Laughter is one of life’s greatest gifts.
Doesn’t it feel great when you laugh so hard you cry?
Making people laugh has always been an interest of mine. Even in first grade I received an award for being the Wittiest… (See, you are laughing right now, just thinking about me in first grade! No, I WON’T share pictures!)
I’m lucky. It has been hard to take life very seriously growing up in my house. Both my parents have an incredible sense of humor. My Dad is always sharing his unique and humorous perspective on life, and my Mom is the absolute queen of practical jokes. Thanks to them, my sense of humor and ability to laugh at life has always been a saving grace for me. This is a very good thing, as I have often leaned on laughter when times are hard.
A few years ago my niece was diagnosed with leukemia (APML) and was admitted to Children’s Hospital. It was an intense time for our family, but somehow we found ways to laugh, and bring joy into the situation. Other families and the nurses on the floor often remarked about our continued laughter and it brought a lot of healing to the oncology unit.
I remember how one family shared their feelings with us: “Hearing the laughter coming from your room the night we admitted our young son gave us hope that we would be ok, and that we could get through this.” I am so humbled by that memory, and so proud of how our family persevered through a tragic situation and thrived in the midst of a great challenge.
Of course, I’m not always a bucket of giggles. Even my legendary sense of humor can take a hiatus sometimes, and I can take myself too seriously. The little details of life can catch up with me and I get so grumpy. Isn’t that the worst feeling? But then my husband or my daughter can do something so endearing that I crack up – and am reminded once again how blessed I am. Keeping a balanced perspective helps me to laugh at myself and at life.
Is laughter is the best medicine? Many healers think so. Here are some health benefits to laughter – You decide.
• Better Hormone Balance – Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), dopamine and growth hormone. It also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins.
• Stress Reduction- Laughter can help you get a good internal workout, moving lymph and stagnant energy that may cause extra tension. It literally helps you see the sunny side of life.
• Increased connectivity with friends and family – Laughing heightens our good mood and makes people around us feel good; which releases fear and allows people to bond. It is easier to give and receive love when our hearts are open.
• Improved immunity – Laughter increases the number of antibody-producing cells we have working for us, and enhances the effectiveness of T cells. Isn’t it amazing how joy can fight sickness?
Is laughter the best medicine? Well it looks that way to me… AND it is free. (That is a nice added bonus.)
Want more laughter in your life? Consider these tips.
• Take a break from your technology – Be fully aware and in the moment when you are with others. ( The smartphones are SO addicting, but you can kick the habit.) Being fully “present” will keep you paying attention and open you up to humorous opportunities.
• Don’t take yourself so seriously – Carol Burnett once said “Comedy is just tragedy plus time.” Ask yourself… “If I had one day left to live, is this worth worrying about?”
• Watch funny movies – This is one of my favorites. There are some great classics that can really get you busting a gut! Put together a library of movies you love and let them work their magic. Laugh out loud, even when no one is watching – or share the giggles with a close friend or family member. (Yes, I’m prescribing movie night.)
• Spend time with kids – Kids say the darnedest things. They have a fresh, unique perspective that really can catch you off guard and give your laugh muscles a good workout. Trust me.
These are just a few off the top of my head… perhaps you have some ideas too. Please share, so others can grow from your experience.
Laugh out loud… Just for the health of it!