Lessons In Laughter
Traffic was heavy. It was rush hour; horns honked, trucks barreled past, motorcycles vroomed… The city was bustling with students rushing to and fro.
Vonnie walked briskly along the sidewalk after class, head high, books held to her chest. Her spirit soared! She was glad to be alive! Although in her thirties, she felt like a teenager again! Vonnie loved the sound of it…"student". She couldn't help but smile. She hadn't been a student for years! And here she was, going back to college to earn her degree to become a Registered Nurse. The three children she left behind were being well cared for by her ex-husband. It was only a year that she'd be away - she would see the kids on the weekends and she talked to them often on the phone. The sense of freedom she felt was wonderful! She knew she looked great for her age - the catcalls proved that. She walked faster, swinging her free arm, confidence rising with every step…
Unfortunately for Vonnie, she was holding her head up so high she didn't see the slight rise of the crack in the sidewalk. Her toe caught it and ----woah------oooh--------oooof!
She was down.
Books were scattered everywhere. Drivers craned their necks as they passed by. Pedestrians stopped to offer a hand and asked if she was all right. She answered that her ego was bruised, but other than that, she was just fine.
And then she laughed. She sat there and laughed out loud, fully aware of how ridiculous she must have looked, prancing along one minute and flat on her face the next.
Since she made the mistake of relaying that story to her children, we haven't let her forget it. Frequently we'll bring up the time when Mom thought she was so cool and - BOOM - she was quickly brought to her knees (literally). But one of the lessons I'm so glad she taught me was how to laugh at myself.
I happen to find everything funny. I laugh the hardest at things I have done myself. And ironically, the things I do that warrant a good laugh usually happen when I'm with my mother. And that makes them even funnier.
Like the time my husband and I were in the process of looking for houses. I was in the car with my mom and two kids when I spotted an Open House sign. Since I love going to Open Houses, even when I'm NOT looking for houses, I asked if she would mind swinging by to take a peek. We turned down the street and I saw about three or four cars parked out front. My mom pulled up right in front of the For Sale sign.
"Wow. They've got a lot of traffic. Perfect timing." With so many prospective buyers, the Realtor would be busy; I didn't feel like dealing with a Realtor today. If I liked the house, my husband and I could come back later. Today, my mom, the kids and I could just slip in anonymously, look around a bit and leave. We piled out of the car and hurried up the driveway.
The garage door was open. "Should we go in through the back or front?" my mom asked.
"Let's go in the front," I answered, ushering the kids ahead of me toward the door.
My mom held the door open as we stepped inside. Something was off. There were people sitting on the couch, and there were birthday presents on the floor.
"Hi!" someone said. "You must be a friend of Michelle's."
"No….." I stammered; the light bulb started blinking in my brain as I realized that this wasn't an Open House, but a birthday party! I can't even believe the words, "this isn't an open house?" even came out of my mouth. Duh.
Fortunately, the people inside laughed and informed us that the open house we were looking for was down the street. I was so thankful that the owners of the home were sympathetic and even more thankful that there hadn't been anyone inside that I knew!
My mom and I laughed all the way back to the car and all the way home. We laughed until tears trickled down our cheeks. We laughed hysterically when we considered that had we gone in through the back door, we probably would have found ourselves in the kitchen, opening cupboards, peeking in closets…
Unfortunately, my then seven-year-old son had not yet learned the art of laughing at himself or, in this case, at his mother and Grandma. Because he was with us when we did this horrendously embarrassing thing, my son was extremely humiliated, even to the point of solemnly saying, "I really don't think it's funny, mom." Of course this made us laugh even harder.
In my opinion, laughter is a true spirit-lifter and soul-healer. The reason for the term, "laughter is the best medicine" is because laughter heals! According to a study published by the University of Iowa Health Science relations, laughter decreases tension and reduces pain, it boosts the body's production of infection-fighting antibodies, and helps in the treatment of depression or other emotional illnesses. In addition, people who laugh more frequently and more heartily than others are shown to have healthier hearts! The reason for this, according to the study, is that laughing causes a reduction of stress hormones, which results in reduced blood pressure! No wonder my husband jokes that I am practically dead every time I get my blood pressure checked - it is always very low! And I'm thankful for that. It means a healthier heart for me!
God created laughter because it's good for us! When we laugh at ourselves, we are saying to the world that despite our imperfections and occasional mess-ups, God is still good! There is joy, even in looking like a fool! (By the way, looking LIKE a fool is different than actually BEING a fool) You have to admit life's a lot more fun - and a lot less stressful - when we laugh at ourselves! It sure is better than beating ourselves up, walking around angry or embarrassed when we make mistakes or just plain do something dumb!
It is now my goal to teach my kids how to laugh instead of wanting to die of embarrassment because of simple mishaps (falling flat on your face) or errors in judgment (the Open House incident). Why be so serious? Life is much too short to deprive ourselves of the therapy that laughter brings to our souls! And besides, it's infectious! As the saying goes, "Laugh and the world laughs with you…" Why not bring a little laughter to the world at your own expense! You have nothing to lose except a little dignity, which has always been overrated anyway.
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Sometimes a melancholy streak in my temperment wants to take over...so this article is good tonic for me! Again, your lessons from and about life are both fun and powerful. This is a good one.
A warm and funny article! I laughed out loud at the picture you painted with your words....and can imagine it still inspires more with every telling! You really brightened my day!
Lynda, I wasn't sure initially where you were going with the story - but I see the pattern - you come from a long line of nuts. lol. I almost wish I could have been a fly on the wall when you crashed the birthday party. Woops! Admirable goal to teach children to laugh at themselves and not others. If only I could teach my eldest this skill. Ah well, well done. Thanks for the invite to share in the feast. Glenn
Well, you really helped boosts my body's production of infection-fighting antibodies. Still laughing out loud as I write this. I enjoyed the open house thingy the most.
Lynda, Another very funny one! If this is a true story, it comforts me to know I'm not alone in my embarassing mishaps! There have been plenty! By the way, in my opinion, I don't see a concern for the way the last few paragraphs flow...I think they are just fine. :) Good job!
Oops, just noticed something...I'm not sure about the (...) at the end of the article. I think it is a complete thought and sentence and can stand alone with a period. Ask other opinions, of course. I'm certainly no expert!