He who laughs, lasts. — Anonymous
There is more than enough adversity and stress in the world and in our lives, but probably not enough laughter. Think about your most recent and other good laughs, and a smile will appear on your face. Laughter is good for us at any age or stage in life.
Studies have shown laughter can help reduce stress and pain, lower blood pressure, elevate mood, boost the immune system, improve brain functioning and protect the heart. It can connect us to others — we laugh 30 times more with others than alone — foster instant relaxation, and make us feel good and be more open to others.
Author Missy Buchanan (“Living With Purpose in a Worn Out Body: Spiritual Encouragement for Older Adults,” available as an e-book or paperback for less than $7 USD) recounted how much she loved visiting her mother in a senior residence at lunchtime. A group of tablemates, all limited by multiple medical conditions and disabilities, told each other story after story and laughed their way through their meal. That caused other diners to brighten up and enjoy their meal more, too.
Yes, laughter is good medicine and it is contagious. Think about it. Even when we’re alone, when something funny tickles us, first our face lights up and we smile; then we laugh, sometimes out loud; and occasionally we need to dry our eyes and regain our composure. Often our first thought is to share that experience by calling or e-mailing someone or passing it along in person.
Speaking of e-mail, many of us regularly receive jokes and funny stories and pictures via the Internet. We may wonder who has time to think these things up and start them on their way around town, the nation and sometimes the world. Fortunately, people do make time for humor, even in our busy and stressful world. If we would like to laugh more, how can we make that happen?
We can spend more time with people who make us laugh and who enjoy our funny lines and stories. Include more humor in our entertainment — reading, films, radio, television. Think back to funny experiences and swap them with others. Revisit the same image or story, and discover even more nuances that will tickle your ribs.
A travel incident reminded us of the power of telling and retelling a great story that is guaranteed to crack up audience after audience, even the same audience more than once. One of our tour members in Istanbul, Turkey, literally jumped onto the wrong departing train from a station. When it was discovered that he was missing, the tour guide jumped into action to get that train stopped and to retrieve the missing tour member.
All was well that ended well, and the unexpected outcome was a wildly funny story told and retold. Tour members kept opinionating about which was funnier: the tour guide telling the story in Turkish to the hotel staff, or one of the tour members imitating the tour guide telling the story in Turkish. In both instances, people literally were falling off their seats.