I have a chapter in my soon-to-be-released book PLAY NICE in Your Sandbox at Home called “Here’s to your health.” In the chapter I propose that how each person in a relationship takes care of him or herself impacts the overall health of the relationship between them. Since I seem to have laughter on my mind these days, I thought I would share with you an excerpt from that chapter.
The reason laughter is on my mind is that I have the privilege of presenting this month’s edition of the San Juan College Broadening Horizons Series, sponsored by Citizen’s Bank. My topic is Health Benefits of Laughter. If you are reading this on February 1 you can come see the presentation this evening at 7:00pm in the College Little Theater. If you are reading this after the fact, you probably didn’t miss much .
Here’s the excerpt:
Along with the normal recommendations for health such as diet, exercise, rest, water, etc., I want to add one more you may not typically consider: laughter. Laughter has many health benefits. In fact, there is an entire science called gelotology which is dedicated to the study of the health benefits of laughter. Laughter can reduce blood pressure by increasing vascular blood flow and oxygenation of the blood. Hearty laughter is a good physical workout as it exercises muscles in the diaphragm, face, legs, and back. The respiratory system also gets worked well during hearty laughter, and stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are reduced. Laughter is said to improve one’s immune system and improve alertness, creativity, and memory. Someone remind me please that I may need to laugh more—just in case I forget.
So to do my part in improving your overall health and that of your marriage, allow me to share with you some words of wit I picked up along my life’s journey. I heard of a nine-year-old boy named Johnny who was spending a few days visiting his grandmother. He came in from playing one day and asked his grandmother what it’s called when two people sleep in the same room and one is on top of the other. Grandmother was a little taken aback, but she decided to tell him the truth. She said, “It’s called having sex,” to which the boy replied, “Okay, Grandma,” and went back out to play.
A short while later Johnny came in, rather irritated, and told grandma, “it is not called having sex. It is called ‘bunk beds’ and Billy’s mother wants to speak with you right now!”
George Bernard Shaw said, “You don’t stop laughing when you grow old; you grow old when you stop laughing.” So if it’s been a while since you and your spouse have done some serious laughing together, may I suggest you not waste many more moments before correcting this imbalance.
Chapter Challenge: Set a time to evaluate your overall health. Determine to take steps to improve in areas that need improvement and to maintain in areas that are currently working for you. Map out a strategy with specific objectives and timelines for how you are going to take good care of yourself. Be sure to include regular times for fun and laughter in your overall plan.
While you’re working on your own health and wellness, it’s okay to encourage your spouse to take good care of him or herself as well. If you do suggest that, please do so with a gentle, loving spirit. And only say it when you are committed to doing the same for him or her. Just for fun, you might want to Google the 1929 song “Button Up Your Overcoat.” It reinforces the point that I’m making here.
Bettering yourself is a big deal. When you’re feeling good, it is easier to put up with little annoyances and not let them get the best of you. When you’re feeling good, it is easier for you to give and receive love from your mate than when you’re down or discouraged or ailing in some way.