Laugh and Live Longer

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Welcome to Health and Wellness Wednesday. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “Laughter is the best medicine,” but do you know how important laughter actually is to your well-being?

My fourth Toastmasters speech is about laughter. Here’s the video, but for those of you who don’t have time to view it or can’t access it, the speech is typed out below.

You buy a week’s worth of groceries, load them in the trunk, hop into the passenger seat, and wait for your husband to get in and drive, only to realize you’re by yourself.

You’re working at your desk. The phone rings and you press it to your ear, but there’s no sound because you grabbed the stapler.

You pay to fill up your tank at the gas station, get a few miles down the freeway and notice you’re almost on empty. Ding-dong! You forgot to pump the gas after you paid for it.

It’s good to poke fun at ourselves.

Comedian Milton Berle said, “Laughter is an instant vacation.”

We all need a little giggle get-away, and everyday life is full of hilarious stuff.

My friend, Jennette Marie Powell, told me a lot of the guests at her wedding had a hard time not busting up when she and her husband knelt at the altar. It turned out the groomsmen had put tape on the bottoms of her husband’s shoes with HELP ME written on the tape!

Another friend, Jolene Navarro, shared some real-life stories: “My family has a dark sense of humor,” she said. “My father was only 49 when he was killed in a plane crash. Heavy sadness, lots of tears and grief, but also lots of laughter for a life lived without regret.”

Jolene’s mother was talking to the funeral director and couldn’t stop laughing when he offered her the more expensive urns. “Roger would die if I spent that much on a vase,” she said.

Jolene continued, “Ten years later, we followed our mother’s wishes and had her cremated. At her memorial we got notice that the urn would not be there on time. They asked if we wanted to wait.

“We cracked up. A few hundred people looked at us like we were crazy. My dad had always said Cindy would be late to her own funeral. Well, we went ahead and started without her.

I love how Jolene summed it all up: “Life has deep, dark moments of tears. You have to balance it with humor, even at inappropriate times. Maybe especially at inappropriate times.”

I found a cool quote by Michael Pritchard: “You don’t stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop laughing.”

Medical studies reveal how laughter promotes longevity. It boosts our immune systems, reduces stress, lowers high blood pressure, is good for our hearts, relaxes muscles, can lessen pain, helps bond relationships, and gives us strength to deal with rough times.

Children laugh an average of 300 times a day, but for adults, it’s only 15 times.

What can we grownups do about that?

My online research yielded some good guidelines. For instance, get a pet.

Join a laughing yoga class. Yes, there really is such a thing!

Writer Winsome Coutts says, “Laughter is a valuable part of your authentic happiness! Laughing each and every day is as good for you physically, emotionally and spiritually as taking your vitamins and getting exercise.”

Here are a few of his suggestions: “Play and be silly with small children.

“Look into laughing therapy. There are schools and therapists out there that will help you ‘learn’ to laugh.

“Play fun games that induce laughing. Games like charades and Pictionary™ are good examples.” (My personal favorite is Balderdash.)

“Watch funny movies or TV programs.”

Of course, humor is subjective. What’s funny to me might not be funny to you.

Are there certain things that always make you smile? There are some things that never fail to tickle my funny bone, like silly animal flicks, baby laughter, and when people imitate their pets.

The world is full of comedy. YouTube has tons of humorous clips.

Do any of you remember the episode on The Mary Tyler Moore Show about the funeral of Chuckles the Clown? Before the funeral began, Lou looked around. “I wonder which ones are the other clowns?”

Murray said, “We’ll know soon because they’re all going to jump out of a little hearse.”

Mary scolded them for being disrespectful when a man had just died.

Then the minister talked about the characters created by Chuckles, such as Peter Peanut, Billy Banana, Aunt Yoo-Hoo, and Mr. Fee Fi Fo, who had a little catch phrase whenever he got knocked down and would pick himself up and dust himself off. He’d say, “I hurt my foo-foo.”

Mary got the giggles and couldn’t hold them in. Then she tried to cover up when people looked at her. (Cough, cough – press lips together, gesture.) You have to watch it on YouTube to get the full impact. It’s seriously funny! I had tears streaming down my cheeks.

