At the Bates/Giles household we celebrate Mardi Gras. As a young person I spent time at a place in New York where Mardi Gras was celebrated (no, it is not strictly a New Orleans thing) and learned to enjoy the season there.
And Mardi Gras is a season. It ends on the day before Ash Wednesday, a day that has come to be called "Fat Tuesday," but the festival actually starts weeks earlier. There are many local clubs (called "kewes") that have their own parades and celebrations. I have long supported the Science Fiction Nerd krewe called The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus and watch the parade on YouTube every year.
For my household Mardi Gras usually means I will serve a King Cake or two, and I make an effort to cook Cajun. We put up a few special decorations. It's basically pretty low key but we take the motto of Mardi Gras "Laissez les bons temps rouler" (let the good times roll) seriously. We make an effort to get some humor into otherwise dreary winter days. The Comedy Channel, practical jokes and a determined effort not to take things seriously are the keys.
In 1979 Norman Cousins, the professor of medical humanities at UCLA, published a book titled The Anatomy of the Illness as Perceived by the Patient. It recounted his battle to overcome a degenerative disease called ankylosing spondylitis. He was told he had less that a one in five hundred chance of recovery.
Cousins was shocked at what he found going on at the hospital where he was staying. He found examples of improper nutrition, poor human care and overuse of medical technologies. He checked himself out and created his own recovery plan. He took Vitamin C and exposed himself to comedy movies and television shows. He recovered completely and quickly.
Emotions, in addition to everything else they may be, are biochemical states in the body. When you change your emotions you are changing your biochemistry. For many life-changing conditions, that can be enough to help you turn things around.
Laugher really is good medicine and Dr. Cousins became the poster boy for that proposition. I loved the book and took it seriously. My celebration of Mardi Gras is an annual reminder to go get some laughs.
These days the national news is dreadful. I've recommended a "news fast" to some of my clients who found themselves brought low by exposure to daily news. That's an extreme step but I do believe that laughter is an antidote for a lot of modern problems and so recommend it.
When was the last time you had a good laugh?