By Sandy Dorrian
Anytime there is a tragedy close to us.... Everything seems
to stop. We stop taking things for granted.
We stop worrying about all of those little things
that “don’t really matter.” We
even stop laughing for a while. The fear and
uncertainty of the scary new world that we find
ourselves in makes it difficult to laugh. It feels
wrong to laugh; it feels somehow disrespectful to
the gravity of the situation.
Or it feels that to allow ourselves to laugh would
require us to “let our guard down” and
make us vulnerable again. At times, it feels like
we would never laugh again. But we did.
As time passes, we slowly recover our laughter.
Tentatively, at first, but then, after a few
weeks or even months, we find the relief that
only laughter can bring. We pick ourselves
up and allow ourselves to share the delightfully
human experience of laughing with each other
again. It feels good.
The fact is, laughter always feels good. It’s
something that we all need. It serves a purpose
and is as important to our health and well-being
as eating and sleeping. The physiological benefits
of laughter have been well documented: increased
immune functioning, lower blood pressure and
aerobic benefits to name a few. What are more
difficult to measure and even to define are the
emotional, social, psychological and spiritual
benefits of laughter.
Laughter brings us together. It is a uniquely
human experience that we all share. Laughter
has an intimacy all its own. Laughing with other
people makes us feel close to them. It makes
us feel like we belong. Laughter calms us down.
It makes us feel safe and at ease. It reduces
the effects of stress on our bodies and our minds.
Laughter is like medicine. It heals our hearts
and our souls. In his book, Man’s Search
for Meaning, Elie Wiesel documented how laughter
even helped people survive Nazi concentration
camps. Laughter is extremely powerful. We should
never give it up voluntarily or allow someone
else to take it away.
Nobody needs to be reminded about
the stress in the world today. There is an undercurrent
of fear and uncertainty to our lives that we
have slowly been getting used to. It’s
because the world is so frightening that we need
laughter now more than ever. The most detrimental
stressors in our lives are those over which we
have no control. And there is nothing over which
we feel less control as individuals than the
constant threat of terrorism and war.
Laughing is the one thing we can always rely
on to make us feel better. It’s something
we all carry with us and can share with each
other anywhere at anytime to help us get through
difficult times. It’s the one way we can
connect with every other human being on the planet – regardless
of race, religious beliefs, language barriers
or political differences. We all need to laugh.
Laughter is more important now than it has ever
been. As each new day brings news of terror and
threats in this world, we should be quick to
comfort ourselves with laughter. If people ask
how we can laugh at a time like this, we should
tell them that we can’t afford not to.
We should refuse to give up this very special
gift that unites all of us as human beings. At
times, it may seem that there’s not much
else we can do. If we give up our laughter, then
the bad guys really will have won.
Sandy Dorrian is a Certified Laughter Leader
and a member of Chicago Laughter Clubs Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.chicagolaughterclubs.com