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The Joy of Laughter

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“He will fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.”

—Job 8:21

When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. And swing!”

—Leo Buscaglia

When was the last time you laughed – I mean, really laughed – until the tears rolled down your cheeks, your sides hurt, and you gasped for air? You laughed and laughed and didn’t want to stop!

Something tickled your funny bone so that in an instant you saw the world differently – your situation was so bad, it was funny – your problem so profound, it was laughable – the ludicrous became the comical. The world had turned upside down and you laughed as you swung in the absurdity of the moment.

What precipitated that laughter?

How did it change how you felt about your world, your situation, yourself? How did it change the minutes and hours afterwards?

“Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.”

—Mark Twain

Laughter helped Allen Klein, author of The Healing Power of Humor, go through the death of his beloved wife. Together, they chose to focus on the ludicrous, the absurd, and the farcical. They laughed over the ridiculous and after her death these memories put a smile on his lips along with the tears on the eyelids. The focus was on the good times together and the wonderful memories that were created.

“The crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow.”

—H. G. Wells

A year after my husband died, I invited a group of close friends to come to dinner, where we toasted his life and shared stories about the funny things he did, the way he could laugh at himself, and how much we loved his subtle humor. It was more than just a celebration of his life; it was a placing of wonderful stories and events and connections lovingly in our memories.

Our Ability to Create Humor

Each person has within them the ability to create humor and laughter. Humor is not just fun. It is extremely powerful “medicine” that heals the soul and mends the body. Humor is a revival, a mini-vacation, a breath of fresh air, a way to cope. There is no situation so severe that we can’t find a way to laugh at it.

Humor can instantly transport you to another world. It removes you from the troubles in the moment allowing pain to subside. It makes life bearable when everything is going wrong. It allows us to laugh at ourselves while giving us power over what seems impossible and powerless.

Tickle the Tummy of Your Misfortunes

women laughing

What makes you laugh? When do you laugh the most? What if you took your impossible situation and looked at it upside down? Would it make you smile – maybe even laugh?

Comedians find humor in all life circumstances. In fact, they would not be in business if they couldn’t turn tragic events into occasions to laugh.

Laughter is not a once-in-a while event. It is a lifestyle – a way to look at life. You not only find the good things every day, but you find those moments when you can take an intolerable situation, one packed with emotions and stress, flip it on its side and tickle its tummy.

“I’m hanging on so tight, I’m getting rope burn.”

—Fred Allen, Playwright

Humor takes the edge off any crisis.

It isn’t laughing at someone – it’s laughing at yourself.

It’s taking the edge off the adversity sitting in front of you.

It is enlarging the joyous moments – expanding the depth of our love and enjoyment of life.

6 ways to make laughter and humor a normal part of your life

1. Exaggerate. Take a bad day and blow it out of proportion. Make a mountain out of a molehill. Imagine you are giving a performance at a local theatre and your material is coming from what is happening right now in your life.

“I had such a bad day… You wouldn’t believe how bad it was… It was so bad…”

“I wouldn’t say the rooms in the last place I stayed were small, but the mice were hunchbacked!”

—Fred Allen, Playwright

2. “Ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive, e-lim-i-nate the negative” was a popular song in the 1940s.

Choose to look at the world on the positive side vs. the negative side.

A 50% chance of sunshine instead of a 50% chance of rain…

A glass half full vs half empty.

3. Start a “Happy Journal.” Paste a large smiling face on the cover. Record a happy, pleasant, or joyful event each day. Find that blessing in whatever is happening. Sometimes those blessings are hiding under a big rock of troubles. Lift the rock and release the blessings. Include warm comments, favorite sayings or anything that made you laugh. Paste in cards and letters or articles that focus on the positive. Look at your journal every day. Rewrite current events to include humor.

4. Smile at yourself every time you pass a mirror! At the same time, give yourself a big hug. Allow yourself to be open to hugs and you will find others may want a simple hug as well.

5. Cut out jokes and cartoons and place around your room. Create humorous affirmations, such as “I love to laugh!” and repeat them whenever you are feeling down.

6. Laugh at yourself. Perhaps the greatest gift of all is our ability to laugh at ourselves! If we laugh at ourselves, nobody can laugh “at us” – they can only laugh “with us.”

“When we admit our schnozzles, instead of defending them, we begin to laugh, and the world laughs with us.” 

—Jimmy Durante

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