The power of laughter is a luxury mankind needs to foster

One of the saddest statements that I have heard from a friend was that he had stopped laughing.

One of the saddest statements that I have heard from a friend was that he had stopped laughing.

He went on to say to me: “But you are helping me to laugh again.”

Whereas I appreciated the compliment, it was sad to hear that the person had stopped laughing.

I do not text, twitter, face book or any of these electronic forms of communication, but I understand that there is a new kind of language that has been developed.

Texters use a new form of shorthand. Their communication might look something like this: WRUD (what are you doing?) NMU (not much, you?) JAD (just another day) M2 (me too)

To show some humour in the conversation, a texter may end the conversation with LOL (Laughing out loud).

The truth is many of us do not laugh out loud, especially when we are alone.

I come from a family in which there was much laughter. My father used to say, always try to leave a friend smiling. Our youngest brother is a stand up comedian in Los Angeles.

At the age of 75, he still has people laughing.

I once asked him what he does when he can’t get his audience to laugh.

He responded that he has some real “dead-ringers” that would make anyone laugh and if they still don’t laugh, I simply say, “Enjoy your drink and have a good night.”

You just can’t force people to laugh. Comedians have to be very sensitive to their audience and to read them well.

Laughter can be so contagious, that we join in even when we don’t know what there is to laugh about.

On Sunday as we sat around with family members, including two of my grandchildren, I suggested that we all needed a laugh and so we proceeded to start laughing together, so hilariously that we almost could not stop.

It was great fun, just to laugh together.

Why do we laugh? Researchers say that we will laugh when a joke goes in a different direction than the one that we expected. Laughter conveys a sense of pleasure.

Babies discover the ability to laugh when they are only a few months old. Researchers say that young children laugh 400 hundred times a day compared to adults three times a day,

Scientists say that older people are less likely to laugh at a joke, but will roar with laughter at slap-stick comedy. Some of us laugh to break the tension or when we are nervous or embarrassed.

What then are the benefits of laughter? Laughter is a tranquilizer without any side affects.

Although the purpose of human laughter is still largely unknown, having a sense of humour is a key part of our personalities and it can play a powerful role in balancing negative emotions such as fear and anxiety.

King Solomon knew this long ago when he said, “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22)

Abraham Lincoln bearing up under the weight of the presidential office said, “With the frightful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh, I should die.”

We know that humour promotes physiological well-being, raises self-esteem and can reduce anxiety, stress and tension and improve the immune system.

Comedian Red Skelton ,who was a master at making people laugh, said, “ I live by this credo, Have a little laugh at life and look around you for happiness, instead of sadness. Even in your darkest moment, you usually can find something to laugh about, if you try hard enough.”

As a person living with Parkinson’s disease, I sometimes have difficulty getting dressed. I find myself putting both legs into one side of my pants and all I can do is laugh at myself.

Laughter is contagious so it helps to be around happy people. It is good to find them wherever we can and develop lasting friendships.

Laughter is the cheapest luxury that mankind has. It stirs up the blood, expands the chest, electrifies the nerves, clears away the cobwebs from the brain and gives the whole system a cleansing experience.

Jesus had a remarkable sense of humour and used it effectively, especially when relating to religious leaders. God bless you in your laughter.

Albert Baldeo is a retired United Church minister.

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