I wonder if my life is more humorous than others? Some people plod along without incident or mishap but I find mayhem and laughter wherever I go, from a simple walk around the block to a long trip. For example, my luggage ends up in Pittsburgh when I fly to California. And if an incident is not inherently funny, I twist it around to force some humor out, as I did with the TSA Pre program.
I decide that my life is not much different than others. Everyone who travels by plane experiences lost luggage. The difference is that I now choose to see the humor in life. In my earlier years I stressed over normal life events: school, career experiences, parenthood, life transitions, lost luggage:everything led to anxiety. I was also impatient and overly opinionated. I expected perfection and fairness, and I often took on the burdens of others. For me, life was serious business and demanded serious responses. Even events that were supposed to bring relief, like hanging out with friends brought stress: cooking, preparing, selecting the best wines, finding fresh flowers. Camping trips involved half a day of packing, organizing, and agonizing. Family visits were always filled with dysfunction and drama.
Letting go of the stress and mayhem came from simply getting pooped out I aged. At some point, I got tired of juggling everything and trying to save the world. I let go of expectations and constant striving. Few things really mattered anymore. I realized that fresh, younger generations are eager to take on the burdens of the world and I gladly passed the baton. With the weight of the world now sloughed off onto eager others, my perspective changed. Humor bubbled to the surface.
- Lowered blood pressure
- Increased vascular blood flow and oxygenation of the blood
- Workout to the diaphragm and abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg, and back muscles
- Reduced stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline
- Increased response of tumor- and disease-killing cells such as Gamma-interferon and T-cells
- Defense against respiratory infections–even reducing the frequency of colds–by immunoglobulon in saliva.
- Increased memory and learning; in a study at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, humor during instruction led to increased test scores
- Improved alertness, creativity, and memory
All of the benefits address natural aging problems: high blood pressure, blood flow, disease onset, infection, sagging muscles, and reduced memory. So maybe, laughter is part of Mother Nature’s plan for aging people. Maybe it is a reward for a lifetime focused on others. In my life, laughing—in contrast to stressing—is a gift of age.