“If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right.” ~Prof. Greg Scott
“To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain and play with it.” ~Charlie Chapman
Note: Some of you may recall this post, which was originally published on November 28, 2017 – almost exactly one year ago! Its message felt especially relevant this week. I hope it reminds you just how much your daily contributions matter, and how powerful we are when we all work together I see the work you’re doing, friend. And I’m grateful for it, and for your presence by my side. xo, michele
Here we are, just after the official start of the holiday season.
It’s that time to be happy, and cheerful, and sing-songy and chipper.
Well, truth be told, the holiday season is tough for many of us even under better political circumstances.
But right now you might be like Amy Siskind (curator of the Weekly List) who thought she was handling the current political climate fairly well … until she learned from her dentist that she had apparently been “screaming in her sleep.”
It’s a stressful time.
But that means it’s all the more important that we intentionally cultivate positivity and not let ourselves wallow in boundless anxiety.
Easy to say, but hard to do. I can relate.
But here’s something you can incorporate into your regular, everyday life that will make you more joyful and effective. (And you don’t need yoga pants to do it.)
I’m not kidding.
We are understandably deadly serious about what’s going on in our country. But humor is a powerful tool for self-care, and a fantastic weapon in its own right. So hear me out.
Let’s review what we’ve already talked about regarding the Resistance’s resilience and humor: people with higher levels of “coping humor” have greater resilience.
- In one study people with higher levels of coping humor “showed little or no increase in negative mood when their number of negative life events increased”.
- Another study showed that end-stage renal disease patients with a greater sense of humor had a 31% higher survival rate.
- And humor has been shown to alleviate tension and encourage social support – a double benefit of sorts.
So there are definite physical benefits to tickling your funny bone. But why does it work?
Well, humor – and having a sense of it – helps us to gain control over an otherwise uncontrollable situation. You might remember that American POWs used humor during the Vietnam War to rebel in ways no other POW group had ever done. Even when their physical situation was entirely out of their control, they took control over their reaction and perspective – and humor played a huge role in that.
In our political environment, it’s easy to feel like you have no control. In fact, my working theory is that our activist stress level increases as our feelings of powerlessness increase. So using humor to take mental control over our situation is not only refreshing; it’s a tool to combat the negative effects of this administration.
Having fun is subversive – and effective. “Authoritarianism is directly incompatible with collective joy; it demands fear, obedience, hierarchy and an obsession with security and preparation for war.”
Smiling in the face of tyranny and dancing in the streets to protest the assault on the First Amendment not only lift our spirits – they lift our message. Activists have long found ways to use humor to draw attention to important issues and to have a good giggle in the meantime. Hey, we’ve all seen the hilarious signs that fellow activists have held up at protests. Why? Because they make us laugh, and they make a point. (Plus, the press loves to cover them!)
So remember that it’s healthy to laugh, it’s good to take control over our lives through humor, and that having fun can be the best way to make our point.
So as you’re having get-togethers with fellow activists over the holiday season, inject a little humor into your party.
- Take a page from Cocktails for Survival or Cocktails for Survival II – Surviving the Trumpocalypse and stir up a Mueller-Mulled Wine or an im-peach cocktail.
- Make it easy on yourselves and fun for your guests and serve cheetos and “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake.”
- Or have a Trumped-up cookie exchange.
Let your imagination run wild.
But whether you’re at a party or all by yourself, try to find and create reasons to laugh about the terrible-awfuls that we face each day.
And don’t feel like you need to apologize for laughing, or that you’re not “doing it right” if you’re not scowling with clenched teeth and fists.
Because you’re not making light of our situation.
You’re taking control of it.
Let’s get to work.
Tuesday: Don’t Let Them Get Away With It.
The Trump administration dropped their (horrifying) climate change report on Friday – the day after Thanksgiving when it could be buried under mounds of leftover mashed potatoes. And of course, other catastrophes have catapulted themselves into the top news slot. It’s going to be up to us to keep this issue front and center, and to push our new Congress into action.
