Some of you are getting crabby, and it’s not a good look. My New Year’s Resolution is to laugh at least once a week until I snort liquid out my nose. It’s a noble goal.
Ages ago, well maybe last year, I presented humorous speeches and enjoyed sharing laughter with my audience. Now, I peer at little boxes of faces on a Zoom webinar workshop and try to engage positive conversation while I manage a chat room, manipulate my slides, pause to answer a question, and follow a volatile outline of useful information. Next year, I am determined to gather a few living people and tell stories. Their laughter may be muffled behind masks, but I’ll savor the eye contact and the personal connection. Can we aim for summer to once again laugh together?
I can imagine future parties where we’ll find the group of gregarious guests gathered next to the punch bowl because they have the best punch lines. The most successful events will create a positive atmosphere where you can mingle with joyful people, nosh on appetizers, toast the New Year, toast every year, toast a new Instant Pot recipe, and laugh yourself silly. The horrors and hindsight of 2020 will be banned from conversation.
(Note: This encouragement to be happy doesn’t negate the true tragedies of this year. Many people have lost loved ones, many remain in the hospital, people lost their businesses, and there is an increase in cases of depression and domestic abuse. My message is to prompt hope we can smile again in the future.)
In learning to laugh again, some women may fear bouts of boisterous laughter because guffawing makes them wet their pants. I don’t see any problems with that. By midlife we either accept that our bodies will betray and embarrass us on a daily basis, or we go live in the basement with a carton of ice cream and watch sad movies. (Been there, done that, no fun.) It takes brave risk-takers to chuckle and chortle with wild abandon.
I once caused more than 800,000 people to laugh because of my viral essay titled, “Don’t Fart During an MRI.” HuffPost Live interviewed me from New York. Now, the story follows me everywhere. Let’s return to humor, even if we need to act like children and fart out loud. You go first.
Did you know laughter is good for your health? Studies show that regular laughing boosts your immune system, oxygenates your blood, tightens your stomach muscles (hallelujah!), and releases healthy chemicals in your brain that improve your mood. A cheerful heart really is the best medicine.
In case you’ve forgotten how to laugh, here’s a simple technique to practice in quiet solitude when your calendar is empty, and we all know it is. The exercise applies to all ages, all sexes, every ethnic category, most religions, and even some Southern Baptists:
1. Squint your eyes.
2. Pull your mouth into a tight grin
3. Make a high squeal then lower your voice and make a series of “Ha, Ha, Ha.”
4. Rock back and forth.
5. Repeat several times.
If that doesn’t make you chuckle, it certainly will amuse those around you. Next year, make it a mission to laugh several times a week and you’ll discover more people want to be around you, even on Zoom. Be the light of laughter among the growing hordes of miserable people desperately searching for a chuckle. It’s your duty and solemn responsibility to share the joy, so go forth and laugh. You’re all invited over next summer.