Have any of you seen the Tom Hanks/John Candy film, Splash? For the trivia buffs in the peanut gallery, it was the first movie I saw on a Real Date while in high school, but for the purposes of this blog post, it also provides a point of reference for this week’s installment.
Professor Kornbluth, played by Second City alum Eugene Levy, has been in hot pursuit of Hanks’ onscreen love interest, Daryl Hannah, a mermaid who has come aground in New York City in search of Hanks. NO ONE believes that Kornbluth has identified a mermaid, and after a series of injuries, he takes a header – a particularly unpleasant tumble down a stairwell. Out of sight, at the foot of the stairs, we hear him bleat, “What a week I’m having.”
Be assured, having ‘one of those weeks’ happens with relative regularity. When a series of these weeks happened in rapid succesion, my grandmother used to say, “You can laugh or you can cry.”Â I choose laughter, and here’s why.
“Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on.”Â ~Bob Newhart
While I have cried, do cry and believe in the cathartic nature of tears, I think laughter is sometimes a more powerful weapon (?)Â when we need to ACT. Crying can be a slippery slope into self-pity, depression and bogging us down. Being able to cry is important to purge emotion, and it’s always good to have a friend or loved one nearby who can give us a hug when we’re sad. That said, when we focus on the humor in any given situation, we automatically shift into a positive mindset. It’s impossible to laugh and be negative simultaneously.
Sometimes, our laughter is reflexive. We laugh at ourselves from an awareness bigger and more acute than our conscious selves. Have you ever done something particularly idiotic (while alone) and then literally laughed out loud at yourself? I have. “Smooth move!”Â I’ll chortle to myself, and then go about changing my behavior/trying another approach.
“I’ve always thought that a big laugh is a really loud noise from the soul saying, ‘Ain’t that the truth.'”ÂÂ ~Quincy Jones
[Pure] laughter is forgiving. It’s good for our physical and mental health when we laugh. Here are a few of the physiological benefits to laughter:
Â Reduces pain. Our bodies produce pain-killing hormones called endorphins in response to laughter
Â Strengthens immune function. A good belly laugh increases production of T-cells, interferon and immune proteins called globulins
Â Decreases stress. When under stress, we produce a hormone called cortisol. Laughter significantly lowers cortisol levels and returns the body to a more relaxed state.
Psychology Today has a comprehensive article about the social and physical benefits of laughter that may be of interest. John Cleese (one of my favorite funny people on the planet) explores laughter and its role in yoga in India. If that’s too clinical, I invite you to enjoy another clip from Cleese during his Monty Python days.
“At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.”Â ~Jean Houston
Aside from the increased flow of oxygen to our cells that laughter provides, I value laughter for its ability to help us relax, which allows for possibility thinking. Sometimes, we get SO FOCUSED on a particular result that when we don’t see our pre-supposed and preferred specific outcome manifesting, we get wound up. Stressed out. Tense. Laughter is a natural purge valve that allows us to release expectations and open ourselves up to opportunities we haven’t considered.
I actually keep a file of laughter-inducing YouTube clips in my bookmarks for those days when I don’t find much to laugh about. If there’s a chance they may do you any good, here are a few:
When all else fails, remember the example of Monster’s Inc: laughter is more powerful than fear. Channel the energy of laughter in your life and watch your life change in big (and hilarious?) ways. 🙂
Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter asÂ @mckra1g or@WWDr1ve (Women With Drive)