The chief goal for the month of May has been “Laugh out loud.” A typical young child laughs more than 400 times a day, a typical adult—fifteen times. Before I started making an effort to laugh more, I wonder how often I hit even fifteen.
Too often I was drifting around, feeling either distracted or aggrieved—neither state conducive to laughter. Doing more laughing has made a difference in my happiness, and it’s easy to understand why.
First, under the rule that we should act as we want to feel, I feel much happier when I’m laughing out loud.
Second, one of life’s most exquisite pleasures is to make people laugh, and so by laughing, it’s obvious that I’m making other people feel great, which in turn makes me feel good. It’s heartbreaking, in fact, to see the Big Girl and the Little Girl each gaze into my face to watch me laugh with them. Even the Big Man seems more pleased with himself.
Third, studies show that laughter is healthy—it lowers blood pressure and cortisol levels, boosts immunity, and may even help you lose weight.
But it’s not easy to do a lot of laughing out loud. “It is easy to be heavy; hard to be light,” wrote G. K. Chesterton.
On an airplane, they warn you to put on your own oxygen mask first, before trying to help those around you. I’ve realized I need to pay a lot of attention to my oxygen mask.
I’ve been taking much greater care to dress appropriately. I’m always, always cold, and I’ve gotten better at bringing a sweater, wearing a warmer coat than most people, putting on a hat even if no one else seems to need one. I made a major discovery this winter: wearing a body suit under a dress. (An excellent example of the rule to identify the problem. I hadn’t really thought about how I might be able to dress more warmly.)
I’m better about making sure I don’t get too hungry. I seem to need to eat far more often than most adults, and I certainly can’t wait until 8:00 pm for dinner.
I follow the wise admonition of the Duke of Wellington: “Always make water when you can.”
I don’t know why it has taken me so long to catch on, but over-the-counter medication is amazingly effective. These days, if I have a headache, I take something for it!
I try not to lose my temper. Nothing makes me crabbier than my own bad behavior. That’s another reason why laughing out loud is such a good thing to try to do. It’s hard to feel or act crabby when I’m laughing.
Reading this over, I sound so self-congratulatory. I shouldn’t. Being light-hearted is a big struggle for me, every day. Nagging, snapping, complaining, ignoring…these come easily. It’s easy to be heavy–hard to be light.