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Last night, I put a kettle of water on for a cup of hot green tea before heading off to bed. If you’re familiar with green tea, you know that it’s best to “catch” the water just before it actually starts to boil. So I stood by the stove, cup in hand – waiting for the water to reach its “green tea” temperature.
As the water slowly heated and brought itself to the proper stage, it reminded me of stress. Sometimes it’s the little things that add up to a boil, isn’t it? The misplaced keys in the morning, the rude server at lunch, the ridiculously slow internet connection, the check that didn’t come in the mail….. again!…. and so on. These small things heap themselves together and cause a slow boil.
We’ve all been there. Even the most laid-back, easy-going person in the world understands stress. Ironically, those of us who are ridiculously laid back may have it worst of all. We tend to allow things to build up until we can’t see in front of us.
The easiest, fastest, and most effective stress reliever in the world is…. drum roll, please…. laughter. That’s it. Laughter is, indeed, the best medicine! The benefits of having a really good laugh are wide-ranging and can even include protection from depression. Laughter can even improve the health of your heart.
Laughter and a sense of humor guard you against the negatives of life that could lead to depression. During the last years of his life, my dad endured horrendous medical procedures, illnesses, hospital visits, surgeries, and setbacks. His illness would have sent most people into the deepest, darkest depths of depression. Fortunately, this man had been born with one of the wickedest senses of humor in the entire history of the world. Somehow, he managed to see the humor in everything. He would have his nurses, doctors, and the rest of us in stitches – all while lying in a hospital bed hooked up to IVs and feeling completely miserable. Daddy went to a pain specialist once who told my mom that the sort of pain my dad had would leave most people in tears. Yet he never felt sorry for himself, never asked “Why me,” and never gave in to pity or depression.
I believed it then and I believe it now – laughter buffered my dad from the cruelty that life can sometimes throw our way. His sense of humor protected him. Had it not been for laughter, his illness would have taken more than just his body. As it was, he kept his joy for life and didn’t allow his sickness to take that away.
Laughter also helps those of us who aren’t fighting a physical battle. Having fun with life keeps your spirits up and helps you feel better about yourself and your life. When you keep your sense of humor, things that bother most people simply don’t faze you.
Laughter is also considered to be healthy for your heart. Research shows that when we laugh, there’s an increase in oxygen-rich blood flow in your body, possibly due to the release of endorphins. This creates a chemical rush that cancels out negative feelings and stress. Other activities that increase endorphins are working out and listening to music.
Adding More Laughter to Your Life
So, you agree with everything you’ve read and there’s only one problem… you don’t feel like laughing?!!? Don’t despair just yet. If what you’re up against (family problems, money worries, school problems, work trouble, sickness) has left you with anything but a smile on your face, I want you to focus on one thing right now: Getting it back. Think of your sense of humor and laughter as being important weapons you’ll need in your fight, because that’s exactly what they are.
Ways to bring laughter into your life:
- Read the comics. Garfield, Dilbert, Rose is Rose, and Peanuts are always good for a smile.
- Turn on a funny sitcom. Roseanne, I Love Lucy, Andy Griffith, Sanford and Son, Friends… whichever tickles your funny bone.
- Either go to a funny movie or rent one. Ask around and see what movies other people recommend. A few that have had me in stitches have been Knocked Up, Kung Fu Panda, Juno, Coming to America, Napoleon Dynamite, Liar Liar, Borat…
- Watch Dane Cook’s “Vicious Cycle” – preferably without food in your mouth. You’ll choke laughing.
- Hang out with someone who never fails to make you laugh.
I’d honestly go so far as to suggest watching a sitcom regularly. Choose at least one and watch it religiously. Bringing more laughter into your life helps you to look at the world on a lighter level and, therefore, puts a smile on your face and laughter in your throat more often. That is always a good thing.
Make each laugh count double,