Truth Byte # 32

Truth Byte # 32

Laughter is everywhere, so don’t miss it.

I swim on Monday evenings.  Ok, let’s be honest, I don’t really swim.

Actually, my kids swim on Monday evenings.  And I have to take them.  So every Monday evening, I get into my sexy/mom bathing suit, swim one laborious lap in the slow lane, and then hang out in the hot-tub (which is only slightly hotter than a warm bath at home).  I spend that sweet half hour people-watching and giving myself an island of demand-free time at our local family YMCA.

This Monday, I had quite a remarkable experience.  

As you can imagine, there isn’t really much new that happens at a community pool on a Monday night.  It’s moms and dads and babysitters in flip-flops or bare feet or jeans or imitation Lululemon yoga pants, texting furiously from the viewing section for the half hour that they are kid-free.  Some of the newer parents video-tape their kids on their smart phones.  Teenagers flirt beside me in the hot-tub.  A lifeguard that’s half my age strolls along the edge of the pool, telling kids not to run.  Pretty standard.

But this Monday was different.

This Monday, I met a man that will be forever imprinted on my mind.

He emerged up the ladder from the slow swim lane with a deep belly laugh.  His dark brown body was covered with black, wiry hair.  And I mean covered.  His entire back was gorilla-styles. His big, round belly, was also covered in hair.  And the best part was that he had a top knot of shocking white hair on his head, and a long, flowing white beard.  This man must have been my grandfather’s age or older.  

And he was laughing.  

His belly shook as he laughed and laughed.  There was no one around him, and I had no idea why he was laughing.  Then, out of nowhere, he reached his arms up to heaven, slapped them into a salute over his head, and bowed deeply, as if thanking God for the joke.

I watched, amazed, trying not to get caught watching, as this formidable man made his way to the change rooms.  He walked like a retired soldier, tall and disciplined, and yet he smiled the whole way there.  I went back to watching my kids, and lost track of him for a while.  Then I heard a beautiful, deep baritone humming a tune.  The man was in the hot tub, to my left, with eyes closed and humming the most incredible song.  It felt like something from the halls of ancient temple.  

And once again, he was smiling uncontrollably.

I did not talk to the man, or even make eye-contact with him.  My half hour in the hot tub is my chance to disengage from the whirl of my world, and I am not really there to make friends, to be honest.  But I haven’t been able to stop thinking about him.  What I loved about him was he was just there, laughing and smiling and singing and connecting with his version of God through a local family YMCA.  

He was happy.  Truly, genuinely, deeply happy, just swimming and hot-tubbing and living his happy life.  

This man has got me thinking about laughter.  Why not just laugh out loud, for no reason that anyone else understands? I remember being a kid and falling into fits of uncontrollable laughter. I was often told to laugh more quietly. I was often told it was the wrong time/place/context.  I was often told it was unladylike.  

That man has convinced me that all those words I was told were lies.

There is no wrong place for laughter, especially if you are a child.  Sure, there are serious places like hospitals and funeral homes and the house of that cranky aunt that doesn’t really like kids but likes your mom.  Sure, there are places that don’t really warrant a deep belly laugh, but those are just a handful. Leftover fear of being inappropriate in those handful of places shouldn’t stop us from laughing big the rest of the time.

There was a social experiment done where certain people were put on crowded trains and while watching some handheld device, started to laugh.  When they laughed long enough and hard enough, other people would start laughing too, even if they had no idea what the “planted” people were laughing about.  

Laughter is contagious.  

It’s good for your brain, your body, and your relationships.  It bonds people and relieves stress.  It makes you feel good.

And if you do it in an unexpected public place, someone may just blog about it.

Today, what if you found a way to bring in more laughter? It could be joking around with your family or watching a funny movie.  It could be looking at the fashion choices you made as a teenager (yikes) or watching cats do crazy things online.  Whatever it is, today you could bring the laughter back.  And you could be that crazy happy person that smiles and sings and swims, just living your life to the brim. 

Ready to clear out that old yucky stuff that is keeping your laughter buried? 

Dr. Saira Sabzaali

Dr. Saira Sabzaali

Dr. Saira (she/her) provides mental health support through individual counselling, groups, immersive workshops/courses, and free educational content. Over the last 14 years, we have helped men and women of many backgrounds find answers to their questions about work, life, love, and meaning. Much mainstream psychology overlooks spirituality, family values, and community context, so we have decided to specialize in serving clients who are ready for change and also want to include their cultural values and spiritual beliefs into therapy.

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