Have we forgotten that we need to laugh? These days especially!
We need to giggle and guffaw and wheeze so hard we almost wet ourselves. Or laugh until we cry. Just as we were given tears to work through our grief, we were blessed as humans with the ability to laugh, for so many reasons.
Laughter helps us find perspective. It helps us see even tragic moments with a bittersweet recognition of the human condition. We can feel so awful at the moment and then we find ourselves laughing, supposedly inappropriately. And yet, this incongruent laughter can be such a valuable release.
This is not the first time I have written about laughter and it won’t be the last. Laughter is SO important. Laughter connects us to others. Laughter makes us lighten up and take ourselves less seriously. Laughter exposes us when we can really benefit from being caught with our metaphoric pants down. Laughter beckons humility.
My beloved soul sister Joy of blessed memory and I would laugh hysterically when we would catch each other in a fixated moment. Oops, we were re-playing our old stories like a broken record. Oops, we were embarrassed about something we were trying to hide and it was seen by us both BIG TIME. We loved those moments of Oops recognition shared in deep trust and love, and the learning around those emotionally bare-naked moments stuck with us as deep learning, as we laughed and laughed together about ourselves.
My parents and I laughed all the time as a form of healing. I remember, the night before a life and death surgery my mom was about to have the next day, she and my dad and I went to a french foreign film that was tragedy at its best. Lots of painful loss and death. All three of us were sobbing and blubbering and then we would look at each other and laugh wildly. My dad would whisper- “Great movie choice, Guys!!” It helped us get through the night and the next morning because we repressed nothing. My mom made it through three consecutive surgeries and a long time in intensive care, and even in her hospital room we would still always try to find a way to laugh. Fast forward many years to the very end of her life, and even with advanced dementia, my mom never lost her sense of humor. We loved and laughed until her last conscious breath.
Laughter with my clients brings awareness, as we experience sadness and laughter as two sides to the same coin.
“To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain and play with it.” – Charlie Chaplin
Mayo clinic published an article entitled Stress Relief from Laughter? It’s no joke!
Here’s an excerpt: “A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but data is mounting about the positive things laughter can do.
When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:
- Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
- Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
- Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
- Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. By contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
- Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.
- Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
- Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier.”
So, I suggest whole-heartedly that you schedule in regularly watching funny movies and TV shows, reading funny books, sharing funny stories with your friends and family, and go to YouTube or Comedy Central and watch some great comedians. I bet you will find yourself in a much more balanced place.
“Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution—these can lift at a colossal humbug—push it a little—weaken it a little, century by century, but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” – Mark Twain