What happened to your laugh? – is a question I asked myself. While I never laughed out loud every day, like my sister, I can crack- up myself and others. It felt like laughter got tossed to the curb over the past few months. I missed it.
What changed was a weekend visit from a dear friend. This is a friend I had not seen in over 3 years, and due to unforeseen circumstances, I missed her wedding in September. I felt awful about that and was missing her terribly when she called and said she wanted to visit for the weekend. Did I care? I was jubilant about getting to see her, hug her and have 48 hours to catch up on our lives.
What I could not have imagined is that she gave me back my laugh.
My girlfriend and I started out giggling over silly stuff and before you know it we were overcome with full blown hold your sides, oh my God I can’t breathe laughter. It only got worse when we tried to go to bed.
Before I go on a few points about laughter:
Statistics show that little children laugh 400 times a day. One study showed that grownups laugh only eleven, and another said only four. Regardless of the most accurate number, it is clear adults do not laugh enough compared to children.
Laughter is the best medicine, and there is scientific evidence that that laughter can speed up the healing process. It lowers your blood pressure and heart rate, improves lung capacity, massages internal organs, increases memory and alertness, reduces pain, improves digestion, and lowers the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenalin. It’s good for the muscles involved in laughter, your chest and abdomen, and it exercises those muscles not involved.
Laughter also has psychological gains. It teaches us to be out of control, brings us into the moment, helps us transcend our problems, brings us closer to people and helps us think more clearly.
Given this why wouldn’t you make it a point to laugh every day?
I decided to tuck her in and she said “Sing me Soft Kitty.” If you watch The Big Bang Theory you know exactly the song she wanted. I told her, as the joke goes; “Soft Kitty is only for when you are sick.” “Well, she replied, “being tired is a kind of sick.” So I sang her the song and we laughed, for 15 solid minutes, without stopping once. Every time we wound down, one of us would start tittering and we laughed all over again.
Finally, knowing we had to be up early, I said “Stop laughing” which resulted in another 15 minutes of laughter, and by now my stomach hurt, I was snorting and tears were running down my face. It was hard to breathe. It was wonderful.
It’s been a month since her visit and I am still laughing, at everything. Things that used to be slightly amusing cause me to laugh out loud every day. I laugh at TV, the Sunday funnies, my dog- anything and everything makes me laugh. It is breathtaking. Even my husband commented on how often I laugh now. It is the gift that just keeps giving.
So, in honor of the power of laughter, here are some ways you can create more laughter in your life:
• Attend a Laughter Yoga class. Yes, that is a real thing.
• Watch funny movies, TV shows or cartoons.
• Make a list of things that make you laugh and find a way to incorporate them in your daily life.
• Listen to comedians or better yet, go to a comedy club.
• Wear funny hats and watch people’s reactions.
• Put a quarter in a jar every time you are grumpy; use the money for something fun.
• Throw a “Fun” party with games and prizes for adults.
• Listen to kids laugh, it is contagious.
When you laugh, you grace everyone around you.
Remember what Woody Allen said “I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out my nose.”