There’s another video clip that I bust up over. Maybe you’ve heard it? A woman called in to a radio station to complain about the placement of deer crossing signs.

She said, “I mean, why are we encouraging deers to cross at the interstate? I don’t get it. That’s such a high-traffic area.”

The DJ was speechless.

The woman continued: “It’s so irresponsible of us to allow these deer crossings to be in areas where they are likely to be struck by oncoming traffic. You’d think they’d put deer crossings in smaller towns, maybe like at a school crossing. It would be a safer place for them to cross.”

Finally, the DJ responded: “They aren’t telling deer to cross there. It’s just more of an alert for drivers so they know it’s a high deer population.”

The woman: “The government put the deer crossing there. They can direct the deer population anywhere they want to by moving that deer crossing sign.”

DJ: “You seem to be under the misunderstanding that the deer are attracted to the deer crossing sign.”

Woman: “Well, yeah, the deer crossing sign is there to let the deer know that’s where they need to cross.”

DJ: “Right. And all these accidents you had occurred after you saw a deer crossing sign?”

Woman: “Exactly.”

See what I mean?

And then there are the one-liners that always lift our spirits:

If at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving isn’t for you.

(Long pause.) I just got lost in thought. It was unfamiliar territory.

On the other hand, you have different fingers.

Remember what Dr. Seuss said: “From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.”

I wholeheartedly agree, folks, so be sure that each and every day you Get your giggle on!

That was a fun speech. I hope you enjoyed it.

For more info on the fascinating benefits of laughter, check out this super informative and interesting article on Health and Families. It’s worth taking a few moments to read.

My friend, Steve Attkisson, suggests reading this funny book: Anatomy of an Illness by Norman Cousins.

The best-selling, groundbreaking classic by Norman Cousins on combating life-threatening illness through humor and patient participation in care.

“Anatomy of an Illness was the first book by a patient that spoke to our current interest in taking charge of our own health. It started the revolution in patients working with their doctors and using humor to boost their bodies’ capacity for healing. When Norman Cousins was diagnosed with a crippling and irreversible disease, he forged an unusual collaboration with his physician, and together they were able to beat the odds. The doctor’s genius was in helping his patient to use his own powers: laughter, courage, and tenacity. The patient’s talent was in mobilizing his body’s own natural resources, proving what an effective healing tool the mind can be. This remarkable story of the triumph of the human spirit is truly inspirational reading.”

Sounds like a wonderful book to me!

Buy the Twentieth Anniversary Edition on Amazon
Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient (Twentieth Anniversary Edition)

Do you think laughter is healthy? Do you have a favorite one-liner you’d like to share? Has laughter helped you deal with difficult times? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you!

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15 Responses to Laugh and Live Longer

  1. This tickled me. You know how much I love to laugh. I have a lot of kids (as you know) and decided to let everyone dress themselves by the time they were two. We headed off to the store one day and when I was getting everyone out of the car I noticed Christopher had nothing on but underwear (he explained that I said for them to dress comfortably). Into the store we marched (we live too far away to go home and grab clothes). Needless to say, I learned to check before leaving the house.

    Even though there was great sadness at my brother-in-law’s two memorial services, we still managed to laugh at his antics. Everyone told funny stories about him. It did us good. Love these stories and you had to get an A+ on your speech. You rock! Never let anyone tell you any different.

    • Aw, thanks, Bestie! You rock!

      That’s hilarious about the shopping trip and Christopher wearing his undies! I’m surprised your other kids didn’t say anything. I bet this has had you giggling about it for years!

      How wonderful that your brother-in-law had lots of antics for his loved ones to share and bring some joy to the sorrow.

      Thanks for stopping in. I don’t know how you do everything that you do!

  2. That deer crossing is hilarious! Mall Cop 2 is a really funny movie. I’d like to watch more funny shows on t.v. My kids crack me up all the time.

