Get more chuckles from life | Sunday Observer

Get more chuckles from life

Many of us know that a good laugh is more than mere fun – it is a sign of good health. If you are physically or mentally suffering from some disease, you will not bother to laugh. Sometimes you might begin to hate those who laugh and enjoy life. When you smile while making sounds with your voice it is an indication that you are thinking of something funny. We like to associate with people who laugh and take life lightly. Some people are really funny and they make us laugh. If you read a book of jokes, you will laugh out loud.

A man was carrying a grandfather clock down a crowded street to a repair shop. The huge clock on his shoulder obstructed his vision and eventually he knocked against a beautiful girl rushing to her workplace. When she got up with some difficulty and collected her handbag and umbrella, the man apologized to her profusely. The girl, still fuming with indignation, shot back, “Why don’t you wear a wristwatch like everybody else?” After reading the episode in a book of jokes, I laughed out loud. Through my experience I have found that most doctors are very serious people, and rarely smile or laugh. However, Raymond A. Moody, Jr. a Georgia physician was credited with his sense of humour for getting him through the terrible grind of medical school. In his long years of medical training, his professors never mentioned a word about the health benefit of laughter. After leaving the medical college he wrote a book titled, “Laugh after Laugh: The Healing Power of Humor”. In his book he says, “I came to feel that a human being’s ability to laugh is just as valid an indicator of his health as are all those other things that doctors check.”

Today, many members of the medical profession believe that laughter has numerous health benefits. A Stamford University researcher William Fry Jr., has studied the beneficial effects of laughter for more than 30 years. He says, “When we laugh, muscles are activated. When we stop laughing, these muscles relax. Since muscle tension magnifies pain, people with arthritis, rheumatism and other painful conditions benefit greatly from a healthy dose of laughter. Many headache sufferers feel the same relief.”

Many people face the problem of getting more laughter into their lives. Modern psychologists suggest various solutions to overcome this problem. Among them the most prominent advice is to mix with people who laugh. You will at once remember the clowns at circuses, who make you laugh. They are in fact paid to do so. Nancy Alguire, a teacher in Clifton Park, N.Y. had a hard time laughing because she was shy. After getting married to a circus enthusiast, she became intrigued with the clowns. One day, she put on a costume and asked a clown to paint her face. It transformed her life. She learned to laugh and enjoy life to the full from then onwards. According to her, you stand to gain by mixing with people who enjoy life and laughter.

Hartley Coleridge, in his poem “Address to Certain Goldfishes” wrote:

“On this hapless earth

There’s small sincerity of mirth,

And laughter oft is but an art

To down the outcry of the heart.”

Featherless bipeds

His address to gold-fishes is equally valid for featherless bipeds. As we are rational animals or intelligent humans, we can practise the art of laughing regularly. A Santa Barbara, California, Annette Goodheart Psychotherapist, was treating a patient who was a chronic worrier. Goodheart asked the patient to make a “worry list.” Then she asked her to read her long list of worries. Goodheart advised her to say, “Tee Hee” at the end of each day. The patient hesitated a little and then started laughing. She felt very much relieved.

According to Goodheart, “Laughter is like putting a key in a car ignition. When you insert the key, the engine catches and turns over. It’s the same with a fake laugh. Your diaphragm interprets it as a real one and, before you know it, a genuine laugh follows.”

If you want to laugh when you’re down and out, maintain a humour scrapbook and read it whenever you are free. You can collect jokes, cartoons and every day events that make you laugh. Here’s an entry from my own humour scrapbook: “The young couple stood on the railway platform kissing and kissing each other for several minutes. When the engine whistled the woman broke away from the man’s arms and ran sobbing to the train. An elderly woman who was witnessing the whole scene went over to the crying girl to comfort her. “There there,” she soothed the crying woman. “I know how it is. You’re crying because you have to leave your husband.” “No,” wailed the young woman. “I’m crying because I’m going to him now.”

Greeting cards

I also have a photograph of a big shop in Chennai, India, taken some years ago. The shop had a funny notice on the wall. It said,“Enter from the back.” Sometimes I get funny greeting cards and zany stickers. One sticker said, “Never put off till tomorrow what you can put off till next week.” How can I throw away such precious advice?

In the good old days, an English daily newspaper had a regular column “Below the Bench” written by a young lawyer. It carried funny episodes from courts leaving out the names of litigants. I do not see such columns in today’s newspapers. Then there was Amitha Abeysekera who ran a daily column of humour in “The Island.” The column became so popular that even readers started contributing their humorous stories to “This is My Island.” Today, in the absence of local writers contributing humorous stories, many newspapers use funny stories from foreign countries. Sometimes I wonder whether we have lost our sense of humour.

Through humour, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. Comedian Bill Cosby said, “Once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.” Gary Alan Fine, a sociology professor at the University of Minnesota, says laughter is a skill we can acquire because it comes naturally. But it is also something that has to be nurtured. Will Rogers summed it up by saying, “We’re just here for a spell, so get a few laughs.”

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