STRESS KILLS! It is a proven fact that stress can cause or worsen many kinds of illnesses and diseases which is why people, especially those in high-stress occupations, LIKE LAWYERS, must learn how to live with stress or risk falling prey to its consequences.
Different people have different coping mechanisms for stress, some good, like going to the gym, trekking outdoors or traveling, but some people have negative reactions to it such as binge drinking, overeating (Mea Culpa), or even uncontrolled outbursts of anger. Other more serious cases can lead to bouts of depression, which is an entire can of worms in itself.
I personally like travelling abroad or soaking for hours in my hot tub in the mountain. However, this takes, not only considerable expense but, more importantly, time that can rarely be spared.
This is why my everyday “GO TO” palliative for stress has always been humor. I chill out by watching stand-up comedy specials or humorous movies and I like reading funny novels or comics. More importantly, I always try to see the funny side of everyday life and I enjoy laughing at what I see or even at myself. On this, I have to say that I am very lucky to have a wife who shares my sense of humor and it must be genetic because our children also have sharp wits, sometimes too sharp for comfort.
It has been scientifically proven that laughing is healthy. A good laugh relieves physical tension and relaxes your muscles. It boosts your immune system by decreasing stress hormones and increasing immune cells and antibodies. It even improves blood flow and protects your heart. Studies have shown that laughter triggers the release of endorphins in your body, which are hormones from the brain that decrease pain and generally increase your well-being. There has even been a study in Norway that showed that people with a good sense of humor tend to live longer than those who don’t, including patients stricken with cancer.
Of course, I did not know all this when I was much younger, but I have always known that looking at the funny side of life made me feel better and made whatever I was doing easier to do. In fact, I even came to know, early on, that humor helped me in studying and remembering my lessons.
For example, the reason why I can still remember the Water Displacement Theory, a.k.a the “Archimedes Principle”, in computing the volume of submerged objects and buoyancy force is the mental image of an aging Archimedes doing water bombs in a bathtub and then, with eyes wide open with realization, shouting “Eureka!” Who would ever think that physics or mathematics could be funny?
I brought this all the way through my studies in accounting and even when I was in law school. I have said it before that my favorite way of remembering landmark decisions of the Supreme Court was to come up with funny names for these cases like “Ang Lalaki sa Kisame” for the case of People vs Mangulabnan where the Supreme Court ruled that the death of the man hiding in the ceiling from indiscriminate shots fired by a robber who did not know he was there still amounted to “Robbery with Homicide.”
There was also the case of Chi Ming Choi vs. Court of Appeals, a case for declaration of nullity of marriage, where, in defending himself against his wife’s assertion of impotence, Chi Ming Choi’s medical examination showed that he had a VERY small penis, so I named the case “Much Ado About A Small Thing.”
Even today, I still try to inject a lot of humor in the way I teach my law subject. I only hope my students will remember the lessons more than the jokes.
It is not too difficult to look at the funny side of life. Being a lawyer, most people would expect that everything we do is serious, solemn and stern, but this is not true at all because funny things happen in court and in our law offices every day.
A lawyer, who was engaged by the children of an aging plaintiff, apparently with early signs of senility, was conducting an interview with the old lady prior to presenting her in court and he asked her “In handling this case for you, what was your agreement with your lawyer?” After the question was translated, she answered in Cebuano “Abogado? Wala man koy abogado!” which prompted the lawyer to retort “Ako diay!?” to which the old lady curtly replied “Kinsa man diay ka?!” It was good that this happened in the office and not in court.
During the trial of a physical injuries case, the witness who saw the mauling of the victim was asked “After he was mauled what was the condition of the victim?” As interpreted in Cebuano, the question was “Pagkahuman ug kulata sa biktima, naunsa man siya?” to which the witness immediately replied “Ah, sikwate murag gulay!” which the interpreter immediately interpreted as “HE WAS CHOCOLATED LIKE A VEGETABLE!” to the dismay of the judge who immediately said “NO! NO! THAT IS NOT IT”.
The thing is that one must always be ready to see the humor in everyday living and from what we see around us. We, Filipinos, are especially good at poking fun at everything. Where else would you see a restaurant named “Cooking ng Ina Mo!” and where a competitor across the road would later name his own restaurant “Cooking ng Ina Mo Rin!”
Sometimes we are funny without even meaning to be. I’m not sure if they are still there but there used to be a tire store along Quezon Boulevard named “Titing Tire” that was almost next to a junk shop named “Kiking Second Hand.”
If I will ever open my own restaurant, I will certainly name it “KAHIT SAAN EATERY” where the specialty of the house will be called “KAHIT ANO” for those people who always seem to be undecided where, and what, they want to it.
As you may have guessed, my advice for those living under stress is simply “BEAT STRESS, BE FUNNY, LIVE LONGER!