Everyone goes on a diet for New Year’s.
Or maybe you’re also one of those people who realizes dieting doesn’t work so well.
I don’t diet…it’s not healthy to rubber-band back and forth, up and down. But I love yo-yos.
So this year, I’m going on a Serious Diet. I am abstaining from being serious. Cold turkey. I can eat all the cold turkey I want, but I’m done with being serious. I’m serious…I mean, not serious.
Even though I’m a comedian, I know I take my own life off stage a little too seriously. Oh, the irony! (It’s not lost on me.)
But I’m realizing I just don’t want to become one of those people who you meet and wish you hadn’t. You know, one of those people who look like they were born on the wrong side of the bed. One of those people who, you don’t even wonder what horrible thing happened to them, or why they’re upset, because they just seem like that’s who they’ve always been.
Well, just like people who are overweight, those people were once…less like that. That’s because it builds a little, day by day.
You can practice smiling or you can practice frowning.
It’s easy to use the excuse of being an adult as a reason not to find things funny. But no more excuses like that for me. No more, “I have bills to pay…you think bills are funny?” or “We’re at war…who can laugh at a time like this?”
The first step in the Serious Diet is getting out of the habit of acting like an adult all the time. Habits are for nuns. Throw ’em out! (Not the nuns, the habits.)
Instead, replace the habit of seriousness with the sacred ritual of ridiculousness and spontaneous acts of silliness.
They say it takes 21 days to create a new habit, so for 21 days I’m quitting all seriousness. No serious talks, no earnest emails, no fretting about whether my shoes go with my purse. No purses. Purses are serious.
But what to put in place place of being overly-serious? I have decided I’m going to feed myself a steady diet of raw, unprocessed laughter.
Here’s the daily plan for detoxing the seriousness out of my life:
Food-wise I’m a grazer, so I am probably going to be the same with laughter. Don’t expect a serious diet with some big Jerry Seinfeld of a meal at six sharp with everyone sitting around the dinner table.
Also, I’m a liberated woman, so I won’t be spending the entire day slaving over a hot joke just so my man can lightly snicker at it at the end of the day, and then nonchalantly ask if I left any Jon Stewart on the DVR. No, he’ll have to laugh at what I joke about and he’ll be making jokes for me to laugh at too.
Wake up: Morning laughter meditation. Sit on the zabutan and just do a little Om-ing (chanting, that is—not the other kind) until it turns into Ohhh hoooo hooo haaaaa haaa hoooo! I’m going to observe the sensations in each part of my body and send them laughter. Laughter is like roughage. It cleans you out. You can’t have too much of it. Well, there was a case in Tanzania in 1962 where there was an outbreak of laughter. People couldn’t stop. It spread. It was dangerous.
Breakfast: Blessing the food with laughter. “Thanks, God! This is some frickin’ good food! Ha!” Then maybe I’ll read the comics in the paper. Except I don’t get a paper anymore, so I’ll have to read them online. And laugh at how not-funny The Family Circus is.
Work (at home): No serious meetings. Every meeting has to open with each person sharing something absurd.
Light Lunch: I’ll just have a light lunch. Really, we’ll just be keeping everything light.
Snack: Youtube “cats.”
Dinner: We’ll take on the serious topics of the day at dinner, but we aren’t allowed to say the words “The”, “A”, “I”, or “You” when we talk about them, so it’ll sound funnier, like in Soviet Russia.
Evening: Laughter Yoga Class. I’m going to gather all my friends to join me nightly for laughter yoga! Why? Because I laugh at yoga.
After-Dinner Snack: Youtube “America’s Funniest Videos.”
Bedtime Snack: Youtube “Bloopers Reels of The Office.” They are teaching me how to laugh again.
Warning: Consult your physician first. Remember, people, moderation is the name of the game. I’m obligated to say that because of the lawyers. I don’t want another nasty call from the guy who got into a box of chuckles and forgot it was the day of his great uncle’s funeral.
I’m on Day eight, and it’s funny—the more I laugh, the less I want to eat. I don’t ever want to go back to being serious again.
I’ve taken pictures of myself as a serious person so that I can mark the day when I reach my goal of becoming a silly person.
I haven’t exactly figured out how I’ll be able to tell if I’ve reached my goal, so I’m just going to keep taking pictures every day and see when I look less like someone who would throw a dog out a moving car into a river and more like someone who would jump out of a moving car to save a dog in a river.
Wanna join me?
Here are some ideas for your own Serious Diet:
Helium and laughing gas for breakfast: Who needs a dentist or balloon animal artist? Try these two together and you can rise to the occasion of hilarity while you giggle your teeth off!
Belly laughs for lunch: Make sure they are the big ones that leave you feeling full. Belly buster laugh sandwiches!
For a filling snack, try some cold hard honesty: It can be funny, especially from old people: “I don’t like that outfit, young lady!” “Your hips are too skinny and your breasts are too big…. What are they feeding you?” And my personal favorite, “Why don’t you grow up and get a real job?”
Light supper: Get tickled—not by Elmo. Try ostrich feathers. Sure, turkey feathers could suffice, but when you are on a serious diet you need a serious bird.
Alicia Dattner is a standup comedian, coach and expert on spiritual comedy. She’s been touring the world, selling out her one-woman shows, Eat, Pray, Laugh!, The Oy of Sex, and The Punchline, and winning awards, including “Best Storyteller” in the NY United Solo Festival, “Best of the Fringe” in the SF Fringe Festival, and “Best Comedian 2011″ in the East Bay Express. Now she’s bringing together comedians with a sense of spirituality and spiritual teachers with a sense of humor in the world’s first Online Spiritual Comedy Festival Jan. 29 – March 21.
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