|If this wig ain't funny, I don't know what is. |
Maybe the fact that I wore the tag too.
The Power of Laughter
I love to laugh, but who doesn’t? Well, lots of folks. I’d love to do a study on those people who say that they love to laugh and adore anything humorous but hardly ever laugh. I’d analyze why they think they are laughing when they are not and then I’d study their loved ones.
Laughter increases the body’s endorphins; those wonderful peptides which function as neurotransmitters acting like natural opiates producing a feeling of well-being.
So why don’t we laugh more often? As long as I can remember, I have been given those not so subtle messages which say that if something is funny, it can’t be serious. Even worse is the idea that if something is spiritually deep, then it really shouldn't be funny. Seriously, have you seen the Dalai Lama? That dude is always laughing.
Some people are so spiritually minded that they are no earthly good. Now, before you get deep on me and point out that this is impossible because the more spiritual you become, the more good you can do in the earth, back it up. To be spiritual in your head is all about the ritual and religion of it. When our hearts and minds are in alignment, you start to laugh with the Dalai Lama. Which takes me back to the gap between the head and the heart; the alignment of the two enables our spirit to truly soar.
Laughter is good for the soul, and it turns out that it’s good for the body as well. It’s hard to think of laughter when we are in pain, but laughter with its analgesic producing ability eases stress and pain. There are now laughing yoga classes where people go to ---you guessed it, laugh.
It turns out that just the practice of ha ha ha ha ha h ah ah a ha, is helpful. Try it in the mirror and see if you don’t laugh. Try it in front of others and you will at least hear laughter.
There is a huge gap between what we think is funny and what we think is appropriate. What we laugh at in private is not even close to what we’d say publicly. This gap is also the distance between our head and our heart.
As a sociologist, I have a leg up on being able to get people to laugh. We make observations about life in general and get so specific with it that even the smallest detail of life is reduced even further. We understand groups and group behavior enabling us to understand what makes that group work. Seeing the funny in something is much easier when you can see why something exists in the first place.
But I didn’t learn about laughter in a classroom; I learned the power of humor while growing up in poverty from my mother and my sister Chris.
We laughed about not having enough and we laughed about how one day we would. When there was no food to eat my mother would tell us that we were having “Poke rolls and grits.” “Poke your mouth out, roll your eyes and grit your teeth,” she’d say, “because that’s all your getting.”
We laughed and went to sleep hungry. I think back on how sad my mother must have been but I also see that she was wise enough to make us laugh. I know that my mother didn’t know anything about no endorphins, but she knew that if we laughed, we wouldn’t be in too much pain.
One day my brother Brent came home after listening to a street corner philosopher and declared that there was no God; that instead he was god. My sister Chris looked at Brent for the longest time and then said, “Okay God, fix the holes in the bottoms of your shoes,” and then she just walked away. Anytime something needs to be repaired my siblings will say, “Hey, let’s call Brent, he can fix it.”
Laughter truly does a body good.
Today, get off of that high horse and laugh. Make someone laugh. Call a family member who knows the story behind an inside joke and just share the punch line.
Align your head and your heart with the funny of life and be healed.
Be you, be well, be fun
Bertice Berry, PhD.