WE NEED TO LAUGH MORE
|Beware! All serious
people should be alert to the beginning symptoms of the laughter contagion. When the
corners of your mouth turn up involuntarily and you must continually swallow unsolicited
giggles, run for cover! You may have the Laughter Addiction. The laughter high that
we gain when we laugh until we hold our sides, roll about on the floor, feel the tears
streaming down our cheeks (and perhaps down our legs as well) is addicting. What
protects people from such loosey-goosey, nonsensical fun? Our serious, controlled,
approach to everything from sex to the family vacation.
Human beings are not born serious. We begin life fully equipped with an innate playfulness and the ability to laugh freely. Sadly, we curb our playfulness and our laughter as a sacrifice to the serious business of adulthood. In order to keep laughing, we need to be in a partial state of playfulness, consciously or unconsciously. Laughter therapy can help us ease our adult seriousness and retrieve that lost sensation of play.
Laughter is not only fun. It is also good for us. At last! Something good for us that is also enjoyable. There is no need for "yukky tasting" concoctions, profuse sweating in concentrated exercise, or a change in our diet for this particular pursuit of health. All thats required is pure, unrestrained, old-fashioned laughter. It heals the body and eases painful emotions like anger and fear. It helps us cope with daily survival in a pleasant and effective way. Since laughter is born of tension, stress, and pain, most of us need not worry about being able to laugh. Stress is the number one health problem today, and weve all got it.
Laughter therapy is a term used by many, but for our purposes, it is learning to laugh freely again at the many things we deal with that arent funny. Children will play with almost anything except direct pain. Adults were intended to do the same. When we can play with our pain, we laugh. When we laugh, we shift our perspective and problems shrink to a manageable size. We don't diminish importance, but we are less overwhelmed.
|If waves of laughter were sweeping the land,
waves of violence would not be possible. Laughter is warm, bonding, and contagious. We
need to connect with those we love and with our fellow human beings. We need to feel good.
We need to feel safe. We need to laugh more.
Anyone can join the laughter movement. All it takes is a willingness to risk some loss of control. The timid may start with a few shy giggles. The courageous may jump in with deep belly laughter. A sense of humor is not required. Theres more than enough stress to go around and absurdity abounds in our daily lives. All we have to do is believe, let go, clap our hands and laughter will live again. So will we. Laughter is feeling deeply which allows us to live fully.
We can encourage laughter at home by being playful with our families. Wear a clown nose when you put your children to bed. Break up the chores by indulging in a pillow fight. Ease conflict by saying something light and unexpected. Let hand puppets help with your communication or say it with a humorous hat. Life at home doesnt have to be serious. Its far too important.
Strive to slip laughter into the workplace with a few lighthearted windup toys. Play with your frustrations by writing them on the soles of your shoes and walk on them. Wear a temporary tatoo that expresses your mood for the day. No one need see it. Practice laughing so you can laugh when you need it most. Find ways to celebrate your stress. If youve got it, you might as well enjoy it.
Mother Nature laughs. She created people playful and funny. She also created laughter. Sadly, in pursuit of serious things, we have short circuited both our play and our laughter. In our frenzy to succeed and to have it all, we have shortened everything. We have fast food, fast banking, fast fun, fast shopping, and fast sex. Life is a longer process on a shorter schedule and for that we need lots of laughter. Our natural laughter has no place on the internet nor does it advertise itself in an infomercial. Its neither fast-paced nor high tech. Its not expensive and cant be bought in a shopping mall. We cant pay others to laugh for us and reap the same benefits. All of us can do it ourselves, however, because were born with it. Soif were going to "smell the roses" from a drive-in window, at least we can laugh at our own folly.
©1999 Enda Junkins, LCSW, PO Box 684, Ouray, CO 81427
Enda Junkins, MSW, LMSW-ACP
I was on vacation at last, savoring the idea of a week in the mountains enjoying the snow and the freewheeling feeling of skiing downhill. However, before even getting to the slopes I had to endure the tedium of airport security. With every trip Iíve taken since Sept. 11, I have felt my irritation mounting at the absurdities endured at security in order to insure safe arrival at my destination. I finally realized I had become too serious about the security precautions now in place as we Americans struggle to learn how to protect ourselves sensibly and efficiently. I realized that if I were to continue traveling by air, I needed some ways of lightening up about the process.
Since security is literally so serious, I knew I needed to develop techniques to lighten things up that I could use quietly in the privacy of my own mind. Security personnel who are appropriately grim-faced and monosyllabic in their infrequent attempts at communication frown upon verbal playfulness. Therefore, I began the process of coping by imagining that the security peopleís faces brightened at the mere sight of me and that I was perceived as the most enjoyable passenger participating in the search process. In my mind, the security agents were humble and apologetic for the irritating process they were putting me through, and I, in turn, grandly forgave them.
When I was chosen for the random shoe search, I self-consciously grinned to myself at the feeling of nakedness at having my shoes off before other passengers. I felt proud that my socks had no holes. I also thought that the old warning by mothers to make sure your underwear is clean in case of an accident should now include clean and mended socks in case of the random shoe search. Sock it to me, baby, I thought as I held my feet up for inspection even though I have no idea what could be secreted in my socks that can bring down an airplane.
As I stood there in my bare feet waiting to have the wand passed over my body, I wondered if they could possibly develop wands that could also shave pounds off strategic parts of oneís body. I know that such a wand would lend much needed patience to most of us as we undergo the humiliating inference that we could plot to kill our fellow passengers with our safety pins, eye lash curlers, finger nail clippers, and other potential deadly weapons that we carry thoughtlessly concealed in our make up bags and shaving kits.
Once thoroughly cleared at the security gate, I felt comfortable hauling out my tape player, book and other odds and ends that I planned to use during my trip. Then, to my chagrin, something made them choose my once innocent-looking, Anglo-Saxon face for the random search at the gate. Piling everything down with a good a grace as possible, I tried to meditate during the process. When that didnít work, I thought about laughter in my mind. I think that worked but, if not, at least it distracted me until the ordeal was over. Once again my socks and shoes were searched for weapons. My orthotics were pulled out of my boots this time, and I tackily revised my idea that clean socks were a good thing. Maybe watching the security person gag at smelly shoes and socks would give me a little satisfaction.
As I left the security table, I was verbally validated to the ticket-taker as okay to board. As I walked to my plane, last to board of course, I facetiously remarked to myself, "Drat! I wonít be able to terrorize anyone this trip." I was able to grin at my silliness as I bravely walked on board the plane feeling somehow slightly criminal as I walked down the aisle with all eyes upon me as the One Who Was Searched Again. I comforted my seatmates as I sat down by reassuring them that I had no weapons on my person or in my socks as I had been thoroughly searched twice. We laughed together as we commiserated with one another about being singled out in the security process. The fact that it is random offers little comfort if you are chosen. Perhaps it would help if they gave out pins saying, "I was searched and am clean as a whistle."
As in every human endeavor, we are going to extremes as the security learning curve steepens. I can only hope that we will ultimately stop the more absurd security stuff and do what will truly protect us as we travel. In the meantime, I say thank you on a daily basis that no terrorist has attempted to blow up a plane with explosives secreted in a body cavity. If that happens, weíre all going to need more than light thoughts and a touch of humor to even contemplate traveling by plane.