Laugh Or Go Insane!

The above title is from a quote by Robert Frost; the entire quote is “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.” I’ve always been a huge believer in the healing power of humor, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot more about its importance in a world that seems to be full of anger.

You may think that in times of conflict and crisis, there is no place for levity. If that’s what you think, you may want to think again! Laughter is one of the greatest tools we have in battling disappointment, discouragement and fear. Mark Twain said, “The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.”

Let’s take a look at the nature of laughter…what it really is and how it affects our bodies and minds. Gelotology is actually the science of the effects of laughter on the body. The word comes from the Greek gelos, meaning ….you guessed it….laughter. When you laugh, you are setting off a chain of healthy reactions inside of you. Endorphins are released, oxygen intake increases, blood pressure goes down, and you just feel better!  It’s no wonder, because MRI scans show that when we laugh, multiple areas of our brains light up. Medical science recognizes that laughter is good for the body and the spirit.

There is a fine line between laughter and pain and sometimes it seems that we laugh at seemingly inappropriate times. Laughter is the ultimate coping mechanism. It allows us to break through the tension and look at things with a different perspective. Many of the most famous comedy teams came together during the WWII and the Great Depression. People need a break from stress and crisis, and laughter provides that much needed respite. When the tension mounts, there has to be a release valve or we’ll blow up! You’ve probably heard the expression, “I laughed until I cried.” Or perhaps you’ve heard it the other way around. The emotional cycle can be like a snake eating its own tail. You laugh until you cry and you cry until you laugh…they are both essential for emotional survival and stability.

Laughter can be a valuable tool in recovering from an emotional shock or trauma. We sometimes have difficulty breaking out of the cycle of negativity and we become emotionally paralyzed. If we keep some humor in our lives, it can help us facilitate our healing and regain the joy of living.

It may seem irreverent and disrespectful to think about laughing when the world is in such a state of chaos. But just the opposite is true! Negativity breeds negativity and positivity is contagious. We can’t help a bad situation by dwelling on its hopelessness, but we can do a lot of good for ourselves and other people, if we refuse to honor the bad stuff! We can switch mental channels and look for ways to turn negatives into positives.

But how do we find joy in times of intense stress? Don’t let finding ways to add levity to your life stress you out even more! Just try to take yourself less seriously. Go back to your childhood and find the elf in yoursELF. Buy yourself a coloring book and crayons, blow some bubbles, get some Play-dough, decorate your work environment with things that remind you of happy times and make you laugh. Rent a comedy movie. I have a fun file in which I keep cartoons, funny pictures and other things that can break my negative mood. It really doesn’t take much, if you really want to do it! Don’t be afraid of appearing childish and frivolous; clearing your mind of negative thoughts allows more room in there for possibilities! Oh…and if you really can’t find anything about which you can laugh, contact me and I’ll send you a picture of myself in a swimsuit. That will do it!

Laughter doesn’t make everything better for us, but it sure makes us better for everything. It has been said that laughter is the sound of the soul dancing. Don’t let the woes of the world keep your soul off of the dance floor!

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