Sunday, February 12, 2012

Day 43 of Your Year to Wellness; On Laughter

My impersonation of the mythical Chupacabra
The Healing Power of Laughter

Alice Walker once wrote that “There is a point at which grief becomes absurd; at that point laughter gushes up to retrieve the sanity.”

Yesterday, I asked you to see the good in all things and today, I will ask you to find the humor.

Laughter is a powerful tool. That’s the reason why there are so many fat comediennes; we fat folks learn to be funny so that people laugh with us and not at us.

When I was a kid and people made fun of my big butt, I was always ready to come back at them. “I can lose weight, but you will always have those Fred Flintstone feet,” I once told my teenage tormentor. When I saw her again for the first time in over 30 years, she loudly commented on how I had finally been able to lose weight and I just looked down at her feet. (She left the event.)

It is a tradition among blacks and Irish folks to hold a wake or re-pass when someone has died. We gather and share stories about the deceased. These stories are always heart-felt but many are humorous. They lift the spirits of those in attendance and raise the memory of the dead to the level of something close to sainthood. The good is not interred with the bones of our loved ones as Shakespeare observed in Julius Caesar.  We laugh and sing the praises of our loved ones so there is healing for the loss.

It has been said that laughter is the flip-side of tragedy, but laughter can also occur on its own. Laughter does not need to tear down nor does it have to be a weapon, though when I travel, I keep my laughter loaded for all the angry folks.

I love the laughter that comes from seemingly nowhere and unexpected jokes. I adore people who laugh often and easily opening their hearts and minds to life.

One of the reasons that I am often asked to come back over and over again to lecture for folks who are already at the top of their game is my ability to make people laugh. I have come to see that smart, hard-working and dedicated people love to laugh as much as they love to think, but they don’t have the opportunity to do it enough.

Not everything makes everyone laugh. Laughter, like anything else is learned behavior and unfortunately in American culture, our laughter is based in put-downs.

Today, I’d like you to find humor that lifts you up.

A few days ago, I recorded my daughter cooking. She saw me coming with the camera and decided to make the Cornish hens dance to the music she’d been listening to. There is something magical about a hen dancing to John Legend’s “Take it Slow.”

Laughter has been proven to have a positive impact on your health. It releases endorphins; the brain chemical that enables us to feel good. The very act of laughing can make you laugh. There are practices of meditation designed to make you laugh and laugh more. (I have a hard time doing the ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha h a h, okay but now that I’m typing it I’m starting to see the humor.)

Laughter also enables us to bond. We have more in common around humor than we do religion or politics. Have you ever noticed that you like the people who get your humor? Make someone laugh and you have a friend; join in the laughter and you have a friend for life.

There is a great deal of sadness and tragedy in the world. Laughter raises our spirits and enables us to see the big picture.

·         Laugh, do it now; I know where you live---or tweet.

·         Share a joke with someone.

·         Do something unexpected and make someone laugh.

·         How did it make them feel?

·         How does that make you feel?

Last night, when I heard of the death of Whitney Houston, I thought of the death of one of the children I raised. For a moment, I began to sink into sadness and then I recalled how my incredibly beautiful girl could make the funniest faces. She’d cross her eyes and twist her face so I’d laugh and forget whatever it was that made me sad.

We all suffer hard times. Don’t let those hard times take you under. Allow laughter to retrieve your sanity.

Be you, be well, Be the laughter

Bertice Berry, PhD
Later that day with the very real, very funny singer, song writer Vinx at his song-writer's workshop, Soul Kitchen

1 comment:

  1. Laughter is also a great way to heal, in every way, because it brings us to present time. Being in present time os the ONLY time in which we can heal ourselves. Laughter is the best!