Stress & Anxiety


Need an effective therapy for attention deficit? Try humor. Set a minimum daily requirement for laughter — and exceed it.

ADHD Adults: Laugh Your Way Through ADHD
ADHD Adults: Laugh Your Way Through ADHD

So there I was, pushing the button, again and again, on my electronic car key, so the horn would beep and I could find my car in the parking deck. Press button, listen. There! The sound was coming from the left. But no. It was lower, on a different level. Where was it? Fourteen minutes later, sweat dripping, mind racing, I fell into the front seat, exhausted. Then I laughed.

Sometimes you have to laugh, so you don’t cry! Here are my thoughts on smiling more and crying less:

A sense of humor keeps our ADHD in perspective. So what if you burn a roast or shatter a teacup? It’s only a teacup, even if it’s Aunt Rosie’s antique teacup from India. In the scheme of life, that’s the small stuff. And we all know what you do about the small stuff: Don’t sweat it.

Taking a more positive approach to your ADHD is about not taking yourself too seriously. Self-absorption is a common ADHD trait. And though your missteps may seem like a big deal at the time, they are low on the list of others’ priorities. You are a bit player in their lives. So take center stage in your own life, and be like those angels who fly because they “take themselves lightly.”

A giggle here and there lets you forgive yourself for those inevitable “I was late again!” moments. It’s always better to laugh at yourself than to suffer the indignity of being ridiculed. Laughing at your silly ADHD mistakes gives other people permission to laugh with you instead of condemning or judging you.

[Free Handout: The Funny Side of Living with ADHD]

I’m not advocating that you play the clown on the outside while you’re crying on the inside. Your feelings deserve your attention. Don’t discount them to put up a brave front or to pretend that you don’t mind if your coworkers roll their eyes when you volunteer for another interesting project. You can do both: Take your ADHD seriously and laugh at your ADHD-ish self, too!

Lead with a laugh. Psychotherapist Virginia Satir found that human beings thrive when they give and receive a minimum of four hugs a day. The same can be said for laughter. A good belly laugh is like aerobics for our brains: It shakes off the dismal “blues” and allows us to act as if life is good. And then, shockingly, life takes the hint and follows suit.

We ADDers need a Minimum Daily Requirement for laughter. Toddlers laugh about 300 times a day. Adults laugh only 17 times a day. Who’s happier? It seems that adults with ADHD could at least move into the high 80s, don’t you think? Just as long as we don’t have to keep a log or write it down!

Set yourself up to smile. Years ago, I went to a lecture at which the speaker played a clip from the old TV show I Love Lucy. It was the episode that features Lucy selling Vitameatavegamin on a television commercial. After 10 takes, the alcohol-laced syrup that she is hawking and sampling makes her a little tipsy. The resulting clip is hilarious. “Do you pop out at parties? Are you unpoopular?” asks a sodden Lucy. It makes me laugh out loud.

[You Know You Have ADHD When…]

So I bought a copy of the episode, a wise investment of $20. When I’m laughter-deficient, I load it in the DVD player. Or I watch it on YouTube. Laughing feels good. I don’t need “laughter clubs.” The word “snickers” makes me giggle.

We with ADHD are funny. When I trip over my words or forget the name of my children, I have to laugh. Who does that? A woman with ADHD, that’s who. That’s who I am. Lovable and laughter-ready.

Meeting the quota. This joke will get me closer to my MDR of 80-something laughs: “I got a cookbook, but I never cooked anything from it. All the recipes started out the same way: ‘Take a clean dish….'”

[Laugh It Up!]