And then we Laughed!

I was listless and well, yes, bored and also aching to write something but of all the million topics that buzzed in my head, not even one appealed to me in this mood.

So I went through my cache of photographs and illustrated quotes. One jumped at me and made me smile…a broad smile that raised my cheek muscles and my spirits.


It’s one I designed a long, long time ago with pictures of my family – their broad grins held their mirth over the years and kindled my sagging spirits. I come from a family that laughs a lot…jokes…and teases. And I have this gift of being able to laugh even in the face of my biggest challenges and pains. I’m not saying I don’t feel the pressure; the stress, disappointments, pain or even anger. I do.

“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.”Viktor Frankl

However, through it all, I find the little moments of humor. Small things: the way I said, did or reacted to something or someone. The manner in which something occurred. Mostly, it’s in my situation and my responses. I see the brighter side, I see the worst that did not happen. I laugh and make others laugh with me.

When I feel immense pain… emotional or physical, I find something funny about something {even in the situation!} and lighten the burden.

I recall how many years back we, as a family, had gathered at my eldest sister’s place for the funeral of her elder son. He was a young Captain in the Army and had been killed fighting insurgents in a trouble-torn area of the country. We were weighed down with immense grief. Each one had their own pain and was trying hard to lend moral support to the parents and the brother of our hero.

He was given a martyr’s funeral with full military honor. Flag-draped coffin, gun salute… a funeral service conducted by the bishop and a large turn out of people {we didn’t even know}, journalists from newspapers and TV channels. Afterwards, we returned exhausted; emotionally and physically spent. The shock of his unexpected death had not worn off.

“As soap is to the body, so laughter is to the soul.”A Jewish Proverb

As we sat in the living room sobbing quietly, unable to look too long at each other as it sent us into fresh bouts of crying, my sis mentioned how much he loved life and how active and enthusiastic he had been – a live wire even as the leader of his commando unit. A true leader who inspired his men!

Soon each one added their memories of him as a child, teenager, young man. Before we knew it, unknowingly, we were all recounting the most hilarious incidents, and there were many. And then we laughed! Our tears of sorrow mingled with our tears of laughter as we shared our memories, and our sorrow too. It lightened each one’s agony and changed the atmosphere of gloom in the room. Read here

The sound of our laughter was heard by the neighbors who were appalled.

We had just returned from a funeral.

We had lost our precious loved one.

Had we all gone off our rockers with the grief?

Sometimes laughing or crying are the only options you have and laughing felt better at the time.

In our country, this was not only an unusual response to grief but also an unacceptable one. My sister had to explain to the neighbor (who knocked at the door to ask if all was well) why we were laughing and about what. How we were honoring him through our memories and also the way it made us deal better with our immense pain and shock.

“Laughter lets me relax. It’s the equivalent of taking a deep breath, letting it out and saying, ‘This, too, will pass’.”Odette Pollar

Needless to say, it helped and we were able to think about what we had to do next. With the whole family there and all from different parts of the country, there was a lot that had to be seen to.

Laughter is more than a bridge between people. It does more than just connect, it improves health. How does this work?

According to research, laughing doesn’t just lighten your mental load, it induces physical changes in your body.

Laughter stimulates organs. Activates and relieves stress response. Soothes tension.

When you laugh your pulse and heart rate increases and you breath faster. It enhances your intake of oxygen.

Stimulates the heart, lungs, and muscles.

Reduces stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine, and DOPAC (from a study in 2008)

Laughter produces positive thoughts and feelings and together they soothe tension.

Reduces Pain

Laughing causes an increase in endorphins, natural painkillers. Endorphins are produced by the central nervous system and pituitary glands. Endorphins inhibit the transmission of pain signals and could produce a feeling of euphoria.

According to Dr. Dunbar of Oxford University, laughing reduces pain, and laughing with other people than alone is better at relieving pain.

Boosts Immune System

Some studies have shown that stress has a negative impact on health. It decreases natural killer cell levels, these are the white blood cells which attack cancer cells. Laughter helps to reduce stress and increase the white blood cells that fight infections.

This is why Patch Adams advocated laughter and humor in hospitals. Laughter clubs are becoming more popular in countries like Japan and scientists are conducting clinical trials to see if there are any changes in physical well-being or psychologically as a result of mirthful laughter.

So don’t ever let a day go without a smile, a laugh; without humor! Laughter may not solve the problem but it dissolves the stress and tension and helps in boosting your health.

“Always laugh when you can, it is cheap medicine.” 
― George Gordon Byron

















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