♫Loud and long and clear!♫

Does anyone remember that song? From Mary Poppins {If not, here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOMqqI-kzHY }.   I used to LOVE it growing up.  And when it pops into my brain, it still makes me smile.  And, just as much as I loved that song, I also love to laugh. Imagine that.  And so does our society as a whole. We see this often. We feel uncomfortable? We make a joke.  We are feeling sad? Listen to jokes. Break the tension? Bring up an inside joke. We are angry or frustrated? A little dose of humor.  

Over this thanksgiving holiday, I was privileged to be able to fly home to California, and spend the holiday with family and friends {who have become family}.  My travels were anything but humorous. I needed to arrive at the airport hours before my flight (1) to beat the traffic and snowy road conditions (2) to wait in line to check my bag and (3) to get through the line at TSA.  Then to my surprise, there was no traffic, no line to check my bag, and I flew through TSA in five minutes flat. Because I had allotted so much travel time and waiting in line time, I now had ample time to sit in the airport – super exciting, I know.  3 hours to wait. If anyone knows me {and I like to think we are getting to know each other each week we spend time in these blogs together}. I am very goal oriented. I like getting to the destination. Sitting through the journey is difficult for me.  So sitting and WAITING for my flight was tough! I was bored and just wanted to get to my destination. The longest three hours of my life crawled by, and FINALLY I get to start boarding a PACKED plane. I was B48 {I know, I checked in 17 minutes after my flight time-rookie mistake}, so I was anxious the entire time, hoping to get either an aisle or window seat.  I stood in line praying that the person who sits next to me doesn’t want to talk {as one does} so, I can take a nice long nap. After all of that – I sat in my seat so excited to get to my final destination, to celebrate and laugh through the Thanksgiving holiday with some of my favorite people in the world. I began to reflect on my trip through the airport, not even 5 minutes prior.  As people piled into the plane I sat {in my window seat}, reflecting on my mood and affect the past three hours. I wasn’t angry or upset by any means, but I also hadn’t spoken or laughed within that time period! Could that be possible? Yup, yup it was.

Have you ever had those moments? Those moments you realize, if anyone had met me in that three hour period, they would think I am the most stoic or aloof human being {which I like to think I am anything BUT that!}.  

Anyway – long story short – I spent the weekend in constant laughter- Laughing until you cry – grandpa weezing type laughter {as my sister and I like to call it}. Which is easier to do when no one has to worry about work or responsibilities.  Even when little disagreements arose, we were able to resolve our minor discord with laughter. And it got me thinking – In my first trip to the airport, despite there being no lines, me getting a window seat, and no flight delays – I was annoyed by the wait and anxious about where I would be sitting.  Contrast, to my return flight – after a long weekend full of laughter – I had a 3 hour delay, and I wasn’t annoyed in the least {well maybe a little, all I wanted to do was get home to my puppy!}. I was reminiscing on the weekend. When I reflect back, the difference between the two travel days was laughter.    

There is a reason the saying goes, “laughter is the best medicine”.  Because it changes our brains and our bodies response to our environment {I know, here we go again, another brain based explanation} Ready or not, here it goes.  Jokes, in particular, have been found to distract us from our information processing frontal lobe, and into our emotional processing nucleus accumbens- which is known for its role in our “pleasure and reward system”.  Researchers have further found that our hypothalamus activates our loud laughter – and through laughter our brain releases dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins {which are known as the “feel good neurotransmitters”} which releases tension.  Laughter also has been found to form social bonds between people, which can strengthen relationships and attachment. 

So what I am trying to say is… get out there and laugh!  Go play a game with your kids or partner, or friends! Go to a comedy show! Be silly! Go listen to the comedy radio station! Let loose and let laughter take over! 

*The information contained herein is not therapeutic advice nor a substitute for therapy. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any mental health problem. If you are located within the United States and you need emergency assistance please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. If you are located within Colorado you may also call the Colorado Crisis Line at 844-493-TALK (8255).

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