How do you spell relief?

A therapist, a comic and a youth minister walk into a bar. The bartender says: “What can I get ya?” The therapist says: “An emotional rescue.” The comic says: “A gangster’s paradise.” The minister says: “A holy roller.” The bartender says: “Give me a minute to find the recipes. I’m not really a bartender. I’m an out-of-work attorney general waiting on the pee tapes. Once they are out, I’m golden.”

Ba-da-bum.

I will not quit my day job.

Speaking of day jobs, it’s hard to focus when the world is falling apart faster than men’s rights activists can file discrimination lawsuits for not being able to attend women-only “Wonder Woman” screenings with our gal, Gal Gadot. In between fighting for justice and vanquishing enemies, how does the singular superhero shift into a lower gear so as not to take her work home?

The weight of the world is heavy. How do we lighten up to meet our daily requirements without becoming Debbie Downers, Stabby Stans or Angry Adelaides? 

Coping skills are essential to healthy relationships, Damon Cobble, a family therapist said, when I asked how people can keep it together in the face of adversity. Cobble runs Dare to Change, LLC, his private practice and is a counselor at Minor Daniels Academy. He said, “Everything starts at home.”

If kids learn empathy, sympathy and to respect others’ points of view, it can help build relationships and teach them how to engage in appropriate give and take, Cobble said. But when kids see only self-interest and hostility, they’ll never learn to talk to people.

“For therapy to work, you have to be a part of the process,” Cobble said. Otherwise you’re dancing solo and may never learn the steps to engage with a partner. Once you know the moves, though, you can differentiate between “those who genuinely care and those who are speaking through megaphones,” Cobble said.

Trade a megaphone for a microphone, and you may get a comic — “dark, demented, depressed people who are never satisfied and always complaining,” said Holly Lynnea, who is one. A comic, I mean, not a depressed person, because she has no time for that, thank you.

Lynnea kicked negativity, like a bad joke, to the curb. “It doesn’t help me feel good. It’s not a motivator. If it doesn’t serve me I am not being bothered by it all. I call it my walk away game. It’s so strong I will walk away from you in a heartbeat.”

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I asked her how we can be good for anybody or anything if we stay stirred up all the time? She said being agitated perpetuates the problem and often plays into the hands of would-be instigators. She is so “tall in her faith,” she said, even reading comments on social media doesn’t faze her. “Sometimes I do because there are teachable moments.”

“Everybody’s a gangster on Facebook, until it’s time to start fighting.”

Lynnea uses humor to defuse situations, and believes it’s important to laugh. “If you miss the opportunity to laugh you are doing yourself a disservice. It’s free.”

“In comedy, what they say is you want to make someone laugh within the first 30 seconds or it might be a bad set,” Lynnea said. Apply that to your own life wherever you may be — or whomever you may look like.

“People say I look like famous people,” Lynnea said. “Serena Williams, Oprah, Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan, Cha Cha Chaka Kahn. I’ve just come to realize people don’t know that many black people. I feel like somebody’s gonna call me Morgan Freeman soon, and that’s gonna be their last move.”

Moves, whether dance or last, internal or external, may be good for the soul, at least, said the Rev. Lauren Jones Mayfield. “When I’m centered and still enough to pay attention to my breath, the swirling chaos around us feels less penetrating,” said Mayfield, who meditates and runs. 

Mayfield is associate pastor of Young Adults and Mission at Highland Baptist Church. When we spoke, she was fresh from a field trip to youth church camp. Mayfield was awed by the commitment of women there, who are between 60 and 80 and make lunch for the kids every day. 

Mayfield said she is “reading about unsuspecting heroes, who in the midst of going to lunch every day take time to look up and, if they see something is not good, they change the way they go to work.” Coincidentally, her 4 year old “thinks he has super powers. He is learning to swim without wings with his face in the water.”

As for me, I’m keeping my floaties, at least until 2018 when it may be safe to go back into the water. Sink or swim. Laugh or cry. Remember, it’s all about the attitude. Cultivate well.

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