Our world continues to grow in complexity and intensity. As we sort through the events of the past year and we are reminded of the best and worst that occurred across the globe, in our communities and in our own homes, one item that is routinely missed in these year-end summaries is remembering when we laughed the most.
Laughter is the universal symbol for moments of happiness, peace, and human connection. These moments don’t last forever, but laughter remains an essential ingredient for our emotional health and well-being.
As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, we all need to ensure we keep an adult-size dose of laughter as part of our daily habits to maintain our perspective in a world that continues to try and focus exclusively on the serious and concerning issues of the day.
Modern science has continually proven the old proverb that laughter really is the best medicine. Recent studies completed at several academic medical centers show a good laugh can lower our blood pressure, protect our heart, improve brain functioning, elevate our mood and reduce stress. Laughter is a solid workout for our diaphragm, lungs, and even our facial muscles. Laughter is the original “core” workout as it tones intestinal functioning and strengthens the muscles of the abdominal wall.
Even though the worries of this world will not go away, as we look into the new year, let’s all remember to lighten up a bit and fill the prescription for a little laughter as we look forward to doing great things in the year ahead. Here are a few suggestions to help get the required dose of laughter to strengthen our connections with others, especially those closest to us in our homes.
- Our own uniquely created family humor is most often the best. There is usually one self-depreciating soul in the family that is comfortable reminding others at the holiday gathering about one of his/her stupid and funny mistakes that still unites the family in laughter. The stories may involve throwing up at the dinner table, someone peeing in their pants after “the driver” refused to stop at the last exit, ripping their pants at the start of the wedding, or old Uncle Harry belching during a quiet moment at church. Laughter strengthens families.
- If we run short of family humor, there is always a classic comedy movie to get us laughing. A good scene from the Blue Brothers (“Hey you fat penguin!”), Tommy Boy (“Richard, is there a mark on my face?”), and Tin Men (“Ok Mr. Merengue, let’s dance!”) can always generate a good laugh.
- When old movies fail to get us laughing, there are usually a few good examples in history when “the experts” got it all wrong and we can smile knowing that even the smart folks make mistakes:
- “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” Charles H. Duell, Commissioner of the Office of Patents in 1899.
- “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM in 1943.
- “You haven’t got through college yet.” An Atari executive as he turned down Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak who were pitching the idea of developing a personal computer.
- And last, but certainly not least and if all of the above fail to get us laughing, watch a few episodes of Saturday Night Light Live on YouTube…anyone “need more cow-bell?”
Laughter helps to lower stress, put our problems in perspective, and build connections with others. As we remind each other to consistently get a good dose of laughter each and every day, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to have a positive impact on those around us.