What you expose your mind to matters. I choose Seinfeld.
I discovered a long time ago that what you surround yourself with eventually expresses itself through your actions and/or your beliefs, good or bad. Beware of what you focus too much attention on, or what you binge watch. Sunshine is great and we can’t live without it, but we can’t stare at the sun all day either.
My favorite thing about Netflix is the stand-up comedy. I could recommend my favorite comics, but everyone’s humor is different. Not every comic is for everyone’s taste, nor every comedic movie. There are movies that I watch and rewatch, and they still put me in a happy mood.
Seinfeld is still one of my favorite TV shows. It actually made me discover that I had some neuroses, but it also made me laugh at them. Watching Seinfeld became very therapeutic, and continues to, in reruns.
According to the article, “Is Humor Only Fun, An Alternative Cure or Magic? The Cognitive Therapeutic Potential of Humor” by Marc Gelkopf, “Humor helps the process of self-disclosure, thereby contributing to an emotional catharsis.” I wonder if the creators, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David realized they were producing medically-endorsed work, as well as the rest of the cast and crew.
• reduces tension
• makes you switch-up habitual negative thinking
• lowers levels of chemicals associated with stress
• reduces the impact of daily problems
• takes the edge off of negative life events
• helps you “appreciate the absurdity of the situation”
• lets you pick apart and mock the situation
• allows you to distance yourself from it by seeing it experienced by a TV character
• is short-lived and must be repeated often
Here are a couple of clips from the Seinfeld comedic case studies that slyly teach psychological coping skills while providing tension relief via hilariously funny situations.
Comedic Case Study #1:
Seinfeld — Season 5, “The Opposite”, where one of the favorite characters, George Costanza (Jason Alexander) has an epiphany.
“It became very clear to me sitting out there today that every decision I’ve made in my entire life has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have, in every aspect of life, be it something to wear, something to eat — it’s all been wrong.”
For the big punchline, watch George Costanza Does The Opposite. If you’ve ever felt like a loser, George will tell you how to get over it.
Comedic Case Study #2:
Seinfeld—Season 7, “The Postponement”, Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) has a mishap with a rabbi. The video proof is here.
Elaine gets humiliated but we can all relate even though if with different circumstances. She survives because we see her in the next episode, and so maybe we too can go on. The embarrassing scenario also makes you laugh and might make you more apt to forgive those who have humiliated you. In other words, it’s a way of finding a resolution for yourself. There are many annoyances in life, daily sometimes, and so the ability to change your perspective leads to a coping mechanism with what might otherwise be a very bad situation.
Not everyone’s sense of humor is the same and so Seinfeld might not be your go-to for laughs. And the show’s content might not always be currently politically-correct, nor my article either for that matter. But for me, even though Seinfeld was a TV show that aired from July 5, 1989, to May 14, 1998, I can still watch the same episodes and laugh now just as much as did then.
Comedy is so important that the medical community has declared that,
humor is now included within the medical-psychological-spiritual therapies, along with meditation.
In studies where funny movies were shown to psychiatric patients, it was found that the movies reduced anxiety, depression, anger, and improved social relations.
In “The Use of Humor in Serious Mental Illness: A Review”, Marc Gelkopf states while they couldn’t find a “dose effect” on how many movies were needed per person to serve as a prescription, the results did show an overall “positive atmosphere” was created, and that out-loud laughter was not a necessary ingredient.
You do need a sense of humor though. Not everyone has a funny bone, but it’s a lifesaver if you do.
Maybe up and coming comics can try out their new material at mental health facilities, if they don’t already.
Just in case, Counselor and Stand Up Comic, David Granirer founded Stand Up for Mental Health, where he trains patients’ themselves in stand-up and readies them for public performances that he also presents. One purpose is to educate people about stigma. Granirer also claims that humor helps the comic-patients to have better relationships by developing a more easy-going view on life.
As you can see, it’s beneficial to laugh at life. Sometimes that’s really hard to do. However, if you accomplish it, then that’s the first sign of healing. Here’s to hoping you head to your nearest comedy club or tune into a funny TV sitcom and forget for even a few moments what had been otherwise worrying you all day.
Remember that comics are the new clinicians. So for your sanity, support comedy!