The challenges of the past two years clearly bring to light the benefits of having ‘upbeat’ habits, and skills to generate optimism, humor and compassion for us earthlings. Whole-hearted health requires being upbeat in the face of the tough stuff that’s happening. It means being able to list towards the lighter side — to “look for the silver lining,” as Jerome Kern and B.G. deSylva’s 1919 song advises.
To have maximal immunity to stress, depression or illness, we need to be able to laugh out loud, LOL. As a young woman, I used to be depressed sometimes for months, taking everything so seriously (especially myself!). Laughs were in short supply. Thank goodness for the decades of life experience I’ve chalked up that enabled me to shift. I have to thank many funny people in my life that evoked my sense of humor — a word of Latin derivation that means to be in the flow of things. And every day brings opportunities to attune to comedic perspectives, the light-hearted (not mean-spirited) variety –and to actually laugh!! It’s so vital, so life-giving!
When my own anxiety and sadness lightened, I regained my trust in spontaneity. I gave workshops and lectured on the power of humor, play, and creative Improvisation. Meanwhile, scientific studies were proving that laughter actually is good medicine. Remember Dr.”Patch” Adams? Nearly kicked out of med school for wearing a red clown nose on the children’s cancer wards? His stuffy ‘superiors’ were blind to his genius in giving kids just what they needed: The joy and belonging that laughing together bestows.
Today, we know that laughing is a safe, proven, non-pharmacological alternative to pain or doldrums. Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert (author of Stumbling on Happiness) describes laughing as a D.O.S.E. of well-being: Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Endorphins. All coming from our cellular pharmacy for the price of a breath of fresh air — with no negative side effects! Laughter is also the second best full body release of tension (can you guess the first, LOL?). Furhtermore, it’s a blood-stream oxygenator, immunity booster, natural pain killer (endorphins), digestion helper and longevity increaser. Laughter, humor is FUNdamental to wellness and well-being.
But what’s much better than knowing the science behind prescriptions for laughter, is actually laughing out loud! So, in the interest of health and happiness, I’ll share a true tale about Andrew Carnegie — a charitable man, but who believed that we should work for what we get. One day, after several years as the sole supporter for the local symphony orchestra, Mr. Carnegie decided it was high time for the fundraisers to earn their keep. “You will no longer get your entire budget from me,” he told the stunned representatives. “I will contribute only an amount equal to the donations you get from other sources.” The fundraisers departed in shock, but returned two days later, with $3.5 million dollars –half the symphony’s budget! Carnegie was really impressed. “I hope this teaches you young folks a valuable lesson,” he said. “May I ask where you raised such a large sum of money –and so quickly?” The head of the fundraising department smiled: “We got it from Mrs. Carnegie.”
From “Cosmic Half-Affirmations” by Shanti Goldstein
1. Blessed are the flexible, for they can tie themselves into knots.
2. I am at one with my duality.
3. I can change any thought that hurts into a reality that hurts even more.
4. The screen is always darkest before the next program begins.
5. The first step is to say nice things about myself. Second, do nice things for myself. Third, find someone to buy me nice things.
6. I am willing to make the mistakes, if someone else is willing to learn from them.
7. If I am really quiet and listen really hard, I can hear Howard Stern in my fillings.
8. Every day I love and pleasure myself. But do I respect myself in the morning? And how come I never call?
Shining delight, Yours in a word, LOL, Marcia