    • Yes, Catherine, that deer crossing video makes me laugh every time. The lady who totally misunderstood what the signs are for is actually cute when you listen to her! It’s good that you have your kids to make you laugh. Good times, for sure. I need to watch more funny TV shows and movies, too. They’re good for all of us!

  3. Patricia says:

    Oh my gosh – Mary Tyler Moore and that gang were absolutely hilarious. This also reminds me of the Carol Burnett show, which was some of the best comedy on TV. Remember when they’d do a skit and one or the other would start laughing and then everyone was laughing during the skit? Those were some good television watching episodes. The ones with Mama? Vicki Lawrence was usually the one who was able to keep the straightest face but Harvey Korman and Tim Conway and Carol were all busting up laughing? Ah the good old days.

    Thanks for sharing and I agree – get your giggle on!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    • Patricia – I’m so glad you got a kick out of the Mary Tyler Moore video. That was a great show, and so was the Carol Burnett show. It’s a riot when they crack themselves up and can’t say their lines. Yes, the good old days! That must be where you got your great sense of humor. I can always count on your blog posts for a good giggle!

  4. When my husband’s grandpa was in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s, my MIL used to crack up telling us stories about what he did during her visit, like the time he kept insisting she fetch his toolbox so he could fix the elevator (it was a one-story building). When asked how could she laugh about something like that, she said “if I wasn’t laughing, I’d cry.” Definitely the better way to deal with a stressful situation!

    I seem to remember not feeling well one evening, and picking up a children’s book that made me LOL all through it: Curse of the Double Digits. I hadn’t read a kids’ book in years, but I’d won it and was going to give it to a coworker whose daughter was turning 10, and wanted to read it myself first. I felt much better by the time I finished it!

    • Jennette – Thanks again for sharing your funny wedding memory with me. The tape on the shoes made for a great prop for the speech and it got lots of laughs. I wonder if anyone took a picture of it at your wedding? That would be a hoot to see!

      Okay, I can see why you’d all crack up listening to your MIL tell those stories. She’d have me in stitches, I’m sure, and it’s definitely a better way to deal with such a heartbreaking issue.

      How sweet of you to comment about my book! I’m so glad it made you laugh and then shared it with your coworker’s daughter. It was fun writing that book, especially when I’d read chapters at critique and they’d all laugh in the right places. You made my day, Jennette! Thanks so much!

  5. Awesome blog post and Toastmasters speech, Lynn! The only things I will watch anymore are comedies and science fiction (which is why Galaxy Quest, being a SF comedy) is one of my favorite movies. 🙂 Life is too short not to laugh often.

    • Thank you, Teresa! You’re so right about life being too short not to laugh often. I haven’t seen Galaxy Quest, but I love comedies and sci-fi, so it sounds like a show I’d like. Great title!

  6. yvettecarol says:

    Wow, loved this post, Lynn, and yes, I did laugh out loud! 🙂 You told me once before that your dad was a great jokester. And I told you my dad is the same. When I was down visiting the folks last weekend my dad gave me the joke that went in the newsletter, and also this one:
    “You must have been at the back of the queue when God gave out brains.”
    “At least I was in the queue!”

  7. First of all Lynn, you are rockin’ Toastmasters my dear friend! Wow, you do a wonderful job speaking in front of people. That is quite an accomplishment. It doesn’t come naturally to most of us. But I have to say that you made it look easy. You looked very comfortable up there. Congratulations for overcoming your fears! I really appreciate the topic you chose. “Laugh and Live Longer” makes so much sense. I would rather laugh than cry. It relieves so much pressure! And don’t we all need that these days. Love your sense of timing with your delivery of a joke. You made me laugh! Thank you so much Lynn for caring enough to share this with us. I truly needed a good laugh! ((Hugs))

  8. Lynn Kelley says:

    You’re too kind, Karen. Thanks so much! XO

  9. Susie Lindau says:

    Woohoo! What a great speech! I had no idea there was such a huge difference in the amount of laughter between kids and adults. Maybe we think too much or have heard it all a thousand times. I try to see the humor in life. Having a sense of humor in a marriage is imperative! I wonder if anyone has done a study. Humorless people may have a higher rate of divorce. 🙂

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