Laughter is Medicine

Lol. Ha. Haha. Hehe. Heehee. Hahahah. Bahah.


To laugh… What a beautiful thing, huh? Even just in type/text language, there are just so many types of laughter. Ever notice how every person has their own kind, pitch, length, etc? Seriously! When I first thought of writing about the concept of laughing a few weeks ago, I started paying closer attention.

I dissected my own laugh, and realized that I have more than a handful of different kinds. There’s the awkwardly quiet, yet auditory “ha” when reading/watching something funny alone. Or the monotone, tight-lipped “haha” with with a slight squint of green eyes when someone says something either insulting or simply not funny. One of my most frequent laughs involves a fair bit of shaking and crying. I’m that person who, in the middle of yoga, a movie, or even a test, accidentally thinks of the most hilarious video, joke, or memory.

Here’s a brief story that will send me cackling and gasping for air, tears streaming down my face every time. Dad, Shannon, and I were on vacation in Florida: relaxing and spending a week riding roller coasters and water slides at Disney. One morning, getting an early start to beat the rush, Dad packed the backpack full of snacks, water bottles, sunscreen, and changes of clothes. A little groggy but excited, we left our hotel room and emerged into the humid, sunny day that awaited us. Moving from the stairs to the walkway lined with tall palm trees, Dad noticed there was a bird making a strange sound in one of the trees above us. Somehow, in an attempt to visually locate this bird, my dad strayed off the sidewalk and onto the morning grass, slippery with dew. While distractedly looking upwards, searching for said strange bird, Dad lost his footing on the slick grass. The unexpected ground surface change and extra weight of the backpack sent my dad in a frenzy of flapping arms and feet running in place, trying regain his footing. Unfortunately for him, he was not transformed into a bird and ended up sprawling out onto the wet lawn. Tears of laughter are streaming down my face as I’m writing this, by the way. Bewildered and in a fit of hysterics, my sister and I watched our father picking himself up off the ground, brushing grass clippings off his clothes. The damage was done though, and his white t-shirt and khaki cargo shorts were grass-stained for life, forcing him to turn around and march back upstairs for a fresh outfit. What a way to start the morning! Shan and I LOVE re-telling this story at every opportunity, and predictably, Dad hates how many opportunities we make.

I think I’ve adopted my favorite laugh from my dad. I can remember having these laughing fits as early as third grade, who knows if earlier. Just at the thought of a memory, story, or joke, my face turns red, my mouth contorts into a painfully too-wide smile, my eyes begin to water, and I begin to laugh. The aftermath: tear-streaked tomato face, abs feeling like I did more than three sit-ups, palms pulsing from slapping the table, and lungs gasping for air. It’s uncontrollable and one of the best feelings. It’s as if our brain knows we’re experiencing happiness and releases some endorphins or whatever.

One of my favorite laughs has to be the Elaine Benes belly chuckle from Seinfeld!

Have you laughed today?


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