Monday, May 10, 2010

“Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects.” Arnold Glasow

Occasionally life overflows with stuff that’s not so funny, but honestly I think the only way to handle it is to laugh. I suppose there really is a choice. The easiest thing to do is to go into a total funk and stay there until the fog lifts. The more challenging choice is to find the humor and laugh.

We’ve spent a lot of time with sick family members lately. It’s enough to make anyone take up bad habits. I’ve seen the inside of more hospitals in the last three months than in the rest of my life. Every time I say, “Surely nothing else can happen,” it does. I’m not saying that any more.

In the 1970’s laughter therapy originated when studies showed the improvement of health with increased exposure to humor and laughter. Laughter can decrease blood pressure, trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain killer, and boost an overall sense of well being. You honestly can go into laughter therapy so you can be shown how to laugh. I think you can save the money you’d spend on therapy and go to Walmart and watch people. If you can’t find humor there, I’m not sure you can be helped.

Last week Jim and I were in the lobby area of the retirement community where my dad, aunt and uncle live. Every week free blood pressure tests are given. Jim was visiting with my aunt who was waiting her turn when an elderly woman asked him, “Excuse me, are you next?”

Smiling he stuck out his hand and said, “No, I’m, Jim. Glad to meet you.” The whole room laughed in a wave as the retirees one by one realized what he had said. I bet the blood pressure readings dropped 10 digits. If increased exposure to humor improves health, I’m in luck because I live with someone who loves to laugh.

Author Anne Lamott equates laughter to carbonated holiness. We all need it in huge doses. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart is like good medicine ...” I don’t think there is ever a risk of an overdose.

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