When was the last time you had a real belly laugh, where your sides hurt, and tears rolled down your face? You laughed until you got hiccups. It felt so good. If you’re like most it’s been a while.
Where is the wise humor of Erma Bombeck, Bob Hope, Carol Burnett? Or Groucho Marx with his one-liners: Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves? Sorry I just laughed.
Life, and I do not say this in jest, is a serious matter right now. We almost feel guilty if we’re caught laughing. What will people think? Why is she laughing when things are so unsettling? How could she be so thoughtless?
I come from a family that enjoys laughter. We laugh at ourselves, each other, old photographs, family memories. I can't say we never laughed at another person, or said anything irreverent. We did - until we heard a reprimand from mother that usually ended with ‘God bless the mark!” Which meant be careful what you say or God will – almost certainly – heap that same affliction on you.
Given the grim daily news, where do we find something to smile about or a reason to laugh out loud? Pull out the family album. Call a sibling or friend and trip down memory lane with them. Watch the antics of young children. These are our connectors; they give us reasons, and permission if needed, to enjoy laughter.
A good laugh is relaxing, decreases stress, releases endorphins – the body’s own feel-good chemicals, even temporarily relieves pain and creates a sense of well-being. Some doctors agree if they could bottle laughter, it would be a magnificent healer.
We’ve all had days when we simply could not laugh. Perhaps we lost a loved one. Maybe we received bad news. So many things can knock the spirit out of us. Our challenge is to not let those days become our every day. To heed the poets, song writers, and physicians - and make a joyful noise as soon and as often as possible.
The sound of joyful laughter is still good medicine. Let’s hope for and seek out reasons to increase our dosage of this much needed elixir.
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