Understanding Your Daily Focus
An old adage that we’ve all probably heard a million times
is that laughter is the best medicine. It’s one of those phrases that we may
not even pay attention to, or maybe think about briefly when we feel better
after a good belly laugh. But there is more to it than just an old saying.
Laughter is a way for our bodies to release tension, stress, and fear. It’s why
sometimes we laugh when we’re angry, sad, or confused. It isn’t always about
direct happiness, although it often is. It’s about the correlation between
repression and release—the way we feel healed to some degree when we allow
ourselves to laugh. It’s hard not to feel better after laughing, even if
nothing has fundamentally changed, or you’re still wiping away the same tears
that fell from grief or sadness.
In this week’s Daily Focus, I want to look at laughter; at
the different ways in which it is the best medicine, why we need it, and how we
can utilize humor, release, and connection to move forward and out of our
Saturday, March 5
“Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh.” –W. H. Auden
I feel like friend groups are often built around a shared
sense of humor. If we have people in our lives who can lighten the mood, bring
us out of our own thoughts, and make us feel good, we’re going to naturally be
drawn to them. But for me, when I am really down, I tend to hide away from the
people I know can bring me out of it. If you’ve been feeling down lately, try
reaching out to someone you know will make you laugh.
Sunday, March 6
“Your body cannot heal without play. Your mind cannot heal without laughter. Your soul cannot heal without joy.” –Catherine Rippenger Fenwick
What does medicine do? It heals us. Chemistry, nature, and
community—all forms of medicine, all forms of healing. Laughter heals the mind
like joy heals the soul and play heals the body. When your mind is unwell, it
can feel like you’re stuck. Trapped in thoughts you don’t want to have, or
unable to reach the thoughts you really do want to have. Laughter heals this,
if only temporarily. It allows us to break free from our own neural patterns
and refocus our energy.
Monday, March 7
“Laughter is a form of internal jogging. It moves your internal organs around. It enhances respiration. It is an igniter of great expectations.” –Norman Cousins
I wouldn’t take this quote literally, but I do think
there is something spiritually correct about the way that laughter does feel
like it moves through your body, shaking things up and reinvigorating our
passions. Sometimes you need a good laugh to get unstuck on a work project or
some other pedantic endeavor.
Tuesday, March 8
“Laughter lets me relax. It’s the equivalent of taking a deep breath, letting it out, and saying, ‘This, too, will pass.’” –Odette Pollar
When I read this quote, I think about the feeling of relief that comes after laughter. When you’ve confronted your own fears and turned them into humor, you can finally sit back and say, “Okay, I can handle this.” I think that’s one of laughter’s best qualities, it strengthens us.
Wednesday, March 9
“Laughter serves as a blocking agent. Like a bulletproof vest, it may help protect you against the ravages of negative emotions that can assault you in disease.” –Norman Cousins
If you can keep your sense of humor, it helps a lot through
dark times. As someone who has faced myriad intense health issues over the
years, I know firsthand that when you’re facing something scary, something sad,
something that feels insurmountable—the best thing to do is laugh. Being able
to laugh really allows the harsher shots to bounce off you, so you feel their
impact without feeling their full damage
Thursday, March 10
“The wit makes fun of other persons; the satirist makes fun of the world; the humorist makes fun of himself, but in so doing, he identifies himself with people – that is, people everywhere, not for the purpose of taking them apart, but simply revealing their true nature. The wellspring of laughter is not happiness, but pain, stress, and suffering.” –James Thurber
Beneath our laughter lies pain. Even in mild humor, often
the joke is someone doing something embarrassing and relatable, something very
human. The things we find humorous reflect our own shortcomings, our own fears.
When we see someone else make light of something that when we did it ourselves
was a shameful secret, we feel an immense weight lifted. That’s community,
that’s connection, that’s humor.
Friday, March 11
“If laughter cannot solve your problems, it will definitely dissolve your problems; so that you can think clearly what to do about them” –Dr. Madan Kataria
This is the core of it, I believe. Laughter is medicine, but
it’s a bit like Tylenol. It won’t fix the root cause of your pain, but it does
allow you a reprieve in which you can think clearly and look at things without
being overwhelmed by the pain of stress, shame, and fear. It won’t solve
anything long-term but keeping humor and laughter as part of your daily life
will make each day a little easier, and give you time to sort through bigger,
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