As a general rule there isn’t much to laugh about at the moment. I’ve even noticed that the news programmes on all channels seem to have largely dispensed with the old ‘and finally’ story which was usually a lighter moment in what was otherwise a rather dull bulletin. The ‘and finally’ was very popular when the news itself was fairly quiet. Everyone was making lots of money, there was little unemployment, the construction and property sectors were noisily booming, designers were raking it in and we enjoyed the odd quirky story about an animal with an amazing talent, a child prodigy or some crazy discovery of the face of Jesus burnt into a crisp or a vegetable shaped like genitalia. Oh how we smirked!
Things have changed and rapidly at that. There’s plenty to talk about in the news these days, even if it is all rather depressing. The unemployment lines are getting longer, businesses are closing by the day, the diggers and cranes have fallen silent, everyone is feeling the pinch, and there is little room for the frivolous ‘and finally’ or any laughter for that matter. And that’s even more depressing than the state of the economy!
It doesn’t matter what the economy is doing. Individually we have always had, and will always have, challenges and difficulties. If it’s not a money problem, it’s a health issue. If you’re in perfect health then maybe the kids are playing up or your mother-in-law is upsetting you. Basically, it’s called life and if your happiness and joy are totally dependent on the circumstances being perfect then prepare for a lifetime of misery. Nobody has perfect circumstances all of the time and the same can be said of a village, town, county, country or the world for that matter.
Lack of laughter
The problem at present is not the amount of problems but the lack of laughter. Too many people have silly illnesses that are, in the main, brought on by stress. Headaches, insomnia and back problems, not to mention all the other stuff like skin problems that flare up when people are under pressure, allergies and old aches that seem to reoccur when the stress starts. I had an old shoulder injury that would always give me trouble if I became excessively stressed or excessively tired. It has been scientifically proven that when we laugh, healing and calming natural chemicals are released into the system. When we laugh it restores what has been removed through the pressures of life. For many of us with our increasingly serious adult problems we neglect to take the time to play and are far too stressed to have any fun. Well life was never meant to be like that. It wasn’t designed to be all work and no play.
The average child laughs over 200 times a day while the average adult only laughs 4 times a day. Now we don’t go from laughing 200 times a day to 4 times a day overnight. It is a gradual process where little by little the pressures of life kill the joy and, by the time most of us reach adulthood, we have forgotten the laugh factor.
Indeed we are almost taught and conditioned not to laugh. Think about the times you were told not to laugh. We were not allowed to laugh at Mass, (ironically we were there to worship the guy who supposedly invented laughter and had removed the misery from the world!), we were told not to laugh in school and, let’s face it, workplaces are often short on laughter too. If peels of laughter are coming from an office it is always assumed that those within are ‘not working’. How many bosses don’t really like to hear the staff laughing and playing? Doesn’t it suggest low productivity and a poor attitude to work? I beg to differ. The opposite of play isn’t work it’s depression. There is no reason why you can’t have fun doing your work. If more people had fun while doing their work everyone would be happier to go there in the first place.
Some people haven’t laughed uproariously in years. In fact I would go so far as to say that some people have forgotten how to do it. We live in a serious world with serious problems where those who are found laughing all the time are thought of as people with low intelligence or special needs or people with psychiatric problems. Well maybe the majority is wrong. Aren’t they the ones laughing and enjoying themselves while the rest of us are wallowing around in our serious problems?
How much better would we all feel if we just decided to lighten up and learned to laugh some more? Being depressed about the state of the economy doesn’t make it any better. Laughing won’t change it either but it will certainly make it easier to bare. We have been conditioned to act miserably when the situation is miserable.
Worrying is pointless
We worry even though our worrying doesn’t get us anywhere. I heard something recently about worrying which I thought was very interesting. It said if you are worrying about something you have no control over then there is little point in worrying as worrying won’t change it and if you are worrying about something that you do have control over then there is little point in worrying because if you have control over it then you can change it! Therefore whether you have control over something or don’t have control over something either way worrying is futile. And in a sense everything there is to worry about in life is wrapped up in either having control or not having control so worrying is always pointless!
Studies have shown that one of the common ingredients in people who live into their Nineties is often the fact that they were joyful people who never forgot how to laugh. Medical science has proven that people who laugh often boost their immune system and lower their blood pressure and people who laugh regularly are 40% less likely to have a heart attack than people who don’t laugh. This laughing business is therefore very serious indeed! Laughter triggers activity in the right side of the brain which helps to release creativity and therefore helps us to make better decisions. And finally laughter releases the body’s natural tranquilisers which help us to calm down and to sleep better. In fact one study showed that people who watched something funny on TV before bedtime got a much better night’s sleep than those who went to bed having watched a news bulletin!
So here’s some homework; find that child inside, lighten up and look for something to laugh about every day. Stop waiting for the weekend, or after work or next month. Find something that makes you laugh today and make sure you do it loudly. It might just catch on.