Learning to Laugh Again
He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy (Job 8:21, TLB).
Your luster is lasting. And so is your smile. But it’s more than a sunny disposition. There’s light behind your eyes and passion in your voice. You’re laughing again.
You are not a dry-clean only item. Stiff. Starched. Confined inside a stuffy bag. You’re one swanky number who is comfortable with yourself. You’re not embarrassed by a little wear and tear or wrinkles. You are no longer hanging out in the back of the closet.
“He turned my sorrow into joy!” wrote the psalmist. “He took away my clothes of mourning and gave me gay and festive garments” (Psalm 30:11-12, TLB).
Get the last laugh
“Happy hormones” like immunoglobulin and cytokines, experts say, fight bacteria and viruses and destroy tumors. Just a quarter hour of belly laughing is enough aerobic activity to stimulate and increase these hormones. Laughter stimulates blood ciruclation and oxygenation and promotes clear thinking. It increases “natural killer” white blood cells, according to researchers Lee Berk and Arthur Stone. Their studies suggest healing is accelerated in people who laugh.
Other research shows that even the act of smiling when you don’t feel like it can reduce stress and improve your mood. Not only does it elicit positive responses from others, but it also promotes a sense of well-being. According to psychologist Paul Ekman of the Human Interaction Lab at the University of California in San Francisco, real smiles and fake smiles produce identical changes in brain activity, skin temperature, heart rate and respiration.
Nobody ever died of laughter. ~ Max Beebohm
Let life’s absurdities tickle you pink
Do whatever it takes to release those happy brain chemicals. Start exercising that muscle attached to your funny bone. With practice, you’ll get the hang of it. Begin by compiling a humor profile. What were your favorite pass-the-time moments as a child? What activities made you really happy? Was it slapping together mud pies in the sandbox? Playing “Skip to My Lou?” Fishing with your big brother? Flying kites? What did you beg your mom and dad to do over and over again? As you grew up, what Sunday funnies did you read and which comedians made your crack up? These are keys to what will make you feel good now.
Comedy is tragedy–plus time. ~ Carol Burnett
- Make a laughter scrapbook. Fill it with cartoons, jokes, stories, funny greeting cards, kids’ sayings, and overheard comments that make you laugh.
- Read the funnies faithfully.
- Ask people to save and send you things that are humorous.
- Keep a pencil and paper by the TV so you can record one-liners that get you giggling.
- Spend half an hour at the card store. Write anything funny in your notebook.
Few women admit their age. Few men act theirs. ~ Author unknown
- Build a play box. Collect small toys, gag gifts, and whimsical items that are fun, colorful and cuddly. Take a chuckle break and delve into it.
- Pull out of a bottle of bubbles and blow them around the office.
- Disguise your voice in a foreign accent and leave a mysterious message on your friend’s answering machine.
- Call your sister and tell her the latest “knock-knock” joke.
- Ask your kids for crazy rhymes and riddles.
Climb every mountain!
Ford every stream!
Follow every rainbow!
(That oughtta reduce middle-age spread.) ~ Author unknown
Cultivate wacky humor in your family. Ask: What will be important 100 years from now? That you got mad at your teenager’s latest insult and tired to set him straight, or that you turned into an occasion to laugh? You might also lift his heavy burdens, not by trying to “talk” about it, but by leaving things in his room that make him laugh. Tape clever sayings inside closets or tuck them under pillows. Leave a dollar–or five–where someone will find it–in the pocket of favorite jeans, the toe of shoe or a textbook. Catch him laughing with friends and take notes on what works. Spread those feel-good hormones however and wherever you can.
Laughter is a shock absorber that eases the blows of life. ~ Author unknown
Don’t be embarrassed by what tickeles your funny bone. Chuckle over babies spitting bubbles. Grin at your ability to repeat a joke–and remember the punch line. You will feel better if you can laugh at your mistakes and smile through what ails you. Happiness attracts like a magnet. You will you get others laughing with you. Laughter sweeps cobwebs out of closet corners and keeps the moths out. It’s time to put on your festive garments!
Prayer Pause: Lord, as the words of Psalm 126:1-3 express, You have done great things for me and I am glad. I can’t believe that I have looked adversity straight in the face and now I’m catching myself giggling again. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” How I need more of this divine prescription that You have provided to heal my grieving heart!
Excerpted from When He Leaves: Choosing to Live, Love and Laugh Again, by Kari West and Noelle Quinn, and Dare to Trust, Dare to Hope Again: Living with Losses of the Heart, by Kari West.