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Is it Easy to Laugh at a Time Like this?

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 Web:

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