Are you still young at heart in spite of the accumulating decades? If so, you may have discovered the secret elixir forgotten by so many.
As a minister in my first church, my lofty expectations collided with solid reality. I had visions of being loved and admired by the congregation. In my mind, I could see the church growing in attendance. People were lining up to thank me for my brilliant leadership.
But within the first month I lost the one key couple which held the church together. They walked out on me and the church. Who felt like laughing? Without the secret elixir of laughter I was failing to remain young at heart.
A huge learning curve, coupled with my inexperience, weighed so heavily my heart started to do somersaults. A halter monitor test suggested to the doctor I had too much stress. Imagine that.
During those anxiety filled days, I returned to college for a 10 year class reunion. What a thrill to gather with my college friends. You know how it is. When you reunite with good friends it is like you were never apart. We gathered into a room and let loose. I laughed and laughed until I cried. My body wanted to collapse under the sheer volume of laughter in the room.
None of my circumstances back home had changed. But I started to feel better. I relaxed. Smiling felt natural. For the first time in months I had the feeling of being in control. What magic medicine had I swallowed? I drank the elixir of laughter.
Then it struck me. I connected the dots. Under the stress of my work assignment I had forgotten to laugh. Armed with this new knowledge, I returned and did my best to drink the elixir of laughter in my situation. The difficulties remained but I found myself coping better.
Do you relate to any of this? Who knew when we were younger the amount of disappointment and heartache we would face? No one prepared us for the load of crap people would throw in our face. Too soon we learned life is not a carefree journey but serious business. And as the years rolled by lesson after lesson reinforced this troubling truth.
Be honest. How long since you’ve drank the elixir of laughter? And I mean a series of deep belly laughs which makes your entire body quiver? Or have you forgotten what it is like to laugh and failed to remain young at heart?
Momma Called The Doctor and The Doctor Said…Laugh
It’s a well-traveled but true statement: “laughter is the best medicine”. Copy and paste that phrase into Google and stand back. Google will dump over 1,400,000 hits with the phrase onto your browser pages. The internet is full of information about the benefits of laughter. It really is medicine for your body, soul, and mind.
Here’s a List of 10 Laughter Benefits:
- Laughter relaxes the body.
- Laughter drives away anxiety.
- Laughter connects you with people.
- Laughter is said to release endorphins into your system.
- Laughter gives your brain a break.
- Laughter puts you in a better mood.
- Laughter infuses the bloodstream with a positive energy.
- Laughter increases the flow of blood.
- Laughter makes you popular.
- Laughter puts a positive light on difficult situations.
Review this list of laughter benefits. Ask yourself this question: if the medical community could make a pill giving us the same benefits how would people respond? You know the answer. There would be a line out the door waiting to get their hands on a magic pill like that. Guess what? There is such a pill. It’s called laughter. If laughter produces all these benefits, and keeps us young at heart, why don’t we take our medicine?
3 Reasons We Fail To Take Our Dose of Laughter Medicine
There are many reasons we fail to laugh. But here is a distillation of those many reasons into three:
First, we take ourselves too seriously.
I’ve been told I am an aggressive driver. I prefer to say I’m an excellent driver performing under a self-imposed deadline. But one of my pet peeves is the driver who passes me and pulls in front of me without using a turn signal. Every time someone does this to me I’m offended. My brain starts to shout in the unheard world of the mind, “Hey Jerk. How dare you turn in front of me without using your turn signal. Show me some respect.” Even as I type these words I’m thinking to myself, “Lighten up. Who do you think you are?”
Yes. Lighten up. We often take ourselves too seriously. And when we do it is difficult to laugh. The best way to handle this issue is to learn to laugh at yourself. Poke fun at yourself, out loud, in front of other people. Go ahead. It’s okay. When you can laugh out loud at yourself you are on your way to being able to take your medicine and improve your life.
Learning to laugh at yourself helps the medicine go down and keeps you young at heart.
Second, we take others too seriously.
