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Laughing Matters
Why laugh? There are so many benefits to a rolling belly laugh! It's a genuine stress-buster with no side effects.

"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter," remarks poet E. E. Cummings.

For some, that could be a scary thought. After all, the statistics are against us. When was the last time you had a hearty laugh with your family?

Do you know that kids laugh an average of 300 times a day, and adults barely 15 times a day?

It seems children are born comedians. They love to act silly and find fun in absurdities. However, sometimes that fun-loving nature can get squelched in the process of growing up.

If a child is reprimanded for silliness or is told often, "Act your age, ""Grow up!" or "That isn't funny" it's hard for him to have fun or enjoy humour as an adult, "If the light of the laughter is not allowed to glow, the children of the house will not be able to grow," writes Robert Holden in his book, Laughter the Best Medicine (Thorsons Publishing).

Why laugh?

There are so many benefits to laughter! It's free; it lights up your surroundings; it's a genuine stress-buster with no side effects.

In fact, enjoying the lighter side of things is even more important when life at first glance doesn't seem so funny. "If people don't lighten up when things get tough, they're going to tighten up and snap," warns C.W. Metcalf in Lighten Up (Addison-Wesley Publishing).

Laughter – a health booster

But laughter provides more than just peace of mind.

A rolling belly laugh gives you a great internal workout. It ventilates your lungs, stabilizes your blood pressure, oxygenates your blood, facilitates digestion, and relaxes your body.

"Ten minutes of belly laughter would give me two hours of pain-free sleep," writes Norman Cousins, the author of Anatomy of an Illness (Norton), who conquered a painful, life-threatening disease by laughing his way through comedy movies.

Currently, some hospitals have "humour carts," stocked with humorous books, comedy videos, clownish noses, and windup toys for their patients.

This is not to say that laughter will automatically make any distress or disease disappear. Instead, it alters your attitude to see your situation from a humorous perspective.

And sometimes that will actually alter your physical condition.

Laughter – your signature

Laughter also defines us. Every time we laugh, we tell others a little about ourselves, what we think and how we feel.

"Men show their character in nothing more clearly than by what they think laughable," says early I 9th century philosopher J.W. Goethe.

By revealing true character, many friendships are born out of fun and laughter "If two people cannot share laughter together, it will be highly unlikely they will be able to share anything else," writes Holden. Likewise, when children see their parents laughing together instead of barking at each other, they will grow to love life and laugh more.

That’s not funny

However, laughter comes with a warning label.

Respectivity, timing and content are very important in deciding when and if to instigate laughter" writes Catherine Fenwick in her book, Love and Laughter (St. Peter's Press).

Laughing with people is a door opener, while laughing at people is a road-blocker. While the former soothes and bonds, the latter creates pain and distance.

For instance, playground teasing can carve permanent scars in a child's memory. Teach children to steer clear of mocking others' clothes, bodyweight, religion or ethnicity.

Get the giggles!

There are so many ways to capture the funny moments in everyday life.

Begin by adopting a laugh-ready attitude, choosing friends who make you laugh and daring to be foolish. Then, take steps toward enjoying the funny side of life: start a humour library, get in the habit of telling jokes with your family, and; experiment with taking a short "laughter break') at work.

Thank God whenever you hear peals of laughter in your house. No amount of wealth could buy such a great blessing!

Originally published in Living Light News, January/February 2007.




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