“Only three things in life are real:
God, human stupidity, and laughter.
But the first two pass our comprehension;
we must do what we can with the third,”
– Aubrey Menen in The Ramayana.
Is God real? Answer to this question depends on who you talk to.
Is human stupidity real? I don’t think there is much disagreement on that subject. I have done many stupid things in my life. And I know you have done the same.
Is laughter real? Yes, laughter is real. But we have to do something about that.
If you find something to laugh about every day then you are doing well. That will compensate for all the stupid things you have done that day, as long as you haven’t hurt somebody deliberately.
I love to laugh. I like to work hard and have fun. And I like to make people laugh – whether it is a member of my family, a friend, a patient I have met for the first time or a server at a restaurant. A funny one-liner is a good way to break the ice. Some people are just too serious and have no sense of humour. They seem to be angry about everything in life. They have no patience. I feel sorry for them. They miss out on so much fun. And this will affect their health.
We all face adversity in life. To survive such adversity is not funny. But laughter is our best weapon against life’s miseries. Scientific studies have repeatedly shown that there is a lot of truth in the old saying, laughter is the best medicine. The happier you are the better you feel. Ashley Montagu has written about the origin of laughter. She says the only animal that speaks is the only animal that laughs. Laughter is an expression of joy and can be infectious. This is one infection worth spreading!
Montagu says, “It is well known laughter has a tonic effect on the mind and body, suffusing the body with a feeling of well-being that few other activities are able to provide, refreshing, relieving, enlivening, and involving the whole body in its happy convulsion.”
We are lucky. We are blessed with the greatest gift of all: capacity to laugh.
Mark Twain said, “The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.” But the weapons we use against our fellow humans are weapons of terror, destruction, greed, treachery and hypocrisy.
In his bestseller, Anatomy of an Illness, Norman Cousins writes about his battle against painful condition of joints and muscles. He says, “I made the joyous discovery that 10 minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anaesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain free sleep.”
Laughter has been known to be therapeutic for many centuries. But laughter is becoming a rare event in most of our lives as the world becomes faster, smaller and complicated. We live in a world of instant gratification and Band-Aid solutions. This does not allow us time to explore the beauty of the gift of laughter.
There are positive and negative aspects of laughter.
In a negative way, people use laughter to intimidate others and gain stature over them by humiliating them. We laugh when we compare ourselves with others and find ourselves superior. We laugh at the infirmities of others.
In a positive way, we laugh in order not to cry. We use laughter as a remedy for painful experiences. We laugh to show our happiness.
The average six years old laughs 300 times a day, the average adult laughs about 170 times a day. Can adults do better? Sure, we can do better if we have the determination to do something about it. First, we need to have a strong desire to live a pain free, stress free, happy and healthy life. Second, we have to be creative so that laughter is fun rather than a chore to be accomplished.
Next week: how laughing makes you stronger, friendlier and sexier.
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