a positive morning routine. If you must have an alarm clock, replace the screeching buzzer that is reminiscent of the shower scene from the movie Psycho with some energetic music. Try something between Barbra Streisand's "Don't Rain on my Parade" and Tina Turner's "Proud Mary." Then take a few minutes to mediate on why you're lucky to have another day even though your back aches, your eyes are crusted shut, you can't remember what month it is, and you’ve suddenly developed morning flatulence.
2. Dare yourself to smile. Find or take a photograph of you laughing and tape the photo on your bathroom mirror and next to the coffee pot. I have a photo of me laughing with a friend while sharing a bottle of Cabernet. (Substitute beer, donuts, and/or cheesecake, if necessary.) Concentrate to recall how a good belly laugh makes you feel. If it's been over a decade since you laughed until you snorted, stop everything and go find something funny. Now.
3. Throughout the day, balance irritations with gratitude. Expect to wait in long lines of grouchy people, but realize that it must suck to be them while you are free to burst into a spontaneous version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” at any moment, complete with air guitar and head banging. Exuberant jolliness really annoys the caustic crowd, so enjoy your power over them.
4. Keep a supply of humorous books, movies, and favorite articles. Funny middle-aged women are writing delightful blogs on the Internet, so allocate twenty minutes to read some of them. My movie collection contains sophisticated classics such as Airplane and Blazing Saddles, and sometimes, late at night, I watch reruns of I Love Lucy. It’s a guilty pleasure that I don’t get from Pulp Fiction or Chainsaw Massacre.
5. End the day by writing a brief synopsis of happy thoughts in your journal. No laughter? Don't go to bed until you find a joke or humorous anecdote that makes you laugh or at least smile. Best assignment ever!
After two weeks of laughing every day, you'll have a better outlook on life. And people will enjoy being around you. Laughter is contagious so you want to infect entire populations as you can, and then extend the challenge every two weeks. Strive to avoid pompous jerks and stop reading online comments from Internet trolls who delight in spewing anonymous crap just to make others mad. Pity these wretched souls because they are in desperate need of a belly laugh before they shrivel up and die. Finally, choose to be happy because a merry heart truly is the best medicine.
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