"What's the funniest thing that happened to you this week?"
That’s the way most conversations begin for a group of my high school friends who get together at least once a month for some laughter therapy. We don’t really plan it as “medicinal,” but the feeling of total relaxation after we whoop it up for an afternoon is a testament to the stress-reducing properties of laughter.
We guffaw in the most unladylike manner as we recall our friend who accidentally swallowed her hearing aid battery instead of her osteoporosis pill. We collapse onto the floor laughing about another friend who grabbed a jacket out of his garage to attend a fancy cocktail party. At the party someone asked if he knew he had a dirt dauber nest hanging on his sleeve.
That same friend accidentally maced himself while driving a borrowed car. He thought the innocuous little can on the passenger seat was breath spray. (Ha, Ha, giggle, snort.)
Then there’s the classmate who accidentally dropped a contact lens into the potato salad at a church picnic. It never was recovered.
Let’s face it, life can be pretty funny. These stories are valuable little gems we carry in our memories to be pulled up when the world crowds in on us or you get a bad CT scan.
American journalist Norman Cousins came down with a fatal illness and was given one month to live. He checked out of the hospital and into a hotel where he treated himself with megadoses of Vitamin C, chased with hours of laughter induced by old Marx Brothers films.
"I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had a healing anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep," reported Cousins. Long story short, he went on to live for 26 more years.
Laughter is that delicious sound that occurs involuntarily and bubbles from deep in your soul. It can sometimes leave you breathless and in tears. I wish someone would package it.
Look, we have split the atom to the nth degree, put men on the moon and mapped our DNA, but no one has figured out how to give us laughter on demand. Personally, I always get a kick out of America’s Funniest Videos. With Rebel and Lucky Dawg at my side we laugh hysterically – even Rebel, who is a bulldog with a perpetual scowl.
We especially love the clips involving pets, small children and people falling down at their weddings. Ha ha ha, cares forgotten.
Be forewarned, laughter is highly contagious and may add years to your life. I guess that makes my friends and me about 125 by now.
Emily Jones is a retired journalist and ovarian cancer survivor who edits The Deluded Diva, a blog for bouncing baby boomers racing retirement. She invites you to stop by www.deludeddiva.com.