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  • Writer's picturePat Birnie

Laughter truly is the best medicine

Updated: May 28, 2021

I think we all need a lot more laughter and joy these days…we need to find it wherever we can! When was the last time you enjoyed a deep, uncontrollable belly laugh? I know when that happens it’s such a joyous feeling. You know, when you get the giggles and you can’t control it. You’re laughing so hard that you have tears in your eyes, or maybe even let out a little ‘toot’ (did that make you laugh? Or at least smile) I so love when something strikes my funny bone in such a way that I keep dissolving into laughter over and over during the day. And when you are falling asleep at night and you think about it again, and out comes another snort of laughter. That is just the best. I’ll share a story at the end that had me dissolving into laughter for days. As things around us become heavier and more serious, as we get bad news every day, as we hear repeatedly what we “cannot” do and the list of restrictions gets longer, it seems these times of laughter become rarer by the day. I’ve made a decision to focus on laughter and joy – it is something I can control. I'm going to make a point to find an extra bit of laughter every single day! I thought I’d do a bit of a deep dive and explore what makes us laugh. Did you know that rat’s laugh? I even found a video of a rat being tickled and laughing but decided not to share it here, because, well ewwww; it kind of freaked me out. I also found this article on why we laugh really interesting. This paragraph is sad but undeniably true: “…young children probably laugh the most. At ages 5 and 6, we tend to see the most exuberant laughs. Adults laugh less than children, probably because they play less. And laughter is associated with play.” What’s the solution? Well let’s play more…let’s take some laughter breaks in our day.

Laughter is a universal reaction and one that we don’t have to be taught. If you have a baby around you are lucky – there is nothing as joyous and laugh-inducing as a baby’s deep belly laugh – that makes everyone laugh!! We have lots of resources right at our fingertips. Here are just a few: ** There are some great sitcoms – got to Netflix and start Schitt’s Creek from the beginning. That show is absolute gold. **Stand-up routines on YouTube or podcasts (I love this one where Seth Meyers shares how his wife gave birth in their apartment lobby). If you enjoy this, check out his full length “Lobby Baby” on Netflix. I watched this in its entirety twice and laughed out loud so many times! **Cartoons and jokes about Trump. Why does just about everyone find these hilarious? It’s an expression of culture really, we are reacting to a situation we can’t change, so might as well make fun of it. Some things are so bad we can do nothing but laugh….but at least it’s a laugh! **How about Laughter Yoga? If you are feeling stress go for it – it’s proven to actually reduce cortisol levels! I’m sure we can find a virtual class somewhere. Here’s a sampling from TedX Women Montreal.

I’m pretty lucky that I find my husband funny. I know that was a huge attraction factor for me, and after almost 17 years of marriage, he still makes me laugh every day. In addition we’ll often start laughing when on the verge of an argument – fortunately we both usually realize the little verbal barbs going back and forth aren’t worth getting into a fight about and one of us will say something stupid (but funny). Laughing at yourself! This is the best type of laughter, in my opinion. If we can’t laugh at ourselves life is going to be really difficult. You are going to beat yourself up about all of the stupid things you do. Doing this in front of our kids is also really good modelling behaviour as most children need to learn how to laugh at themselves – it does not come naturally. Here’s the story that I promised. And guess what? I was totally laughing at myself. A few years ago my husband and I were in Portugal. We had climbed up to a lookout and wanted to take a selfie with the gorgeous view of the ocean behind us. But you know when the sun is so bright that you can’t see your phone screen? We spent 3 or 4 minutes trying to flip the camera but just couldn’t find it. Well, it turns out we had somehow hit the ‘video’ button and had recorded several minutes of these two ‘old folks’ peering at the screen, muttering and squinting (probably arguing a little with each other about who was useless). Oh my god…when we found some shade and discovered this video we laughed SO hard. And we laughed about it for days. Honestly as I was typing this I started laughing again. I regret to say that our reflex was to delete the damn thing right away as we both felt so silly. I truly regret deleting that – boy I could have laughed at that every day since! What makes you laugh daily? Does it come naturally or do you go looking for it? Our lives are a little too serious right now – it’s time to lighten up!

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