Laughter is the priceless medicine for all ages

My dear old dad, now 94, always told me one of the best ways to cheer up a down and dull day, to snuff out a bad mood, or to lighten up

My dear old dad, now 94, always told me one of the best ways to cheer up a down and dull day, to snuff out a bad mood, or to lighten up a room full of stuffed shirts is to crack a few jokes to fit the crowd and occasion and get them all laughing and joining in. I really took that advice to heart in my youth, and as a little guy, somehow survived by becoming some sort of an entertainer, always pulling off little pranks and trying to make everyone laugh, no matter how big, how grumpy or how important they were.

Of course there were many times when I was chased around the block or told to get lost but I eventually discovered if you shared and didn’t act mean or bossy, you could usually attract a crowd by just acting a little haywire and getting everyone else to join in on the fun. In school I was a long way away from the honour roll and was kind of a klutz when it came to sports but I loved to get up on the gym stage and perform pantomimes, sing a squeaky tenor in the Glee Club, and volunteer for every role in Mrs. Hailstone’s drama class that involved wild and woolly comedy. Many of my antics and constant “motor mouth” quite often earned me a front desk in every class. I did manage to make a few friends, kept a secret diary of the best and hottest jokes, and felt real good if I could get a few laughs or even the odd smile out of the class snobs.

I guess for some reason I continued to act that way long after I left those hallowed halls of learning, always trying to be the resident jokester, whether as a member of a sports team, at work, at home or at any party or get-together I was invited to or crashed. That great gang of characters I was so lucky to play fastball, commercial hockey and bowl with over the years once nicknamed me “The Rabbi” because of my constant tantrums of wit and wisdom after the game, which usually resulted in a sudden headache the next morning. Later as a husband and a father, I enjoyed playing games with mom and the kids, keeping them happy and laughing, even resorting to tickling just like so many parents did to get us into a good mood. Today, at the age of 70 years, I still love to crack jokes, try to be more funny than grumpy, and always try to add just a little more humour and fun to my weekly ramblings in your Ponoka News. Here is why humour can be so good for us, no matter what our age, and wherever we rub shoulders with others.

• It is a well known fact humour is totally infectious and is far more contagious than any cough, sniffle, or sneeze. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness, friendships, and intimacy. Spontaneous laughter and humour quite often has a magic way of wiping out a frown, as well as getting us out of our head and away from our troubles.

• Laughter relaxes the whole body. Whether it be a little chuckle, a giggle or a good hearty belly laugh, it will relieve physical tension, stress, pain, and conflict, while leaving our muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes.

• Laughter boosts the immune system, decreasing stress hormones and increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving our resistance to disease. A regular diet of laughing also triggers the release of endorphins, our body’s natural feel-good chemicals, which will produce an overall sense of well-being as well as often temporarily relieving some pain.

• Laughter can also protect the heart, improving the function of blood vessels and increasing the blood flow, which will help to fight against the risk of heart attack or other cardiovascular problems.

• Cracking a really good smile is great for our facial muscles, is one of the best methods to extend a welcome, to relax a tense situation, or to spark a mood of friendship, fellowship, and joy.

• All of us can bring more humour and laughter into our lives every day by taking a little time to: watch a funny movie or show, go to a comedy club, read the funny pages or humorous books, seek out funny people, share a good joke or funny story, host a game night with friends, play with your pet, go to a laughter yoga class, goof around with your children, do something silly, join in on fun activities inside or outside the house. Above all, we should never be afraid to laugh at and joke about ourselves.

Laughter and humour is absolutely free, so let’s all make sure that we get our fair share, and have a great week, all of you!

— Hammertime

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