Aug 20, 2010

The Filipino secret for coping

The Philippines is like Haiti in the East.  But despite widespread poverty, Filipinos have the lowest suicide rate in Asia.  Japan, the wealthiest, has the highest.  How do Filipinos face their hard lives daily without sinking to despair?  Is it with our faith in the crucified incarnate Son of God?  I think so.

However, I also think that it has something to do with our sense of humor.  Here in the states, you can tell if a group of Asians are Filipinos by laughter.  It seems to be an ethnic trait so, it is hard to teach.  But I did find these suggestions from the Christophers.

  • Start the day by smiling at yourself in the mirror.  Beginning with a good, solid chuckle helps set the right mood for the whole day. 
  • Sing out loud in the shower.  
  • Have contact with children, even if it’s just observing kids in stores, at church or on the playground.  Kids are a guaranteed source of laughter.
  • Remember at least once a day something that made you laugh when you were a kid.
  • Look for laughter on television comedies or from rental movies.  Don’t forget the oldies – the Marx Brothers’ movies and the Laurel and Hardy shorts show the universality of humor over time and place.
  • Look for the opportunities to do fun things.  Just finding fun can bring pleasure.
  • Remember: laughter is contagious.  And so is grumpiness.  Be with people who laugh.  It’s possible to forgive someone a great deal if that person makes you laugh. 
  • Read a funny book on a bus. Trying not to laugh in front of strangers is guaranteed to get you laughing.
  • Recognize the silly in the stressful.  A hint: imagine during a stressful time – like a visit to the doctor’s office – how you will re-tell it to your friends later to get a laugh.     
  • Don’t hesitate to fake it.  Whether laughter is forced or spontaneous, the same muscles are used.  Keep smiling and you’ll find that real laughter is not far behind.   
  • Never feel guilty about your laughter since it’s the way the body and the spirit help you to cope.
  • And most of all, remember the cardinal rule: Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused.

Besides the physical and mental benefits of laughter, there are also spiritual benefits such that joy has become part of the Salesian spirituality.  Their Rule states:  "We make our own St. Paul's exhortation "Rejoice in the Lord always."  This is the witness we must give to youth.  "...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy and peace..." and this is where our own hope and openness to the Spirit is rooted.  Perhaps, this is also the source of the Filipino humor as it is a Catholic nation.

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