gratitude-a-thon day 574: you’ve just got to laugh

My family. We used to laugh a lot. Just looking at my mother’s face here makes me roll on the floor laughing.

I laugh a lot. I think funniness is next to Godliness. To me, nothing is better than a good guffaw, especially when the chips are down.

If I could tell you how many situations I have been in, where a two trillion buckets of tears were shed, and life was reconsidered, and the darkest hour right before the dawn seemed to stick around, you would fall asleep. But in almost all of those cases, the answer turned out to be simple.

I laughed.

Riley innocently enough got caught in my bedroom curtains. I half think he was just trying to make me laugh.

I was brought up in a house with two really funny parents. My mother had great timing. My dad had awful timing, which is what made him so hilarious. They both had wicked senses of humor. To me, funny is about as good as it gets. Laughing is the free medication that doctors never give you a prescription for, although if you’ve been in for a physical lately, you will likely get a giggle over just how fast they can give you the once over (remember the Evelyn Wood Speed Reading course? Apply to doctor’s appointments, and you’ve got the picture). Both of my sisters are funny, each in their own particular way. And they can make me laugh until I cry. My daughter and son both have the funny gene. My husband is funny when he doesn’t even mean to be. Even my dog is absolutely a riot.

Laughing is a key component in my life. It always has been.

Turning a bad, awful, even horrible situation into a chuckle is something I’ve grown into. Being exquisitely sensitive has forced me to lighten up when I can. The world is much too much. You’ve got to look at every angle, and turn it on its ear as frequently as possible. That’s often where the best snort-laughs are found. And that is the end of the rainbow. Plus laughing is actually good for your health.

Check out this article on what those funny folks at Harvard have to say about a good ha, ha, ha. Linda Loma University in California’s associate professor Lee Berk, who’s spent almost three decades studying how a good laugh affects your health, says that your mind, hormone system and immune system are constantly communicating with one another in ways that impact everything from your mood to your ability to fend off sickness and disease. Take grief: “Grief induces stress hormones, which suppress your immune function, which can lead to sickness,” he says. Hardly a week goes by without new research tying stress to another major ailment.

Peter and Jake giving us a Christmas morning laugh.

Why mention stress? “Because laughter appears to cause all the reciprocal, or opposite, effects of stress,” Berk explains. He says laughter shuts down the release of stress hormones like cortisol. It also triggers the production of feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine, which have all kinds of calming, anti-anxiety benefits. Think of laughter as the yin to stress’s yang.

Ally has always been a riot, ever since her first joke at two: “Knock Knock. Who’s There? Poop!”

There are a bout 1,345,892 other studies on this too. Check out Norman Cousins story, if you really want to laugh. There are even people who can teach you how to do it.

Is there better evidence to look for the funny moments?

I am always mining a situation for its comedy gold. It’s how I make my way through life. If you’re not laughing enough, the joke is on you, because this is the best way to help you navigate the rough patches. I had a challenging week, but by yesterday, I was able to find some jokes in it. Ha! Gratitude goes to the giggle.