Even with all of the horror and sadness in the world, we must still make time to laugh. We need to laugh often, daily, like taking a dose of medicine. It’s something so basic to healing. We all know this. Why don’t we consciously use this tool?

Of course, your sense of humor might be very different from mine. That’s OK.

I keep a “get-well” card in my files:

A doctor lies in a hospital bed while three other doctors (who all look exactly like him) stand at his beside. They are pointing their fingers at him and laughing. The doctor in bed looks angry. The caption reads:

“Laughter is the Best Medicine!”

I have learned to collect things that make me laugh, like this get-well card. I look for new films, DVDs, audio recordings, books and photos. I look on YouTube. I try to be proactive about this. I’m aware of how laughter changes my body chemistry and helps me heal.

Here’s how you can begin your collection:

1) You can ask your friends to help. People LOVE sharing these things. And it’s OK to not like what they give you. You can always return the offering with, “Thank you! Yes, it is funny [uh, to them]. It’s close, but not quite what I’m looking for.”

2) You can visit the library. But here’s the rub—it may not have a humor section! Instead, your eyes may scan the shelves and inadvertently land on copies of The Trial or No Exit. Don’t get distracted! Ask the librarian for help. I once asked a librarian to help me, and she was sending me books for the next six months.

3) Go to a bookstore that has a humor section. If you read the first few pages of a book and realize that you are NOT laughing, then put the book back. For you, that author is a doofus.

Now let’s say you pick up a book, read the first few pages, and you feel a little uncontrollable chuckle thing happening in your body. Let’s say the author of that book you’ve chosen is by—and I’ll just randomly choose a completely random name here—I’ll call him “Dave Barry.” Let’s say this “Dave Barry” has written a few books. I would recommend that you buy only one, and that way you can make an outing of buying another book by “Dave Barry” in the future, while avoiding the pitfall of saturating yourself with too much “Dave Barry” humor all at once.

And don’t let your famous “inner critic” ruin your good time! This is where the rubber meets the road of self-care.