Laughter Comes in All Forms
By Jennifer Gilles, Program Coordinator, Spirit & Place Festival
“I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.” –Woody Allen
Experts say laughter reduces stress, relaxes the whole body, boosts the immune system, and triggers the release of endorphins. Laughter is an emotional and physical release. But most of us don’t need to “learn” this; we just know it. We feel GOOD when we laugh. We NEED to laugh.
Laughter comes in all forms. We all have those friends with the fantastic, contagious laugh that comes so easily–really loud and from the depths of the soul. A belly laugh. A guffaw. It often includes an involuntary snort or two. My sister and I call this the “Roxanne” laugh, after our good friend with THE best laugh you will ever hear!
And sometimes laughter is an eye roll. My husband says he knows his day is successful if he gets someone to laugh (usually at his own expense), but he knows he’s at his best when those laughs come in the form of an eye roll and a groan! I look forward to the end of the day when I can listen to the retelling of his “successes,” and he laughs again.
Sometimes laughter is quiet. In fact, my own biggest laughs include long periods of silence. Don’t get me wrong–I can and do laugh out loud–but when something strikes me as extremely funny, I can barely breathe, my face gets hot, tears stream from my eyes, and I can’t speak or make a sound. My family says that when we talk on the phone and I laugh this hard, they wait to hear my “squeak”–my intake of air–to confirm that I am indeed still on the phone; that we haven’t suddenly been disconnected.
I think we intrinsically need and seek out laughter. How else can you explain why we pay professional entertainers to make us laugh? In the last few years I have been fortunate to see some incredibly funny comedians–Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, Kathy Griffin, Carol Burnett, Peter Sagal, and Jimmy Fallon. But on a day-to-day basis, I have a no-fail, go-to solution–tuning in to reruns of Friends and Seinfeld.
I set a premium on laughter. It’s important. My life is full of friends, family, and entertainment that make me laugh. So what makes you laugh? Another person? An episode of Modern Family or An Idiot Abroad? How do you incorporate laughter in your daily life?
This year, the Spirit & Place Festival theme is PLAY. With laughter and play so integral to each other, I have been given a gift–permission to spend this entire year laughing and playing at work. Lucky me!