A chortle, a chuckle, a delirious giggle-fit or a sidesplitting spell of laughter is sometimes all we need to make our day. It might be dangerous to say we could never laugh too much (because we wouldn’t want people to think we were crazy), yet for most of us, more laughter in life is a welcome thing – because it feels good!
A good laugh
So why does laughing feel so good? For many reasons – both psychological and physiological. The most obvious is that laughing improves our mood. Laughing can help keep away negative emotions, depression and anxiety. Laughter is also stress-relieving. When we laugh, endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, are released. Studies have shown that laughing can cause blood vessels to expand, increase blood flow and reduce blood pressure. More oxygen is sent to cells, which can speed healing and improve all kinds of body functions. All of this clearly warrants that laughing be taken seriously (but not too seriously – ha!) as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Some people have a gift for making people laugh. Whoopie Goldberg, Eddie Izzard, Tina Fey, Bill Murray, Margaret Cho, Will Ferrell and Robin Williams are just a few who make a living by cracking people up. But professionals aren’t the only ones who incite laughter. There’s the funny neighbor, the barista who makes your latte every morning, the hair stylist-cum-therapist… everyday people who bring a little sunshine into our lives. It’s only natural that we tend to befriend, and sometimes fall in love with, people who make us laugh. Without laughter, life is dark and hopeless. Without laughter, there is no love.
Goddess of giggles
Laughing has even been known to make a woman more beautiful. The Greek world of gods and goddesses wasn’t without its beautiful jokesters either. Iambe was one of those goddesses whose talent was making other people laugh. She was beautiful, witty, daring and smart, and for this she won herself favor with one of the most powerful goddesses in the Greek pantheon, Demeter (earth goddess of grain and harvest).
One version of her story goes that Iambe consoled Demeter after her daughter Persephone’s abduction by Hades (king of the underworld). Since Demeter was the goddess of grain and harvest, the whole world was dying as she mourned Persephone’s absence. Iambe was the only one who could cheer Demeter up by performing a kind of comic striptease and whispering witty sayings that made Demeter crack a smile.
Message of the Gods
As the daughter of trickster Pan (the goat-footed, philandering god of shepherds, flocks and male sexuality) and Hero, a beautiful nymph, Iambe became known as a goddess of mirth, particularly of ribald humor. Humor requires creativity, so it’s not surprising that she is also the goddess of verse. Iambe represents the sexually liberated, carefree and joyous woman, who is unafraid to express herself. Sort of like the funny woman listed above. Iambe reminds us that joyous laughter, merriment and mirth can help us connect with our female strength and sexuality. She inspires us to be frisky, energized, alluring and wise, and to embrace whatever it is about us that makes us distinctly who we are.
Your world of laughter
When life throws you for a loop, seek out people who can make you laugh. And if they’re not picking up the phone, you can always laugh at yourself. Like the English comic character Dame Edna Everage says, “Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.”
Most of the time, laughter arrives unexpectedly, takes us by surprise and tickles us pink. Of course, when it’s not so easy too laugh, it does no good to force it. But we can open ourselves to more laughter by simply being more conscious of its merits, and all the glorious creativity and expressiveness that comes along with it.
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