Fun For Profit
Humour can be lots of things: Fun, brutal, surprising, offensive, subtle, … helpful.¹ Humour is a useful tool to re-contextualise extremes and emotions. As such, it serves as a grounding tool.
I learnt this from a friend when I was feeling terrible, years ago. I had been sick for months, my mood was already low, I had just flunked an exam (months of illness hadn’t allowed me to attend even once) and my mood had turned from dark to black and morose. I talked to this friend hoping for understanding, or compassion, or a kick in the butt . Instead he listened to me, nodded, and told me: “Hmm, yes, woe is you. I can see that there will not be another happy day in your life. Actually, you should probably start wearing only black or gray. Sad times. Want to go shopping for your new monocolour wardrobe?”
Turns out this was what I needed: Some context. While life kind of sucked, it wouldn’t suck forever, and walking around in a funereal mood wasn’t doing me any favours. Now, this strategy is risky, and you should only use it with friends you know very well, and even then cautiously and sparingly. If you use it when your friend is not receptive to it, you’ll come off as cruel, and your friend (and probably your friendship) will understandably be hurt. But you can use it on yourself to your heart’s content.
I like to use it when I notice that I’m putting off work. Avoidance is often fear-based, so I’ll put into words what I’m afraid of, and then exaggerate wildly. For instance, I hadn’t posted blog posts in the past couple of days, because I was busy. Getting back into something like this is always harder than staying in the flow, so I looked at my list of blog post ideas, and found that I had an excellent excuse for every single one of them. For instance, a post on exaggerating and humour as a useful mental tool was nothing new. People have written about this before. There are thousands of blog posts out there, and every single person on this planet has read at least one of them! It’s the most belaboured topic you can imagine! Hm. Maybe not?
Another topic would be something I’m not qualified to talk about, really. Everybody on the internet is qualified to put their opinion out there, only mine doesn’t count! Hm. Nah, I’m not that special. Or maybe people wouldn’t like it! They’d turn in disgust from me and never talk to me again, because who’d talk to a person with a sub-par blog post?!
Exaggeration works well for me, but other forms of humour are good, too. Slapstick for physical mishaps, and punnage and absurdism for pretty much everything in everyday life, especially when interacting with corporations and authorities. Anything that’s taking your framing of a situation and turning it into something entirely unexpected.
A word of caution: Do this from a place of kindness. If you introduce derision, you’ll harm yourself and set a dangerous precedent for contemptuous self-talk. Don’t “lol this idiot can’t even walk laugh track”. Do “This could’ve been my application to the Ministry of Silly Walks”.
¹ Seeing as I’m both German and not a very funny person, it can also stay out of this post. Call it ironic.