I almost never post jokes on my laughter blog - but why not? Here’s Groucho at his best:
“Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.”
I bought myself flowers at the farmer’s market today. As I soak up the beauty they exude, I think of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote: “The Earth Laughs in Flowers.”
Whenever I’ve tried to put the beauty of a flower into words, my words fall so far short, I leave it alone and don’t even try. Today feels that way. This bouquet of stunning oranges, golds and reds is a visual essence I could never relay to you. But as I think of Emerson’s quote – I think of how beautiful we are when we laugh. Is a roomful of people laughing really like a bouquet of flowers in full bloom? One of my laughter club members told a reporter as much once. She said, “Everyone here looks so beautiful laughing.” It is the most precious comment I’ve heard about my laughter club.
Laughing brings up the joyful essence of who we are. Laughing people are like flowers in bloom. And like those flowers I can’t really convey it in words. You’ve got to experience it for yourself. May you enjoy a laughing day today.
I once worked for a major law firm. Just having arrived in a new city, I was grateful to land this job, basic as it was. I did the grunt work for the paralegals with one other “grunt-worker” in an area we dubbed “The Paralegal Ghetto”.
To survive the boring mindless labor of poring over endless documents, I laughed. In fact I laughed and laughed and laughed.
My laughing cellmate was another intelligent woman caught in one of life’s interludes that lands you in an intelligently ludicrous situation; i.e. she was massively bored also. Often all it took was one look at each other, to set us off.
Myself I could get into a dangerous roll and not be able to stop. I tried headphones (ions before ipods) but it seems I would be humming under my breath, which would send us again into endless streams of laughter.
I now know the value of laughter at work. Back then I had those judgmental thoughts running through my head: “I’m going to get into trouble for laughing.” “I’m not supposed to laugh at work.” “It’s unproductive.” Now I lecture that just the opposite is true. For I did get my work done and there wasn’t any other way I could have survived it.
More than that, we played an important role in this somewhat stuffy law firm. There were those who knew that they could come to the paralegal ghetto and get some good laughs. After a substantial “laughter break”, they returned to work refreshed, energized, minds more alert.
Like recess for kids, it was a much-needed break from the intense seriousness of prolonged concentration.
Our paralegal ghetto was never officially recognized for the role we played in providing comic relief, yet I knew this was ultimately why I was there.
My birthday coincides with Laughter Yoga’s birthday – we have a symbiotic relationship.
Though I’ve often had a lot of laughter in my life, it seems just as often I haven’t had nearly enough. Either that best laughter buddy moved away or got lost in a traumatic relationship or got a girlfriend who got jealous etc. etc. My laughter muscles cried and I moved on.
Or perhaps I got lost in my own challenges and my Laughter Quotient (laughter time to non laughter time) significantly decreased.
So when Dr. Kataria invented Laughter Yoga, I knew immediately it was for me; as well as a great gift to the world.
It’s no coincidence Laughter Yoga was born in India – one of the most crowded, polluted, noisy and stressful places to live. The higher the stress, the greater the need for laughter.
Dr. Kataria himself admits he wasn’t someone prone to laughter. He needed it as much as those who began to follow him. His laughter muscles had gone rusty, and really weren’t well developed to begin with. This is the man now referred to as the Guru of Giggling. It’s a testament to the power of intentional laughter.
Laughter Yoga is the lifelong intent to bring more laughter into your life and the immediate intent to laugh in the moment. The now of laughter.
In my life there have been times when people have tried to stop my laughter.
Was my laughter a threat? Did it spark their insecurity? Were they jealous? Was it too painful to see others in such joy when they were in such misery?
I don’t know.
At such times I was young and vulnerable to the reaction of others and I let it lessen my laughter.
Living on an island community, I regularly got in a roll of laughter with the clerk at the market on my daily shops. We laughed and laughed until one day I got a visit from his jealous wife who misunderstood all the laughing. I stopped laughing there altogether.
When I was in my twenties I worked at a restaurant where some of my peers tried to stifle my boisterous laughter. They never cut loose to that extent themselves and they didn’t want to hear it. It hurt and I somewhat muffled myself.
Even my own brother violently attacked me when I was a teenager who used to get into fits of giggling with my mother. That definitely stopped my laughter for a while.
Over the years I have watched some laughter club members experience cathartic liberations from years of stifled laughter; some being told as children to “stop all that laughing”.
Have compassion for those around you who have no laughter in their lives. But simultaneously don’t let anyone stop your laughter.
Nelson Mandela said, “…Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you….As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same…”