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He Who Laughs . . . Lasts.


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Burton Borrok Find out more about Burton Borrok
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  • He Who Laughs . . . Lasts.

    He Who Laughs . . . Lasts.
    Reproduced from the January 2004 Mensa Bulletin
    with the permission of the author Richard Lederer

    An Apache myth tells us the Creator made man able to walk and talk, to see and hear – to do everything. But the Creator wasn’t satisfied. Finally he made man laugh, and when man laughed and laughed, the Creator said, “Now you are fit to live.”
    In Navajo culture, there is something called the First Laugh Ceremony. Tradition dictates that each Navajo baby is kept on a cradle board until he or she laughs for the first time. Then the tribe throws a celebration in honor of the child’s first laugh, which is considered to be his or her birth as a social being.
    We are not only Homo sapiens, the creature who thinks. We are Homo guffawus, the creature who laughs.
    Did you know babies are born with certain natural instincts? Neurologists have discovered the reason babies cry right after they are born is that they instinctively understand the magnitude of the national debt they are going to be saddled with.
    Just kidding. But I’m completely serious when I report the fact that five year olds laugh naturally about 250 times a day. How sad it is that as we age, we almost inevitably gain girth and lose mirth. Many of us don’t laugh 250 times a month.
    “Man is the only animal who blushes – or needs to,” wrote Mark Twain. He could have added, “Man is the only animal that truly laughs – or needs to.” How solemn can God be if he endowed us with the gift of laughter?
    We all need to laugh. Recent studies have shown that he or she who laughs, lasts. Norman Cousins, who used laughter to conquer a debilitating disease, writes, “Illness is not a laughing matter. Perhaps it aught to be. Laughter moves your internal organs around. It enhances respiration. It is an igniter of great expectation . . . . It has always seemed to me that hearty laughter is a good way to jog internally without having to go outdoors.”
    Laughter stimulates the circulation, tones the muscles, energizes the lungs and respiratory system, stimulates endorphins in the immune system and provides superb aerobic exercise. In “Make ‘Em Laugh”, Stanford University professor William Fry explains, “When laughter gets to the point where it is called ‘convulsive,’ almost every muscle in the body is involved.”
    Laughter is also an elixir for the mind. Tests administered before and after humor therapy reveal a reduction of stress and depression and a heightened sense of wellbeing and creativity. More and more science is discovering it hurts only when we don’t laugh. “Laughter is to life what shock absorbers are to automobiles. It won’t take the potholes out of the road, but it sure makes the ride smoother,” observes Barbara Johnson. "The most wasted of all days is one without laughter,” adds the magician of poetry, e. e. cummings. According to Robert Provine, author of, ‘Laughter, A Scientific Investigation,’ we laugh also to promote social bonding – a trigger that appears to be genetically determined. His studies document that we actually laugh more frequently during the course of conversation at things that aren’t funny to show agreement or approval, then we do to voice our amusement at something that tickles our funny bone.
    “Humor is not a trick,” writes auther and ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ host Garrison Keillor.
    “Humor is a presence in the world – like grace – and shines on everybody.” The profound act of laughter is a special blessing to us who live in the long, dark shadow of that day terrorism shook our land. The late and beloved humorist Erma Bombeck, who’s column “At Wit’s End” was read by millions, speaks to us today: “Laughter rises out of tragedy, when you need it most, and rewards you for your courage.” And the also late and beloved humorist Richard Armour observed, “Comedy, I think, is as high an art as tragedy. It is as important to make people laugh as to make them cry.”
    As bread is the staff of life, laughter is the nectar. Go forth and practice random acts of laughter. Ripples of laughter will wash the brightest pearls onto the shores of your life. Laughter makes life the merriest of go-rounds and will keep you from getting dizzy.
    In a recent AARP interview, U. N. Secretary General Kofi Annan was asked. “And what is the single greatest thing that sustains you?” His answer: “A sense of humor. And I laugh at myself.” Employ Annan’s wisdom. Be sure to laugh at yourself. Others are laughing at you, so why not you too?

    (Richard Lederer’s current book is, “A Man of My Words.” His web site is verbivore.com)

  • #2
    Re: He Who Laughs . . . Lasts.

    You and Richard are absolutely correct.
    I've enjoyed your 'Time To Laugh' posts, keep them coming.
    Every great thing that has ever happened since the beginning of time has started as a single thought in someones mind.
    So if you are capable of thought then you are capable of great things
    Good luck and stay well.