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How to Humor Your Stress: Loretta LaRoche (Transcript)

Loretta LaRoche at TEDxNewBedford

Following is the full transcript of stress expert and humorist Loretta LaRoche’s talk titled “How to Humor Your Stress” at TEDxNewBedford conference.

Loretta LaRoche – TEDx Talk TRANSCRIPT

Well, I’ve been teaching stress management for a good 30 years. And I have to tell you people are going insane. It’s just unbelievable; isn’t it?

I mean I think about my origins. I’m a Sicilian girl from Brooklyn, and was born into this Italian family with a lot of drama — lot of drama — I mean you know, it’s like an opera. You take the garbage out. You got a oh, taken the garbage out… and they got to kiss everybody, because you might not come back. Who knows?

But the word stress didn’t even exist then. Nobody — nobody talked about stress. It was depression, it was World War II. My grandmother had three sons in the army and she was always suffering, because of that… Sicilian martyrdom. Every time I looked at her: Oh suffer.

But we laughed a lot. You know what else we did? We ate a lot. We ate. And when we were eating we practiced to eat again. We talked about eating all the time.

We had some fun amidst the angst that was going on. And people seemed to just roll with the punches. I mean they accepted the reality and they had a community of people that helped them. They were called neighbors. Do you remember them?

Nobody comes to your house anymore with a sausage or a meatball. Because you know what if your LDL is too high, or something might go wrong, you know and who are these people anyway? You see them coming to the door… oh, I don’t want to see any people. I have my show to watch tonight. The one with neighbors in it.

I don’t ever remember my grandmother standing in front of the sink going on mud on to me. I’m so stressed. I can’t take it no more. I got to go to my spin class. Maybe I forgot my kale smoothie this morning. And I don’t know where my Fitbit is.

We have gotten to a place where we don’t know how to see humor in our lives, because we don’t have those people stopping by. The characters that were once in my life that provided me with historical references that I could put in my books.

We don’t have those meals together like we often did, where we talked and laughed and shared stories. And if you acted up, huh lots of luck, you got told what’s wrong with you. And I went to Catholic school. I had the Sisters of Perpetual Mood Disorder. Trust me they didn’t let you get away with anything.

And you know that’s all part of understanding how to humor your stress; isn’t it? To have people around to guide you, to laugh with you, to make light of things here and there, instead of all this drama we go around with now; don’t we?

There are a lot of drama, everybody’s got to tell you what’s happening. Facebook is full of stories: Oh you should see what happened. I was in traffic. Oh yes here is a picture of me going through the E-ZPass. This is pathetic, folks. Pathetic. Isn’t it?

We don’t have a life anymore because our life we have become human doings, we’re no longer human beings. We have to tell everybody we meet what we’re doing. That’s why we’re so stressed out. Everybody we meet, you know… you know what I’m doing.

“Do you know how busy I am? I am so busy I don’t know what to do.”

“Well maybe you should shut up, maybe that would help. You shut up.”

But now the person you’ve told, hey they have to ramp it up, they got to win this contest for God’s sake. So they have to say you think you’re busy, you should see how busy I am.

Now you have nowhere to go but your physical ailments. You’ll have to share them. Well my back hurts, my front hurts, my side and I don’t go to the bathroom very much anymore.

And I have to tell you that the more stressed you are, the more you’re going to need a laxative. We are one of the few countries that I’ve been in many places in the world that have so many laxatives. Why do you think that is? Look at people’s faces and you’ll find out.

People walk around on things all day long, squeezing and squeezing and squeezing. By the time they go to bed at night they look like dead parrots.

We have problems with insomnia. More people are medicated now taking sleeping medications. We have more people on antidepressants than any other place in the world. We even have children on antidepressants, because we can’t leave them alone either. God forbid they should go out and play.

Go out and play? What are you serious? I’m going to make an app that has a squirrel on it so the kids can see that. I’ll probably make a fortune. You can’t even ride your bike up and down anymore, you got to wear a NASA astronaut suit. You got to wash yourself with [Peral]. You got to have a healthy snack. No wonder the kids are stressed.

I used to drink out of the hose. And I’m still alive. I even fell off my bike lots of times. It’s kind of sad, isn’t it? Kids don’t know how to be kids anymore. Human beings don’t know how to be human beings anymore, because we’re all stressed. It’s become a metaphor for existence; hasn’t it?

So I just want to start by taking you on a journey perhaps to de-stress with a simple little survey. How many of you have been stressed the past week? Raise your hand. Past several weeks? Past month? Several months? Several years? Lifetime?

Now when we’re stressed, what do we do? We like to tell people and we form groups. Global Whining Groups. We get together in our offices, in our home, whatever. Some people, before they leave the house, will tell their family I’m going to be tired when I get back. This is a form of pre-suffering. You’re not tired yet but you will be.

Now my suggestion is when you’re stressed like this, give yourself a standing ovation. Ask for one. Maybe when you go in your office, you walk in and you say “I came in. I’d like a standing ovation.” Why not?

When you go home tonight, some of you have already made yourself crazy by thinking about what went on while you weren’t there.

What’s the difference? Something went on. When you walk in the door tonight, go in and say “I’m back. I could have gone someplace else. You’re damn lucky I came home. I’d like a standing ovation.”

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