I believe that everyday peace is amplified by moments of silliness, the kind of silliness that makes one giggle, or laugh heartily and fill up a room with joy. Distress and joy cannot occupy the same emotional space at the same time, at least not for me. So why not employ laughter as a means to cultivate peace?

When my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and well into her late stages, her physical and emotional angst was quieted a bit by what we called “Silly Sessions”. My siblings and I would blast Cole Porter, Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra, pull her up from the sofa or bed and have her dance and sing with us.

"Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain." - Charlie Chaplin

Delicately negotiating each step and trying desperately to keep rhythm, my aging, shrinking mom would follow with trepidation and then finally wild abandon. The movements would soften the hard lines of worry etched on her face as a slow sweet smile emerged. It was lovely to witness the relaxation and joy that came from a good chuckle.

Dancing, singing and laughing with her would lighten my own heart and before I knew it, I forgot about my own fatigue in caring for her. I forgot about the financial constraints, the past, the future. My worry dissolved into pure unadulterated peace that would often last beyond the last dance.

Opportunities to laugh are endless:

Reading something humorous.

Sharing funny stories.

Watching comedy.

Noticing the humor in everyday situations.

As for a personal example, I regularly watch a video of my 1-year old nephew laughing.

There may be therapeutic benefits of laughter that range from decreasing stress hormones to improving the immune system.  Even if laughter does nothing but provide a temporary relief from an all too serious existence, it’s worth it.

It just feels good to chuckle from time to time and let peace waft in.

We all battle with internal storms of far ranging emotions when issues arise that challenge us. Life will always have its share of despair and turmoil. Whether caring for a parent who’s ill, struggling with a job, overcoming addiction or coping with a relationship that ends, finding those moments of simplistic joy, spiced with laughter will work wonders for the soul.

___________________________________

Teresa Oefinger is a middle school science teacher and Personal and Professional Development Coach who believes understanding and addressing ones whole self is essential to living a joyful life. She has been happily married for 32 years and is the mother of two adult daughters who inspired her column called Help! Parenting Teens in the Ark Newspaper at Tiburon, California from 2005 to 2009. She blogs on issues of Whole Life Living here.

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