Laughter is such a good tonic, but I’ve been missing it lately. Actually, I have only myself to blame. I worried that this would happen, but I quickly got back into my work routine and plowed ahead. My dad was the laughter in my life, and I lost him in 2003.
We were close; and I worried that I would get depressed, so I began to work hard at weighing the sadness against all the blessings he brought into my life. The old hymn, “Count Your Many Blessings”, became a mantra for me during the time he was sick and afterwards.
Dad was the one person who brought laughter to my life–not just a little but a lot. He had a serious side, but you seldom saw it. The funny moments were never at anyone’s expense nor were they disrespectful. Most of the time they were self-derogatory but fleeting. He could also spin a yarn like no other.
I realize now that it takes a certain type of intelligence to do this. He had it, but no one else in my family has it like he did. It wasn’t passed on. What was passed on was our love of laughter.
So now I’m reading that cardiologists tell their heart disease patients that one thing they can do to help themselves is to laugh–a lot. Research on the effects of laughter found that it is the opposite of mental stress. Mental stress causes blood vessels to constrict, which restricts blood flow and raises blood pressure.
Other research shows that laughter has the opposite effect. It has the ability to dilate the blood vessels, which helps blood flow better. Come to think of it, Dad had very low blood pressure.
There are other health benefits to laughter, too, such as improving sleep. There are studies that show that people who laugh more, sleep better. I know for a fact that my dad slept very well. That is how I used to slip out of the house when I was a teenager.
Research also shows that laughter improves memory. In communication studies (I have a Ph.D. in communication), they found that one remembers better when the message is presented through humor.
Children laugh all the time; and while our children are young, so do we. My best friend Jeannie and I used to sip wine and tell stories about the latest escapades of our children. We laughed and laughed–actually, so we wouldn’t lose our minds, but that is beside the point.
So I’m going to begin to try to add the laughter back into my life. We have so many opportunities. I’ll try to DVR more sitcoms. I do have a couple of current ones that I really like. I may even make a point of setting aside 10-15 minutes a day to look things up on the internet. There’s You Tube, a comedy radio station, and much more that I don’t even know exists.
Daddy passed fourteen years ago back in November, but it is my fault that the laughter went with him. I got busy working and forgot all about it. It is my loss, and I need to fix it.
I just didn’t have to work so hard at it before. He made it so easy.
How do you keep the laughter in your life? Did you have someone who made your laugh? Do they still do it?