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Medicine for the Soul

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That’s what my Mom called laughter.

Do you laugh enough? I don’t laugh enough. So, I’ve decided it’s the next “to-do” on my health improvement list. There are plenty of studies proving that laughing reduces stress, releases endorphins, relaxes muscles and so on. But I don’t need a study to know it helps me.

Here’s some of the stuff I try to do and have committed to do more.

· Answer the phone in a silly manner. I learned from friend Brian Bowers that “Crisis Prevention Center” often provokes a laugh from the caller. Coming up with new ones challenges me daily.

· Ask mindless questions like, “Why do we drive on the parkway and park on the driveway?

· Pass on items I see on the internet that make me laugh. Alice has friends who watch closely for humor and she is often my source. Readers have helped greatly by passing along stupid stuff, like this.

· Repeat jokes. You don’t have to be a great storyteller to do this. Sometimes the other person(s) tell me one and that gets a joke session going!

· Seek out and hang around funny people, friends and acquaintances who add to my day.

· Watch a funny movie, show, podcast, etc.. My family takes pride in being able to liberally quote such cinematic classics as Spaceballs, Vacation and Tommy Boy.

The tension in my family home as a child was relatively high. Irish, Catholic, ten children, two parents and neighbors and friends out the wazoo. It seemed there was always a perceived crisis and often, real ones. Thinking back, each of us suffered at least one broken bone or head wound in our childhood. Our passive aggressive natures (“You’re fat; that hurt; what, can’t you take a joke?”) was always followed by the word “sorry”, which was thrown around more than “I” or “the”. One family friend called us the sorriest family she’d ever known.

But I also remember laughter was hugely popular in our home. And even more specifically, I remember its power being released. It reduced the inevitable tension of so many mammals occupying one space. There were three particularly funny children among us – Terry (the storyteller), Mary (the trickster) and Sheila (our resident wise ass). Our little sister, Janie, who lived with Down’s also had a marvelous way of exposing truth among us that would steal the tension from any room and cause laughter.

I also remember my Dad laughing loudly at a Red Skelton skit on television and my Mom giggling her way through an Erma Bombeck book.

The method, your family history, or even your own sense for humor is not pertinent. The question I bring today is; what are you doing to laugh more?

I’d also love to know what helps you laugh. Reply with your favorite joke, movie, show, podcast, etc. I’m always looking for new material!


Tim McCarthy

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