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Having Fun with April Fools Day
By Joan Whetzel
Roald Dahl once said, "A little nonsense now and then, is relished by the wisest men." April Fool's Day is a great time for such nonsense, especially when we get a chance to laugh at ourselves. The ability to laugh, even at one's self, has been shown to improve health and reduce stress. Besides, when laughing at yourself - making a fool of yourself - no one gets hurt in the process. It's simply a way to find the humor in your circumstances, or the conditions around you.
Start the Day 15 Minutes Early
If you have trouble finding humor in anything, you may find you are also in a rut and your creative processes have run dry. Try beginning the first 15 minutes of your day - right after you've woken up - by running through the "problems" you've found yourself stuck in at work or in life. This method of creative problem solving begins with: "In order to solve (problem) I should __________." Then fill in the blank with 5 of the most outrageous things you could think of doing. Your inner critic will still be too sleepy to put a stop to such nonsense, which makes it much easier to get away with. Not only that, everyone else in your household will still be in bed, so there won't be anyone around to witness the tomfoolery. Set a timer for 15 minutes and give yourself permission to cut up like a fool.
Act without Reason
If you are ready to go public with your foolishness, try "acting without reason." Of course, your actions won't really be performed without reason. You will always have a reason for doing what you are doing. The reason may simply be that you feel the need to act like a child again by skipping rope, roller skating, or swinging at the playground. On the other hand you may act this way because you need the exercise. Either way, if you're going to cut loose, go all the way, with as much enthusiasm and joy as you can muster. You'd be surprised how it changes your attitude for the rest of the day. And who knows? Your foolishness may just be the invitation others need to join in and have fun.
One hot summer day, my husband and I took are two kids (they were about 7 and 11 at the time) to the neighborhood swimming pool. One of the kids from the neighborhood had brought a volleyball with them, and a few of the kids were unenthusiastically tossing it around. At one point the volleyball splashed in front of me, so I picked it up and tossed it to one of the other parents in the pool. He tossed it to another parent, and before you know it other parents and kids joined in, and a game of keep-away took over that lasted for about an hour. It didn't matter if the adults lost the ball to the kids, or if the kids lost the ball to the adults, everyone got a hoot out of laughing at themselves and the opportunity to act foolishly for no reason at all other than it was fun. It was a blast!
I'm not talking about behaving like you have a mental illness. Making fun of mental illness isn't funny. What I'm talking about is seeing how much outrageously foolish behavior you can get away with. We're talking Jim Carey's facial-antics outrageous, or the TV show "Wipe Out" outrageous, or Lucy Ricardo outrageous (from the 1950s "I Love Lucy" series), or Danny Kaye outrageous (comedic actor from the 30s, 40s and 50s - check out some of his movies like "The Court Jester"). These are also the crazy, outrageously foolish actions of the class clown who is covering up for his or her self-consciousness as well as the comedians who go on to become stars on shows like "Saturday Night Live." These people act out with over-the-top lunacy - er, foolishness. There's always a reason for behaving this way that's really quite rational, but which they frequently don't share with the rest of us. The people performing this form of crazy foolishness are aware that of their eccentricities and crazy foolishness, and make it known that they are in on the fun.
One way to cultivate a sense of humor is to set up a game of "Joke Idol" or "April Fool's Idol" with your friends, or even in a classroom set-up. Anyone who wishes to compete can do so by putting on their best 90 second act of foolishness. Three people who aren't competing can play the part of the judges, dishing out scores for the best and worst routines. The person with the highest score becomes the king, queen or court jester of April Fool's Day Madness.
The Court Jester
I once heard a politician say that you knew you had made it if you became a skit on "Saturday Night Live." This is pretty much the modern day take on the court jester. In the olden days (from about the 12th though the 19th centuries), kings and queens would regularly hire jesters to poke fun at their royal highnesses, other members of the court, and the local politics and social trends. Since they weren't officially members of the court, they could get away with a lot more foolishness. The members of the court loved being made fun of in this way, and would get upset if they weren't sufficiently mocked. However, there was a fine line that couldn't be crossed. If the court jester crossed the line, he would face some serious consequences.
Being able to act like a fool in these ways, especially when making fun of yourself or social issues, allows you to release a tension releasing safety valve, of sorts. Humor at one's own expense robs your problems and adversities of all their power. Besides, laughing at the problems may just show the solution - or at least the pathway to the solution - before your inner critic has a chance to wake up and smell the coffee (or the foolishness).
Greive, Bradley, Trevor. The Blue Day Journal. Kansas City, Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2001.
Richardson, Drew. Think Foolishly. 15 Minutes of Foolery, Parts 1 & 2.
Wise Geek. What Is a Court Jester?
Inspiration for Singles. Laugh at yourself regularly and life will seem less of a struggle. Downloaded