Do you know what gelotology is? Don’t worry, I didn’t either until I looked it up. It’s the study of laughter and its psychological and physiological effects on the body. Hmmm…there must be something to this funny little thing called laughter.
We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine and most of us realize that humor is contagious – far more than any nasty cough or sneeze, actually. When we hear the sound of a giggle or the roar of laughter, we just have to see where it’s coming from, don’t we? Misery loves company, but so does laughter.
Laughing has many surprising short and long-term health benefits - physically, mentally and socially. This priceless dose of medicine is free, easy to use and works quickly. Laughter strengthens our immune system, boosts our energy, diminishes pain and protects us from the damaging effects of stress. It can lighten our burdens and inspire hope. Humor helps to shift perspective and allows us to see situations in a less threatening light. (I’m lovin’ the sound of all this!)
Want some more? Laughter can lower blood pressure, improve our memory, ease anxiety and give our abs a work-out (if we’re really rolling – leg and back muscles, too). Laughing is also attractive. Yes, it’s true - people want to be around people who laugh and who laugh easily.
It helps if we can laugh at ourselves first. So, I’ll start. It seems that I was out of the loop for awhile since I don’t text (gasp) or have a smart phone (double gasp). Much to my friends’ dismay, they actually have to pick up the phone and call me – hee hee. It’s because I want to hear their laughter!
If they aren’t able to talk at the time, they’ll usually just e-mail. Little did I know – they WERE laughing along via e-mail. I just thought they loved me. They would write LOL all the time and I thought it meant “lots of love.” When they wrote LMAO, I thought that was just another computery term – kind of like “amore,” the Italian word for love. (Say it – L’mao – see? Oh, never mind.) So…I finally realized that they weren’t sending love my way at all, they were just LAUGHING (really hard, apparently). Joke’s on me this time!
Funny story - My husband and I were recently able to take a little jaunt to
without the kiddos (thank you again, Mimi & Pops and Nanny & Popo!) My husband needed some continuing education hours and I wanted to…relax. We actually spent much of our time on this quick getaway laughing. San Antonio
There were four times on this trip alone that made us laugh until we cried. The first thing was my cell phone alarm. I set two phone alarms that Tuesday morning – one for my husband to get up for his class and the second one so that I wouldn’t miss the free “made to order omelets” downstairs. Well. Did I mention that the room-darkening shades made it blacker than black and I couldn’t see a thing? Not a thing. Oh and I should also tell you that I’m close to legally blind without my glasses or contacts. Take a moment to visualize.
Okay, so my phone alarm went off and I fumbled around trying to find where that dreadful sound was coming from. Then, when I finally found the phone, I pushed button after button on that thing to get it to stop. It’s a flip-phone (triple gasp) and I opened and shut those little hinges at least twenty times and the alarm only got LOUDER. I even tried to hide the phone under the pillow to mute the noise. Don’t forget that this was all done in complete and utter darkness by my ultra-blind self.
In desperation, I found the battery in that horrid phone and…removed it. I gently placed the battery and the phone beside me on the pillow and I rested. I was pooped. I couldn’t wait to tell my husband about my encounter with the phone. We laughed together as I recalled the details.
The second time was when my husband sweetly left me a love note and I think the housekeeper, Maria, found it before I did that morning. I’m assuming she smiled and probably giggled. We laughed.
The third time was when we were driving home. I am awful with directions and I have NO sense of where I am going when in the car – north, south, landmarks – the synapses in my brain are faulty when it comes to maps. So, as I was driving around (and around and around) on
Loop 410, my husband said, “Does any of this look familiar to you?” I said, “You’re kidding, right?” We laughed. He knows how bad I am. We would’ve looped around and ended up right back where we started if it weren’t for him. Thank you, honey.
Finally, I hate to admit this. But, when we were about thirty minutes from home, my husband said, “We forgot something.” I slowed down (as if we would turn around and go get it?!). We had forgotten all of our hanging clothes in the hotel closet. We have NEVER done that AND we didn’t even have kids to blame this time! So, what could we do but laugh. We envisioned that our housekeeper might enjoy the new wardrobe since I’m presuming she felt a connection with us after the love note. Hopefully, they’ll mail the clothes back to us.
Anyway! I truly do love to laugh. I also love to make people laugh. There are several ways that we can include more joy, hope and laughter in our lives: (1) Smile – that’s where it all begins (2) Make a list of our blessings and thank God for them (3) When we hear laughter, seek it out and find the source (4) Spend time with people who laugh (5) Add humor to daily conversations (6) Take ourselves less seriously (7) Surround ourselves with reminders to lighten up (8) Take notes from our children, who are experts on playing and laughing.
Find laughter in the everyday. My husband grabbed my son’s yogurt drink container out of the sink and finished up the last few sips, only to find that it was full of soapy water and not yogurt. He laughed…after he gagged and choked it down. And, in searching for something that he misplaced, my husband stated, “I’m going crazy!” and our youngest daughter exclaimed, “I wanna come, too!” We laughed. Our middle daughter keeps us in stitches. She said, “Did you know that if you get struck by lightning, you can see all your bones like in an x-ray?!” (Note to self – too much TV!)
My Uncle Erol enjoys passing along e-mail jokes and I enjoy getting them. Here are a few that recently made me laugh:
JOKE ONE: There are two kinds of people in this world – those who wake up in the morning and say, “Good morning, Lord,” and those who wake up and say,
“Good Lord, it’s morning.”
JOKE TWO: A pastor got up one Sunday morning and announced to his congregation – “I have good news and bad news. The good news is that we have enough money to pay for our new building. The bad news is that it’s still out there… in your pockets!”
JOKE THREE: When our lawn mower broke and wouldn’t run, my wife kept hinting to me that I should get it fixed. But, somehow I always had something else to take care of first – the shed, the boat, my rod & reel. Finally, she thought of a clever way to make her point. When I arrived home one day, I found her seated in the tall grass, busily snipping away with a tiny pair of sewing scissors. I watched silently for a short time and then went into the house. I was gone only a minute, and when I came out again I handed her a toothbrush. I said, “When you finish cutting the grass, you might as well sweep the driveway...”
The doctors say I will walk again, but I will always have a limp.
Life is all about the moments (and laughs) that take our breath away. So, laugh it up! For my friends who understand texting terms better…KOL – Keep on Laughing or Keep on Loving – however you want to interpret it. I like ‘em both!