I’m not sure how I missed Neil Simon’s hit comedy, the semi-autobiographical coming of age movie Brighton Beach Memoirs when it came out in the late eighties, but I watched it the other night. Although it was set in a very different time and place, it brought me back to my childhood home with rooms so small there was no privacy. I remembered my neighborhood, where the houses were so close you could practically hear what people were discussing at the dinner table.
The streets were our playground, unpopulated with cars and overpopulated with kids. We could play kickball and hopscotch there during the day and play cards at night under the streetlight. We had the freedom to think up all kinds of things to do, sometimes productive, but mostly not so much.
When I think back on it, especially with a comedic eye like Neil Simon’s, I remember how yes, it was a little bit crowded and sometimes just a tad crazy. Still, there was always so much personal drama going on. It taught me a lot about people, and it was highly entertaining.
I am convinced that no matter what our circumstance, it is to our great advantage to keep that sense of fun in our lives. If we cannot laugh at ourselves we become, well, a little less healthy. As Norman Cousins documented in his bestseller Laughter is the Best Medicine, humor is a very good thing for our general sense of well-being.
Of course, a full range of emotion gives our lives color and informs us of the world around us. Try to infuse that flow of feeling with humor whenever possible. During hard times, the ‘comedy’ around us might be just a little touch black, but that is infinitely better than being miserable. Attitude, most of the time, really is a choice. So, if you can, switch it up a bit and try to see things with a not-so serious eye.