Friday, January 12, 2007

Enjoy the Gift of Laughter

When my friend, Mona, came back from a trip to Europe, she eagerly gave me exciting details about it. She described gondola trips, ferrying on a lake in Switzerland and many other things she had seen, but none was hilarious to me as what she described as “a pope in a glass case” in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Mona described the embalmed body of a long-gone pope who had been on display in a glass box. He was well preserved, bronzed, and dressed in his papal gear, looking so real as though he could just step out of his box and go about his pontifical duties.

At the time Mona called to tell me about her trip, I was dealing with a heavy strain of thought, but by the end of our hour-long telephone conversation, we were both rollicking with laughter.

What is it that makes us love to hear and see the funny side of life, even to hear an enjoyable joke over and over again? Our souls are burdened with stresses and yearn to feel free, and on the physical level, one of the greatest releases for the soul is gained through comedy and laughter. However, many people lack a sense of humour and hold inhibitions to good, gut-wrenching laughter; they really do not know how to laugh.

Gone are the days when we had people like Red Skelton with his characterization of Clem Kadiddlehopper and Jackie Gleason’s “how sweet it is...” to entertain us with wholesome comedy and laughter. Both Skelton and Gleason have had a wonderful sense of humour and served us well as top-ranking comedians in our time.

The Bible says: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). And pretty much the same, “A merry heart taketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken” (Proverbs 15:13). Laughter is truly “the best medicine” to chase gloominess away.
Yet, on many occasions, we have to create our merriness of heart. Learning to create moments of laughter can help us put aside our troubles, even for a short season. It could free us from self-pity which is one of the most devastating prisons we could create for ourselves.

Over our many years of marriage, my husband, Errol and I have packaged several good stories that never fail to bring us merriment and laughter. Very often, either of us would have only to say a few words of introduction to some long-past event and out would come a concert of jokes and laughter. Just a word or two is all it takes to act as a lead.

Some in the medical profession claim that laughing is equivalent to physical exercise to some extent and does our cardiac system good. And on the emotional level, many of us have proved that laughter also eases depression, releases frustrations and restores a sense of merriment.

Did you ever watch small children at play? They take many of their games and play-acting very seriously. Watch their faces and you will see a reflection of you and me as they mimic life in their games. They treat their fantasies as real. Many times we do pretty much the same, taking many issues too seriously and creating burdens for ourselves, unnecessarily.

Many issues in life are absurd and many are the absurd things we do. But many are the pits of depression we could be lifted from if we learn to laugh, even at ourselves. Learn to laugh at life’s absurdities: the things we took for real that weren’t real, the castles we built in the air that crashed, the castles we built in the sand that the sea took away.

Can you now look back and see the sound facts from fleeting fiction?

I have seen two major points in developing merriness of heart through laughter: (1) recognize the absurd things you do or have done in the past as part of the over-all human condition you belong to, and laugh at them, (2) re-live amusing incidents of long ago and laugh all over again; it will help you break through some barriers.

I still do not understand what is so funny about “a pope in a glass case.” Maybe it was the way Mona told it, but I know that story will be the subject for much laughter between us for many months to come. The laughter stirred by that story made my day and I hope it will stir some laughter in you too.

Check out my workbook, "Breaking Through the Barriers" at The listed cost is $5.00 less till the end of February.

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