My mom used to say that when things were not up to par, “Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone.” She also used to sing a song with the words, “Get your hat and get your coat, leave your worries on the doorstep, life can be so sweet, on the sunny side of the street.”
Often, when things were not looking up, a laugh would sometimes quench the depression. Before continuing this column on laughter, I would like you to do the following: Look in the mirror, open your mouth and grin. Take a deep breath and begin to laugh without making a sound. Your whole body will shake. Dr. Norman Cousins referred to this as “internal jogging.” You can’t imagine the chemicals that are released in your body that reduce stress, elevated blood pressure, anxiety, depression and even the risk of heart attacks. Even the immune system releases cells that destroy viruses, bacteria and cancer cells.
Often with laughter, forgiveness comes into the picture. During my practice of medicine, I always made it plain to my patients that if they wished to become well, they would have to call up the person (family or not) with whom they had a grudge and ask for forgiveness.
Speaking of forgiveness, the other day I heard a minister in one of his sermons relate the following story about forgiveness. There was an elderly lady who lived by herself and was very lonesome. In fact, she had even stopped laughing. She decided to get a parrot she could talk to. She treated this parrot as if it were her baby. She bought the best of food and other playthings for the parrot. The parrot, in return, endeared her with terms of love and affection.
One day, as she took the cover off the parrot’s cage, he began to call her the most miserable names. She could not understand this after giving him such affection. She became very angry, to the point where she took the parrot and put it in the freezer of her refrigerator. As time went on, she could hear the parrot asking for forgiveness for what he had called her. As she heard his voice, she became very sad, and in a fit of forgiveness, she took him out of the freezer. He was shaking and almost experiencing the end of life. She warmed him up and put a blanket around him, and he looked at her with forgiving eyes.
I would like to know what that frozen turkey had called her. It must have been a hell of a derogatory term!
Just remember, things may seem rough at this time, but you are alive and breathing if you are reading this column, and thank God for that!