Laughter – Shortcut to Joy

Yesterday morning, I stumbled to the front door to see if my husband’s birthday present had arrived from Amazon. Standing in my Victoria’s Secret sleeping shirt (not the sexy kind but the literal t-shirt kind) purchased in 2010, with hair all askew and no make-up, I slung upon the door to see the Amazon man leaning over to place the box on the porch. He took one look at me, dropped the package, and practically ran to his truck.

This was not the same reaction I would have received twenty years ago, but who cares, I got the package. I wrote about the incident immediately and posted it on Facebook, only to realize an hour or so later that I had accidentally posted it to LinkedIn. Shockingly, I had zero likes and no offers for consulting business based upon that tidbit.

I finally told the story on Facebook, and I got a lot of laughing emoji’s, but that didn’t have the same effect as sitting in a room laughing with others. Is there any better sound than someone truly losing it over something? My mom had the most contagious laugh in the world, one that we would often wake up to in the middle of the night as she and dad got hysterical over something. We never asked what it was they were laughing at lest we were told, but we would all start laughing in our bedrooms just listening to them laugh.

We need more of that, we need more laughter. When my husband fell recently, I finally asked him what was going through his mind as he stumbled through the house leaning forward precipitously. His response was, “I thought, ‘why am I picking up speed?’ And then I thought, as I stumbled, ‘this is not going to end up well.'” And for the first time since the fall, we started to laugh. Really laugh. Mom and dad in the middle of the night laugh. And suddenly his fall was just a moment in time, just a stumble, and the joy brought by laughter was an instant balm.

When my kids were little, we laughed a lot. I remember when Samantha was about 10 years old, eating a bowl of cereal on the couch. Our new boxer, Riggins, was still a puppy. He somehow managed to get his head under her bowl and then jumped, sending Honey Nut Cheerios and milk into the air and all over Samantha’s face. She turned to look at me, Cheerios dangling like earrings from her hair, and I expected some tears. Instead, we both made eye contact and she started to laugh. Then I laughed. And Riggins danced around sure he had just done something hilarious.

There is a lot of horrible news out there about which we can’t do much. We all seem to have more struggles than we’ve ever had before, brought on by fear and anxiety and illness. But if you want a really short vacation, if you want to be reminded of the joy that is always within your grasp, watch something funny. Hang out with someone who has made laughing an art form. Or just laugh at yourself.

Because in normal day-to-day situations, we always have the option to get angry or to laugh. To talk ourselves into sad stories or funny ones. And as my husband and I have always told each other, no matter how angry we are, if something funny happens, the laugh wins.

I hope that you will let laughter win. Because in its victory, the winner will be you.