First step is to arm yourself with information. You can read the report here: https://nca2018.globalchange.gov
It’s a bit jarring – and telling – that a government report on climate change sports a cover page of a HILLSIDE ON FIRE, no?
Second step is to find out what your MoC is doing about climate change, and what they plan to do. So charge up that phone!
Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent from ____. I’m calling because I’m very concerned about the impact of climate change. The administration’s recent report makes it really clear that climate change is a problem for our country both from a physical standpoint and from a financial one. There’s not much time left to act. I want to know what – specifically – the Senator/Congress(wo)man plans to do about it in the next session. What is her/his plan? If he/she doesn’t yet have a plan, why not? Isn’t this one of the gravest threats to our nation? Why isn’t this important enough to merit a plan?
Wednesday: Remind Your Network to Get Covered!
Last night I spent an hour on the phone with an insurance company going through plan options because we’re in the midst of open enrollment. Ugh. TMI? Maybe. But it reminded me that we need to remind one another: open enrollment for ACA plans ends on December 15.
It’s really simple to make sure your friends and networks know about open enrollment. Last year there was a big push to do this, but it seems to have flown a bit under the radar this year. (Hmm. Wonder why?)
The result is that signups have lagged compared to last year, and that should concern all of us that care about ensuring people have access to healthcare.
If you want pretty graphics to use, you can head over to a facebook group called the 2019 ACA Signup Project by clicking here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2468746626684978/permalink/2563901430502830/
Or you can just share the link for folks to sign up: https://www.healthcare.gov
Thursday: Finding Creative Ways to Increase Voter Registration
Last week, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown tweeted about his efforts to increase voter registration when he was Ohio’s Secretary of State. What did he do? He asked McDonalds to put voter registration forms on their trays. He said “To this day, if you go to the Board of Elections, you’ll find registration forms with ketchup and mustard stains.”
But you don’t have to be Sherrod Brown or McDonalds to implement tactics like these. I fear sometimes we’ve lost our creative spirit, so let’s get crafty again, shall we?
Take five minutes *right now* to think about who you know locally and what you can help them do to increase voter registration.
Here are some questions to get you started: Do you own a business? Do you have friends who own businesses? Do you often frequent a certain business (like a coffeeshop, or a diner, or an ice cream store – whatever!)?
E-mail them or call them, and ask if they would allow you to put information about online registration or physical voter registration forms in a prominent spot in their business. Stress that it’s nonpartisan.
Then you can either create a nifty little sign to put up in the store that provides a link to the voter registration site in your state, or grab a packet of voter registration forms from your local election authority to drop off at the business. And voila! You’ve just made registering to vote more accessible to people in your neighborhood.
Friday: Check Your Withholding
So, the IRS came out with some interesting news last week – in the GOP’s rush to implement their tax cut, they frog-jumped the normal process and caused some employers to withhold the wrong amount from employee’s paychecks.
Yes, you read that right. Your employer may have withheld the wrong amount from your paycheck based upon inaccurate advice caused by rushed implementation of a tax plan that’s widely seen as a scam. Lovely.
So, it’s worth checking now to make sure your employer has withheld the proper amount. You can go to the IRS’s withholding calculator to double check: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/irs-withholding-calculator
And if your employer didn’t withhold the proper amount and you’re going to have to pony up, that’s worth calling your congresscritter about. They should know how much real pain they’re causing because they wanted a positive press pop.
This is a good one to share with your networks too!
P.S.: Because some of you have asked, yes! I am a copywriter for nonprofits and political causes/candidates. I take a limited number of clients, and with the political cycle ending, I’ll have some openings soon. Visit www.mhornish.com to learn more.
P.P.S.: If you want to help support this work (and help me “keep the lights on,” so to speak), you can do so via Patreon at
https://www.patreon.com/smalldeedsdone or via paypal at https://www.paypal.me/smalldeeds
My deepest gratitude in advance.
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Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together.