Laughter Heals!

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What! Laugh!  Laugh Often!  Too many folks believe that there is not anything funny about life or the life they are living … especially if you are sick.  While I was going through cancer treatment I found that laughing was one of the best healing resources that I had access to.  It is during the one time in your life when you think there isn’t a darn thing to laugh about that you need to laugh the most.  Believe me when I say that humor helps to keep you from falling into the biggest danger pit … depression.  Too survive, choose to enjoy the moments of laughter.

I am beginning to believe that my new reputation is that of a crazy lady because of the humor I post on Facebook daily.  I choose to do this because I really do believe that a person needs to laugh at least once a day.  It’s my little way of helping out my friends in a small way to enjoy life.  I hope that everyone enjoys my posts and are laughing! Besides there is way too much negative and hateful stuff on Facebook that is meant to bring us down!

I love true stories that teach us lessons we need to hear.  I have a notebook full of great stories.  So here goes a good one.  Many years ago, American author Norman Cousins was diagnosed as “terminally ill”. He was actually given six months to live. He could see that worry, depression and anger in his life was contributing to his ill health, and perhaps helped cause, his disease. He wondered, “If illness can be caused by negativity, can wellness be created by positivity?” He decided to make an experiment of himself. Laughter was one of the most positive activities he knew so he began to rent all the funny movies he could and read funny stories. One of his favorite TV shows was “Candid Camera.”  His pain was so great that many nights he could not sleep. Then he discovered that laughing for 10 solid minutes relieved the pain for several hours so he could sleep. He fully recovered from his illness and lived another 20 happy, healthy and productive years. He wrote a book about his experiment entitled “Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient: Reflections on Healing.” He fully credits laughter for his recovery.

Like Norman Cousins, I too believe that laughter and being positive just might be the reason that I’m still handing around in pretty decent health.  My own cancer diagnosis of one of the most aggressive cancers, could have definitely brought me down.  But we, as a family, chose to be positive at all stages of the game and use laughter as a coping mechanism.  I’m sure that the folks at Duke University Cancer Center thinks the Talbot Clan is a bit strange from all the laughter, singing and noises coming out of my examination rooms while we waited for the doctors!  I’m not saying that laughter cured me (because TNBC is really not curable), but it definitely has been an overall positive effect on my health.

Laughter

Too many people think that laughter is a waste of time. They say it is a luxury, a frivolity, something to indulge in only every so often. Nothing could be further from the truth. Laughter is essential to our well-being, to our aliveness, to bringing us joy. If we are not well, laughter can help us get well. If we are well, laughter helps us stay that way.   I’m not saying you should start creepily chuckling whenever life gets tough and ignore the tragedy or sadness completely (but creepy laughing is fun) — but the balance you choose can be the difference between victory and defeat … positive or negative outcomes. In times of pain and struggles, remember that humor is your friend.  Even the Savior said “that man is that he might have joy!”  Laughter does brings joy!

So my medical advice to you today using my Doctorate Degree from Google University  …  add laughter to your day!  It’s the best therapy ever and truly good for the soul. It costs nothing to laugh and it has so many benefits to your health and attitude about life. To gain these benefits, I try to make it a point to laugh each day.

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Let me share with you my favorite illustration of laughter.  I’m showing my age but do you remember the classic episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, “Chuckles Bites the Dust.”  In that episode, Mary and her WJM-TV coworkers attend the funeral of Chuckles the Clown.  Chuckles is a character on the station who unexpectedly dies after grand marshaling a circus parade dressed as a peanut. Mary spends most of the episode chastising her coworkers for making jokes about the situation. But during Chuckles’ funeral, Mary starts laughing and can’t stop. When the preacher delivering the eulogy sees Mary, he tells her, “Don’t try to hold it back. Laugh for Chuckles!” At that point, Mary bursts into hysterical sobbing. I believe it is one of the best TV episodes of all time for more than its humor; it points out an irony of life … when faced with stress or sadness, we can laugh and we can cry.

In the words that my granddaughter Katie would use … “Mammie (that’s what my grandchildren call me), laughter has been scientifically proven as a very powerful force. When we laugh, our bodies release endorphins and dopamine … you know: nature’s feel-good chemicals. And … We can better cope with stress, find hope, and see problems in new ways.”  I love to kid with that girl … she’s so darn smart!

My advice is to always surround yourself with happy positive people and those who also make you laugh with them, at them or at yourself. My mother used to say that if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

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Charlie Chaplin wisely observed that “A day without laughter is a day wasted!” Good Ole Charlie knew what he was talking about.  His life was punctuated with so many struggles and losses, yet he managed to be remarkably strong and made a career as a brilliant comedy actor.  I have a picture in my bedroom that reminds me of this every morning! The photo has the words “The MOST wasted of all Days is ONE without LAUGHTER!”

I am so very thankful that my Heavenly Father gave me a good sense of humor.  It has sure gotten me through so many times when life could have held me back in a deep hole.  Right before my sister passed away, she helped those of us sitting around the Hospice room with laughter so many times.  I can still hear her answer the nurse’s question of “how’s your pain?”  My sister would look at me and answer … “I don’t know … ask her … she sitting over there (as she always pointed at me)!”  Cathy was one of the biggest “happifier” that I ever met!  I love and miss her dearly! 

One of my very favorite quotes that reminds me to laugh and to seek joy in my life came from Jimmy Valvano in what I call his “Don’t Ever Give Up” speech.  Here’s the quote:  “To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think! You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”  These words have always inspired me!

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A friend sent me this cartoon last week.  I thought it was so funny … and so true.  Priorities … each day make laughter  a priority too!  Each day can bring hope and joy … it’s really up to you and your attitude!  I choose to laugh often!  Just saying…

 

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