A lunchtime learning session with Deb Filler
Laughter is the best healer – just ask Deb Filler.
The Jewish comedienne presented a lunchtime learning session to a packed room at Ko Awatea on Wednesday 18 February, and soon had Counties staff laughing with her hilarious stories and politically incorrect jokes.
But behind the humour is a serious message. For Filler, humour brings resilience in the face of stress. “Never let hardship make you bitter,” Filler cautions. “Keep the laughter in your life. Love, laughter and humour are the positive forces in the world.”
Filler’s family inspired her philosophy. She was born into a family of holocaust survivors who suffered a tremendous amount of stress. Her father’s entire family were killed, except for one brother; seventy-two relatives in all. He lost his home, his country and the life he knew, and spent three years imprisoned in the Nazi death camp, Auschwitz. Despite his horrendous ordeal, he refused to become embittered. A baker by trade, he baked bread side-by-side with starving German prisoners of war to alleviate the hunger that followed the end of the war. Yet his experience left its scars on him, and as a child Filler would sing funny songs in nonsense Yiddish to help relieve his emotional burdens. Her performances made her normally uptight father laugh, and Filler was inspired by the difference that made to him.
Her story has lessons for all of us. We all face challenges in our lives, and healthcare can be a particularly stressful environment. Maintaining a positive attitude and keeping sight of the lighter side of life helps us to keep stresses in perspective, and acts as a shield against the worries, pressures and hardships of life, and against the constant litany of disasters and bad news the media bombard us with.
“Share a joke,” advises Filler. “Cultivate a sense of the ridiculous, and it will really, really help you to make light of bad situations. Also remember that good things can come out of bad ones – imagine you’re stuck in the middle of the night in the pouring rain with a flat tyre. That’s a great story to tell your friends tomorrow!”
Other tips you can try are to watch your favourite TV comedy or read a funny book; share stories; remember that tomorrow is a new day, so visualise having a great one; and be grateful for all the positive things in your life that we sometimes overlook. Filler also teaches a workshop every February at Unitec for people who need a helping hand to return the laughter to their lives.
Deb Filler performs her show I Lost it in Kiev at the Maidment Theatre on March 13-14.