“Humor is the great thing. The minute it crops up, all our hardnesses yield, all our irritations and resentments flit away.” ~Mark Twain
When was the last time you laughed–that doubled over, belly shaking, tear jerking surrender to feeling good laugh? You know–that thing kids do and we need to do everyday. It touches your very soul. And it’s fun. So why don’t we deliberately pursue laughter or create things to laugh at instead of waiting until we happen to see or hear something funny? Maybe we’re just so caught up in the burdens of daily living that we forget that valuable gift that could literally change our life.
I think most people know laughter is good for you, but maybe not to the extent it’s vital to physical, mental, and emotional health. Laughter has a long line of benefits. It exercises stomach muscles, lowers blood pressure, gets the heart pumping, reduces pain, aids the immune system, helps memory and sleep, reduces stress, calms anxiety, triggers dopamine, and more and more. It’s also contagious and brings people together. Even smiling affects us in positive ways. What a happy pill for good health.
Maybe you’ve heard of Norman Cousins who wrote The Anatomy of an Illness in which he documented his successful journey from terminal illness to health using laughter for healing. He left the hospital and created funny scenarios for laughter, like Groucho Marx movies. And he spent much of each day laughing. His case contributed to alternative medicine and inspired research into the benefits of laughter in illness and pain management.
You don’t have to wait until you feel like laughing to laugh. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America use various forms of laughter therapy. One exercise to cause laughter is to put your fingertips on your cheekbones, chest or lower abdomen and make “ha ha” or “hee hee” sounds until you feel vibrations through your body. I’ve tried it, and it really works. Had me laughing in no time. They also use Laughter Yoga in which several laughter exercises are incorporated into a yoga discipline.
God must have known I’d need a sense of humor and the ability to laugh, because I’ve been aware of that gift my whole life. It has brought me through some tough times, and I’m still learning how to use it more effectively. I’d like to share a poem I wrote in 2001 about laughter.
Although I hurt a lot inside,
I sometimes joke and find a laugh.
It comes from yet another place
Along my weary path.
It usually comes up suddenly,
And takes its rightful place.
It stays around a little while
And fills the empty space.
Laughter drives away the tears,
And calms the hurt below.
It frees my soul to feel alive
Where I think angels go.
God knew I’d need this useful tool
To lift me high above the dark,
So I can see the truth of life,
And find that vital spark.
Thank you, Lord, for quips and giggles,
For making light of strife and pain,
For finding fun in spite of trial
To find my joyful way again.
So don’t wait for something funny to turn up. Create your laughs–everyday–everyday. Watch some funny movies, listen to music. The Chipmunk Song always makes me laugh. Do the “ha ha” and “hee hee” thing. And feel health, peace, and joy happily moving through your body, mind, and spirit. Picture your inner child having fun laughing out loud, rejoicing in life. Celebrate yourself with a good hearty laugh.
I wish you the joy of laughter in all your days.
Marilyn Fowler, Author/Writer
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