The 7L's: Laugh More
"I never would have made it if I could not have laughed. It lifted me momentarily out of this horrible situation, just enough to make it livable." - Victor Frankl, an Auschwitz survivor, on using laughter as a tool of survival during his time in the concentration camps.
I hope you’ve had the opportunity to read about my new framework that I introduced in previous posts on the The 7L’s for Living a Wonderful Life. I shared some insights on the first L, Love yourself more; the 2nd, Learn more; and the 3rd, Listen more. For this post, I wanted to focus on the one that probably gives me more joy than all the others and has provided soothing at some of the most challenging times in my life, my L4-Laugh more! Just today, as I am into my second month of recovery from a total knee replacement surgery and in a physical therapy session, my physical therapist put me on my stomach and bent my recovering knee at an angle that sent shooting pain waves up my leg and even spine. I wanted to cry out, but instead I laughed heartily, causing the therapist to laugh as well. That laughter certainly helped mitigate my pain.
Throughout my life, I have found laughter to be a great friend. Laughing more is just plain good for your heart, soul and even some say for your whole body. From a scientific point-of-view, we know that laughter releases endorphins in our brains that make us happier and make it easier to form social bonds with others. We also know that laughter can be contagious and accelerates the expansion of our social circles. Personally, I think that when we laugh more, we don’t take ourselves so seriously. Laughing helps lighten up our moods, which can have amazingly positive effects on ourselves and those around us.
Probably one of the greatest moments of laughter that I have experienced, came about inside a prison. I was part of a team hosting a religious retreat for prisoners in a New York state medium-security facility in Staten Island. On Saturday night we had a celebration for the inmates attending the retreat and we asked each of the retreat table groups, consisting of both inmates and non-inmates leading the retreat, to act out certain bible verses. One of the tables had drawn the verse describing the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. The group took the mop strings off of a mop to put on the person playing Mary, while they took the largest team member of the group, my dear friend Mike, and put a big sheet on him as if it was a diaper. Then, the four table members carried Mike in his diaper through the retreat room in a procession, of course accompanied by Mary and Joseph. The site of my friend being carried (just barely) caused the entire room to engage in gut-splitting laughter that probably lasted for several minutes. Even now, despite this experience happening well over 20 years ago, the memory continues to bring me immense joy and happiness.
And so, I hope you will find ways to integrate more laughter in your life. Not only will it make you happier, it will also make others around you happier as well! What can you do today to invite more laughter into your life? How can you share this laughter with others? They say that when you laugh more, the whole world laughs with you.