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Just dropping by ... ‘Laughter is the best medicine’

Yevet Tenney for Progressive Dairyman Published on 24 February 2017

According to a recent article in Psychology Today, laughter is the best medicine:
It reduces pain and allows us to tolerate discomfort.
It reduces blood sugar levels, increasing glucose tolerance in diabetics and non-diabetics alike.

It improves your job performance, especially if your work depends on creativity and solving complex problems. Its role in intimate relationships is vastly underestimated, and it really is the glue of good marriages. It synchronizes the brains of speaker and listener so that they are emotionally attuned.

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Laughter establishes – or restores – a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between two people. In fact, some researchers believe that the major function of laughter is to bring people together. And all the health benefits of laughter may simply result from the social support that laughter stimulates.

Laughter: The best medicine

Embarrassing moments can be turned into laughter memories that can elevate us in times of depression and frustration. Erma Bombeck said, “There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.”

Let me share some of the funny things that have happened over the years which have given me laughter support and reminded me that I am not perfect and that is OK. Perfect people without a sense of humor are dull.

When I was 16, I got my first drivers license. I did fine on the written driver’s test, but when it came to the driving part, I had to do some fast thinking that sent terror into the heart of the examiner.

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Our family car was an older-model, brown and white station wagon. The car had a gear shift on the floor that had problems. My dad had made some adjustments and hadn’t tightened up the screws. When we started out on the drive, the examiner was busily taking notes. I grabbed the gear shift bar to change gears, and the entire bar came out in my hand. I waved it around a little trying to get it back into the hole.

The examiner’s face turned pale with shock. I just smiled and thrust the bar back in the hole, “Oh, that happens all the time,” I said. The poor guy was off-balance the rest of the trip. I am not sure he gave me the entire driving test. He seemed urgent to get out of that death trap.

When people ask me about my most embarrassing moment, I always fall back on my date with Dinko Blancovitch. He was smitten with me and I was, to say the least, not interested in him. He was a nice guy, but not for me. I had planned to tell him on this date that he was not the one. We were walking along in the snow, carrying on this horribly serious conversation, when I looked behind me – and there were my pantyhose dragging along in the snow behind me.

To my horror, I realized that I had taken them off, and they had stuck in my pant leg. I put on a new pair and didn’t notice them. Here they were dragging along.

I was too embarrassed to just stop and discreetly pull them off and put them in my purse, so I told Dinko, “I must go in here,” as we were approaching the woman’s restroom. He, not being adept in reading English, followed me right into the woman’s room. I shooed him out with great haste. What a night!

We finally got through the night and parted. I am sure he has found someone who is much more suited to him, and I have been careful to look inside my pant legs before I put on my clothes.

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When we adopted our four children from foster care, we had to fly to Oregon to meet them for the first time. We had talked to the foster parents many times, and were familiar with their voices, but had never seen them. We had pictures of the children.

When we got off the airplane, I saw the children standing behind this nice-looking couple. Naturally, I went up to them and gave them both a hug. After all, they had been so kind as to take care of my new children for nearly a year.

I was puzzled at their odd expressions. Then a person behind me said, “Hi, I am Naomi.” I nearly died. I realize that I had hugged two total strangers, and they had no clue what was happening. Fortunately, they were a sweet understanding couple who said they didn’t mind me hugging them. The children have never forgotten the time Mom hugged strangers in the airport, and we laugh as they remind me now and then.

There is another laughter story that our family teases about every time we take a trip. They know that I am directionally challenged. You don’t give me directions using north and south. You use street names and numbers. Then I still get lost. Once I attended a workshop in Utah.

On my way home to Arizona, I was reveling in how I was making good time and calculating when I would be home when I looked up and saw the sign, “Welcome to Colorado.” I was miles out of my way.

Of course, I am not the only person in the family that has laughter memories to smile about. My husband was ordering parts for his pickup. He always tries to get the best deal, so he calls around to wrecking yards and auto body shops. One day, he transposed some numbers and accidentally got the wrong number.

The conversation went something like this, “Hello, I am looking for used parts.” Silence on the other end of the line. “Do you sell used parts?” The exasperated voice on the other end said, “This is a funeral home.”

When we bought my mother her first computer, it was voice-activated. She was in her early 80s and didn’t know anything about computers. We taught her how to turn it on and do a few simple commands. One day, I came to visit her. She seemed a little nervous.

“I don’t think I like that computer,” she said. “Why?” I wanted to know. She said, “I was sitting at my desk working, and I had papers all over, and that computer said, ‘Your desktop is cluttered; do you want me to clean it?’ It was so weird. I don’t want the thing in the house. It was like a ghost.” I didn’t want to make her feel bad by laughing at her, but I couldn’t help it while I explained it was not her desk that was dirty; it was the screen on her computer that needed cleaning.

Even the Bible tells us that laughter is good:

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

The Lord intended for us to laugh. Rejoicing has a big part to play in rejoicing:

Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: . . The LORD hath done great things . . .”
—Psalms 126:2

Laughter is one of those blessings in life that makes everything better. It can turn a cloudy day into sunshine, and depression into joy. Laughter can change a tense situation into a funny memory that can be shared for many a joyful future moment. We need to laugh at ourselves in situations of tension to relieve the stress.

Life is full of enough sadness and frustration. We need to lighten up and allow ourselves to feel the joy the Lord intended.

Henry Ward Beecher said, “A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.” (25 quotes humor)

Laughter can keep you young. When you take life too seriously, you lose the childlike magic of living. My dad is such a good example at his young age of 95. He loves a good joke and will share it with everyone who comes to visit. Michael Pritchard said, “You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.” (Best quotes poems)  end mark

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