The Elixir of Laughter
“This is not a journey for cowards, it takes enormous courage to plumb one’s depth.” Maureen Murdock The Heroine’s Journey
For those of you who make me laugh or smile, the door is always open. How sweet it is to be greeted by your levity when I meet you, wherever that may be. You light up my life. I’m not particularly funny. However, I am a complete goofball with my kids. I’m happy they laugh when I break out in my spontaneous dance moves. I’m told I have a nice smile. “Smile and the world smiles back”, someone says. I like that sentiment.
I wonder. If we commissioned a market research firm to conduct a quantitative study on the number of smiles, and the sound of laughter we are exposed to daily, would the results be: Extreme seriousness. More laughter and smiles needed in the world. I see, and know personally, many people who cling to seriousness like a wet tongue stuck to a frozen flagpole. Their flag at the top of the pole reads: “Don’t bother me right now. I’m serious.” In the doldrums, living in the past, holding grudges, judging others, in a funk, feeling sorry for yourself, toting around the world’s smallest violin. I’m hanging with the funny people, the laugh therapists: those people who cultivate laughter within and without. The people who make me laugh so hard that my stomach hurts, or cause me to wipe a tear from my eye. Or simply just make me smile. These people are healers. I’m scheduling more playdates with them.
It’s proven that Laughter is great medicine, for many ailments, like stress and depression. It is known to lower blood pressure, improve relationships, and increase creativity, memory and learning. In a study at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, humor during instruction led to increased test scores.
When I was five something not very funny happened. My father left us. It was abrupt, and my mother was pregnant with my brother, so it was an especially delicate time. Sadness, disorientation, and anger visited our home. In standard story structure, the hero or heroine is jolted into their journey when something or someone pushes them out of their “ordinary” world. So for me my call to adventure began at age five, just before I entered Kindergarten. I was a very young heroine indeed. A year later, my step-dad entered the scene. And he is a very funny man. Although the pain of my father’s sudden departure has left a scar, we were fortunate enough for laughter to arrive when we needed it most. My brother is also a funny guy. When he was born he brought with him his light, and later his intelligent sense of humor. He continues to make us roar with laughter to this day. The moral of the story: Whatever pain you’ve experienced on your personal life journey, and we all have had our challenges, find the elixir of laughter along the way. Find it soon. Bring it home. Laugh.
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