Choose Laughter, Not Drama

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If I could share 500 words to inspire, this is the important wisdom I'd want to pass along to others...

  • The previous Inspirational Luminaries on this site are a tough act to follow. They have clearly already covered the spiritual essentials, so what could I possibly offer that would be new or different?

    Many years ago, a workshop leader’s response to my perpetual misery and unusually high aptitude for suffering was to advise me to “Spend six months in Disneyland and watch Saturday morning cartoons every week.” He was trying to cure me of taking the drama of my life too seriously.

    There was my answer: humor! There is a distinct dearth of mirth on these pages. Zero laughter from the rafters. And as Wavy Gravy (emcee of Woodstock) once said, “If you don’t have a sense of humor, it just isn’t funny.”

    The driving force of the Way of Humor is definitely not to get enlightened, or to attract what you want through manipulating your thoughts, or even to improve yourself one tiny little bit! The fact that you are already completely okay as you are is a given. That’s where we start from, not hope to get to someday, if we play our spiritual cards right.

    The primary teaching and only injunction of the Way of Humor is quite simple:

    LIGHTEN UP!

    If we are not laughing at the utter absurdity of this upside-down, mad and crazy world, and at our own foibles in the midst of all the Chaos and Mystery, then we are off track. But if we but follow, like gingerbread crumbs, the trail of deep belly laughs, chuckles, giggles and guffaws, it will surely guide us home to our birthright as Divine Tricksters, Benign Comedians and Entertaining Emissaries of Joy, hearty participants in life providing comic relief everywhere we go, and carrying a seltzer bottle at all times. (If you meet the Buddha on the road, squirt him!)

    Having spent nearly 40 years of my life traveling the world to meet gurus, shamans and alleged messiahs, I promise you that the most authentic among them were those who simply couldn’t stop laughing. Even though this world can be a miserable, suffering hell for far too many of us, and certainly deserving of our compassion and aid, these rare individuals nevertheless seemed to find the whole catastrophe of human existence to be utterly hilarious.

    But we can’t get there from here, if “here” means we take ourselves too seriously. If we are totally lost in the drama and significance of our own story, we lose our comedic perspective, literally our “sense” of humor. And then, as Wavy said, it just isn’t funny.

    So move in the direction of the comical, of unabashed laughter. Dare to be silly. Buy a clown nose, balloons, bubbles and a slinky. Watch your favorite comedies as part of your spiritual practice. Self-narrate your life as if it were a sitcom. Make children whoop with delight. Be tickled pink about nothing in particular. Crack yourself up daily, and hopefully, if at all possible, occasionally pee in your pants.

    Laugh here now.

    Eliezer Sobel

    Eliezer Sobel is the author of Blue Sky, White Clouds: A Book for Memory-Challenged Adults. He created it for his own mother, currently in her 11th year of Alzheimer’s disease. Although his mom had lost all of her language skills and spoke only with nonsense words, one day Eliezer made an astounding discovery.

    He happened upon his mother flipping through a magazine, reading aloud the big print, in English! He suddenly realized his mother could still read; perhaps not a paragraph or even a sentence, but individual words and short phrases. He immediately went in search of a simple, adult picture book written for people with dementia, and was shocked to find over 20,000 books aimed at the caregiver, and virtually none for the actual person being cared for! So he felt compelled to fill this gap himself.

    Eliezer is also the author of Minyan: Ten Jewish Men in a World That is Heartbroken, winner of the Peter Taylor Prize For the Novel; a memoir, The 99th Monkey: A Spiritual Journalist’s Misadventures with Gurus, Messiahs, Sex, Psychedelics and Other Consciousness-Raising Experiments; and Wild Heart Dancing: A Personal One-Day Quest to Liberate the Artist and Lover Within.

    Together with his friend, performer/writer Slash Coleman, they turned portions of Sobel’s novel Minyan into a two-man stage play, Narrow Bridge, about two men growing up as second generation survivors of the Holocaust.

    Eliezer was the Publisher and Editor of the Wild Heart Journal: Art, Creativity & Spiritual Life, and the Associate Publisher and Editor of The New Sun magazine in the late 70s. He blogs for Psychology Today and The Huffington Post, and is a certified teacher of The 5Rhythms™ Movement Practice, as developed by his late teacher of 34 years, Gabrielle Roth.

    Sobel leads creativity, singing and movement workshops throughout the United States, and lives in Richmond, Virginia with his wife, Shari Cordon, and their two cats, Peanut and Squarcialupi, an Italian Catholic tabby.

    For more information, please visit eliezersobel.com.

    View all posts by Eliezer Sobel.

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