How many times have you gotten angry when someone made a comment but you discovered the words were meant as a joke?And how often has someone given you a suggestion for improvement but it offended you? Do you remember a time when you received a compliment but you suspected a hidden negative message crouched behind the words? You might be taking people too seriously.
When you take people too seriously you will find it difficult to get your daily dose of laughter. It’s hard to laugh when you feel people are being critical. We care about what people think and say about yes. But you cannot allow people to keep you from getting your important daily laugh.
Why not simply give people the benefit of the doubt? Try to assume if someone is talking about you the words are positive. Imagine any negativity is designed to help not hurt you.
Learning to not take others too seriously helps the medicine go down and keeps you young at heart.
Third, we take life too seriously.
I’m not naive. I understand the gravity of life. It is not to be taken for granted. But not every moment of life is of equal importance. Learn to care about the important things in life and let the others go. It is not too important if you get the parking spot closer to the door instead of the jerk who just stole it from you. And it is not too significant when the neighbor allows his leaves to blow into your yard. These things are annoying but when we take them too serious we find it hard to get our laugh on.
The every-day annoyances of life cannot be taken with the same weight as the significant matters of life.
Feel free to become passionate about choosing a career or spouse. It’s expected to have the blood pressure rise when the doctor gives you bad news. But knowing the difference between real life and life annoyances will make the difference in being able to take your daily dose of laughter.
Learning to not take life too seriously helps the medicine go down and keeps you young at heart.
Many People Look Back And Realize They Didn’t Laugh Enough
Trust me. I get it. Life is hard. Disappointments roll in one after the other. People stab us in the back. Our kids get off track. There’s not enough money. We develop a health concern. We must pay the bills. The leaky roof screams for attention. The transmission on the van goes out.
And all of this happens in the first decade of married life! Who can remain young at heart with the stresses of life?
To no one’s surprise, the grind of life turns us into a serious person. Gone are the carefree days of childhood and the teen years. Our minds are focused on solving our problems. It’s too easy to turn into a grump. I’ve known too many old people who turned into a borderline monster. They failed to take their laughter medicine and ended up paying the price. They failed to remain young at heart.
As a pastor, at the request of a relative, I visited a dying man in ICU. Upon entering the room my eyes latched onto the shriveled up dying old man under the bed sheets. I tried but failed to given encouragement. As I talked, he stared at me with strong piercing eyes. An interesting thing happened when I asked if I could pray for him. His face contorted into a ball of red-hot anger. Summoning all his fading strength he gasped, “Get out. Get out.” I’m guessing he lived too many years without taking his secret elixir to stay young at heart.
Your challenge is to not let this happen. The only way to avoid this is to take your medicine.
5 Ways To Take the Elixir of Laughter and Remain Young at Heart
When it comes to the medicine called laughter there are many ways to take your medicine. The only limit is your own imagination. Here are 5 suggestions.
First, make it a habit to watch a TV comedy every night before going to bed. It will position your subconscious for a great start when you awake. You are priming the pump for laughter to impact your life when you roll out of bed.
Second, get a dog. I know. Dogs can be a lot of work. But dogs are great companions. And certain breeds are even known to be more humorous than other kinds of dogs. Do the research and consider getting a companion which will bring laughter into your life for years to come.
Third, every morning read a funny story before heading out into the world. There are apps you can get for your phone which will provide you with a joke for the day. You can ever find websites which will email you a joke or funny story every day.
Fourth, make it a point to interact with funny people and avoid the dour ones. Maybe you ought to hide the doom and gloom people on your Facebook page and interact with the funny ones. Allow your interaction with them to brighten your day.
Fifth, plan and participate in a fun event at least once a week. Go to a movie with friends. Give miniature golfing a try. Attend a comedy club and watch the fun of improvisation. Find something you like to do and do it.
Start now and determine you will apply the secret elixir of laughter and become young at heart. If you doubt it is worth the effort take a moment and review the list of benefits presented earlier in this chapter. It’s time to take your medicine.