“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 that 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 in paperback or e-reader) recounted how much she loved visiting her mother in a senior residence during lunchtime. A group of table mates, all limited by multiple medical conditions and physical disabilities, told each other story after story and uproariously laughed their way through their meal. Their uninhibited laughter unintentionally caused residents throughout the dining room to brighten up and enjoy their meal probably more than they otherwise would have.
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 emailing someone or anticipating our earliest opportunity to share it in person.
Speaking of email, 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 may enjoy our funny lines and stories. Include more humor in our entertainment – reading, films, radio and 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. On a recent tour in a foreign country, one of the tour members confusedly and literally jumped onto the wrong departing train. 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, to boot, the unexpected outcome was a wildly funny story told and retold by various participants at the next night’s lodgings. Each time someone would remember and recount another amazing or hilarious element in the unfolding, hair-raising event, the audience would break up all the more. Tour members kept opinionating about whether the tour guide telling the story in a foreign language to the hotel staff, or one of the tour members imitating the tour guide’s account in the foreign language, was drop dead funnier. In both instances, the laughers were almost falling off their seats.