Give Yourself The Gift Of Laughter For The New Year
“Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.” ~Bill Cosby
Happy New Year everyone!
Here we are at the start of a new year. Clean slate, fresh start, time to dig in and work on the promises we’ve made to ourselves before the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.
According to the website StatisticBrain.com, the percentage of people who make New Year’s Resolutions is 45%, yet the percentage of people who are successful in keeping them is 8%. (Source: University of Scranton: Journal of Clinical Psychology, January 1, 2014)
That’s not a lot.
For people living with Multiple Sclerosis, nothing changes when the clock strikes midnight. Our limbs don’t suddenly become strong and our energy levels don’t send us flying through the air doing endless cartwheels.
We still have MS. What New Year’s Resolutions can we make and keep?
“I will walk 10,000 steps a day.” “I will feel energized and conquer the world.” “I will leave my cane at home.”
I’ve never liked New Year’s Resolutions.
When I was first diagnosed, my first MS neurologist told me there would be an MS cure in five years. So when 1992 came and went, there was no MS cure in sight. Not even the first disease-modifying medication.
Did I feel deflated? Depressed? Lose hope?
No. Instead, I began to learn, more than ever, the importance of focusing on the blessings I have despite disability. I slowly taught myself to find ways of coping with the physical changes I’d encountered. For me, I looked for laughter - in movies, books and television – the kind of laughter that transports you to another place. A place where you can forget your troubles for a while.
Laughter always carries me to a meditative state where I can focus on the lighter side of life. It relaxes me, and through that relaxation it, in turn, “de-stresses” me.
What’s the funniest movie you’ve ever seen? I have a few, but one of them is “My Favorite Year” starring Peter O’Toole.
When I was first diagnosed I was in bad shape. My legs were completely numb, and I had to re-learn to walk properly with one leg that felt like dead weight. I was taking a high dosage of steroids, and the side effects were astounding. Aside from blowing up like a balloon, I couldn’t sleep and or think clearly.
Despite all of this, I wanted to go back to work.
I was starting a new job, and on the first day I tried as hard as I could to listen to my boss’s instructions while standing in his office. Standing for five minutes seemed like an eternity. My legs began to give out. My mind wandered.
After only one hour I knew I had to go home.
I called my brother and he promptly picked me up. He drove me to his apartment, told me to rest in his bed, and quietly turned on the TV. He pushed the power button on his VCR that was preset to my favorite scene in “My Favorite Year.” I began to laugh. I laughed and laughed and laughed.
And I felt better.
Laughter is good for your health. It’s a release for your body and mind. It can boost the immune system, release endorphins (the “feel-good” chemicals in your body) and protect the heart (increases blood flow).
According to HelpGuide.org, laughter can provide the following benefits:
- Boost immunity
- Lower stress hormones
- Decrease pain
- Relax muscles
- Prevent heart disease
- Add joy to your life
- Ease anxiety and fear
- Relieve stress
- Improve mood
It also helps to have a caring brother…
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