This book deserves more than five stars for its ability to convey life-saving advice from experience that everyone will respect.
Every life will be touched with pain. Whenever that occurs, I'd Rather Laugh is probably the best source of advice you will find.
I'd Rather Laugh is remarkably good on how to overcome overwhelming personal pain. Although the libraries and book stores are filed with such books, rarely do their authors come to the subject from having survived tidal waves of pain. Ms. Richman brings just that perspective. As a result, you can believe her and act on what she tells you. That's as much as anyone can do for another person in pain. The rest is up to the suffering person.
Ms. Richman's life has had more than its share of downs as compared to ups. Her father was killed when she was eight, and her mother refused to ever tell her what had happened to him. He just went away, was all she was told. This made her pain and confusion worse and caused them to fester for many years. Her mother's reaction to this loss was to stop taking good care of her two daughters. Her mother was soon suffering from mental illness. "All my childhood I wished my mother had died instead of father." Imagine the guilt Ms. Richman must have felt about that feeling!
To get out of the house, Ms. Richman married at 19. Her mother was soon hospitalized for her mental problems. Her husband turned out to be a gambling addict who lost all of the family's money. During those years, she became a recluse -- never leaving her apartment for 11 years. The panic attacks were so extreme, she couldn't touch the doorknob to the apartment. She baby sat everyone's children in the building so they would run errands for her, like taking her children to the pediatrician and getting groceries.
The ultimate blow came after she divorced. He older son was killed in a traffic accident when he was 29. The severe pain of this was worse than all the other losses combined.
My heart was literally in pain for this poor woman as I read the book. But I came away more impressed with her courage than with her pain. The way she has kept fighting back is wonderful.
How did she do it?
First, she wanted to overcome the pain. She assures us that the pain never goes away, you just integrate into your life in a new way.
Second, she found that intensifying the pain could eventually help her find it ridiculous and cause her to laugh. The laughter was like an analgesic for her soul. Eventually, she found more ways to laugh.
Third, she began helping other people. Her methods seem to work for them, too.
At the end of the book, she outlines what works best . . . mostly ways to shift your mood by changing your surroundings, associations, and focus.
There is a very nice foreword to the book from her friend, Rosie O'Donnell, which puts Ms. Richman in context. She is a truly outrageous person and a great friend to have. In the process, you realize that it's okay to give yourself permission to be outrageous. It's like taking off a straitjacket that allows you to move your emotions and your soul again.
Ms. Richman is a comic genius. If the subject weren't so sad, her one-liners would have you following in the aisles.
I plan to follow up on some of her advice, even though I'm not in pain. I think it will be a lot of fun to drive around with my "plastic-glasses-eyebrows-nose-mustache" mask on with a big cigar dangling from my mouth . . . and wait for the unsuspecting to see me at a stop light.
Seriously, she points out that anyone can be happy when things are going well. Even if you are not in emotional pain, I suggest you read this book to prepare yourself for when you are. Also, be generous with sharing this book with those who are suffering now. That will be its best use.
May your life be filled with much good health, happiness, peace, and prosperity . . . even after you suffer a painful loss!