I’ll be honest. It’s hard to write something humorous right now when the world feels anything but. In particular, the Las Vegas shooting and the devastation in Puerto Rico weigh heavily on my mind and my heart. To write something purely humorous right now would feel disingenuous for me.

Humor, however, does have a role in these times. In its proper form, humor points us towards joy. It remains a constant comfort as well as a constant challenge for us: How do we preserve this part of ourselves that is so integral to who we are, while also keeping it appropriate to what is happening in the world and pointed towards a greater happiness? How do we keep humor fun and bright without also being contemptuous, crude, or narrow-minded? God knows we don’t need any more of those latter qualities in our lives.

I think the answer is to keep laughing when we can, and to do so at the right things. We need to keep reacting to life’s natural humor when it presents itself. We need to let the world affect us deeply and enormously—when horrible, unthinkable events occur, but also (and perhaps more importantly) when warm and beautiful and funny things happen.

So, at the risk of falling off the pedestal I already seem to have built for my preachy self, here are my Five Ways to Laugh in Difficult Times:

  1. Get yourself some Laffy Taffy jokes, read them, and laugh accordingly. Sometimes, when you’re feeling down, there’s nothing funnier than a pure, harmless, stupid little one liner. Extra points if the joke involves a pun.
  2. Laugh at yourself. Not spitefully, or because you’re overly self-deprecating. Laugh at the little things you do. Laugh at forgetting where you just placed your keys, laugh at putting your shirt on backwards, laugh at grabbing two spoons instead of a fork and knife at the dining hall. Don’t take yourself too seriously. The world is serious enough on its own.
  3. Laugh until you cry. Don’t let something like an imperfect world stop you from dissolving into breathless tears because of a passing hilarious comment that your best friend makes on the way home from class. Just let the laughter rain down, and don’t give a hoot if anyone thinks you’re a hot mess. Pro tip for makeup-wearing folks: if you’re going to commit to this, waterproof mascara works like a charm.
  4. Laugh at something that catches you off guard. Did your friend walk in unannounced while you were dancing to OG T-Pain? Did her presence shock you to the point of you falling and knocking over a tower of precariously stacked Ramen noodle packages in the corner of your room? And did it cause you to laugh out of sheer surprise? If this happened to you, it means you have a good grasp on laughing at the right things. It also means you’re having a week eerily similar to my own.
  5. Laugh out of joy. When you hear or see humor not meant to direct you towards joy (i.e., crass jokes about sensitive issues, politicians retweeting GIFs of golf balls hitting ex-presidential candidates, etc.) don’t give it the satisfaction of your laughter. Laffy Taffy deserves your laughter. Cruel people don’t.

Stay joyful, folks.

Lacey Silvestri is a senior English and history major who would like you to know that the T in T-Pain stands for Tallahassee, as in the Florida capitol. Thank her for her wisdom at lsilvest@nd.edu.