“I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”
― Audrey Hepburn
“Coitainly I’m sound asleep.”
“Then why are you talkin’?”
“I’m talkin’ in my sleep!”
“Oh, a blind date, aay?”
“She ain’t blind!… she may be a little hard o’ hearin’.”
“You snore like a roarin’ lion!”
“I do not! I stayed awake all last night to see if I snored, and I didn’t!”
Most Sunday mornings before we left for church, my brother and I watched the Three Stooges. They were silly, and they made me laugh. I wanted to be able to make the sounds when I added numbers and pull a cash register receipt out of my mouth the way Curly did. Not everyone is a Stooges fan, I know, but there is a comedy for everybody, and as Audrey Hepburn recognized, being able to laugh is an important part of who we are.
Sometimes, life is not funny. Losing someone we love, dealing with diseases that change our quality of life, losing a job, feeling abandoned, or any number of other traumatic or emotional experiences can leave us feeling incredibly sad and serious. It is precisely at those times that we need to find humor and let it do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
Humor means that something is amusing, and judging by the items in the ‘humor’ category of movies, what you and I find amusing could be very different things. My sense of humor has been questioned at times. I generally do not find it humorous when a joke is at someone else’s expense, as in laughing because someone was scared or hurt. The value of laughing, though, is real and worth our effort to bring more of it into our lives. According to the National Library of Medicine, “Laughter has shown physiological, psychological, social, spiritual, and quality-of-life benefits. Adverse effects are very limited, and laughter is practically lacking in contraindications.”
With the absence of contraindications, excepting when you laugh when a person falls and then suffer their wrath for a bit, it seems we need to be intentional about bringing laughter into our lives. How do we do that, though? We wake up, make the bed, fix coffee and breakfast, shower, and dress, and leave for the morning or the day. Where is the humor? Do you have children living with you? Maybe they’ll be a source of inspiration. If you live alone, though, what can you do?
If you have cable television or a computer with internet, you can start by making a list of funny shows or movies to watch. There are some very funny shows and movies that can leave us in stitches. Old shows available on some networks or on Netflix would be Carol Burnett Show, Dick Van Dyke, Laurel and Hardy or The Honeymooners; New (clean) shows recommended by friends are Big Bang Theory, Parenthood, Raising Hope, Superstore and Parks and Rec. Comedians who have good clean humor and can be found online were recommended to me, too: Jim Gaffigan, Nate Bargatze, and Brian Regan. I am already making my list of shows to watch and books to read.
Norman Cousins discovered that ten minutes of laughter allowed him to have two hours of pain-free sleep. In his book Anatomy of an Illness, Cousins talks about how his disease went into remission through choosing laughter over grief. Perhaps you’d like to read his book, too. We can choose to be depressed over the state of affairs in our lives or in our world, or we can claim our sanity and good health through laughter.The use of laughter is within your reach and mine for a better quality of life. Find your funny bone, and let’s laugh!