Linda Stamper Boyne: Nothing’s better than a good laugh, or 10
Vail, CO, Colorado
I read somewhere that American adults laugh an average of 10 times per day. Ten times seems like a fair amount until you consider we’re awake for approximately 16 hours a day. Then it just doesn’t seem like enough.
I love to laugh, especially full-on belly laughs and uncontrollable giggles. It just feels so good! But really, who doesn’t like to laugh? Well, actually, I have met people who were humorless. Or perhaps they just weren’t amused by me.
Regardless, laughing has tremendous health benefits both physically and emotionally. It reduces stress and relaxes the entire body. It creates social bonds with the people you are laughing with. It boosts the immune system. It relieves pain by releasing endorphins, which is a funny word by itself. Endorphins. Ha! And laughter can protect your heart against cardiovascular disease by improving the function of the blood vessels and increasing blood flow. And if done correctly, I have found that laughing can substitute for an ab workout.
We all find humor in different things, and how we look at the world determines how much material we have to entertain us. Our environment influences how our sense of humor is developed. I learned to laugh at the absurdity of life from my parents. I find a lot of things amusing and I certainly have plenty of opportunity to laugh at myself.
But there’s a difference between having a sense of humor and being funny, and I began to wonder if being funny was a genetic trait or a socialized, learned behavior. My mom, who is the both the source of and inspiration for many a column topic, has taken to writing me e-mails just to “empty her brain,” as she puts it.
Some of them are hilarious. This one had me cracking up. It was her commentary on the Olympics.
“Did you see in the paper this week that a group wants to get pole dancing in the Olympics. Apparently, this has become a fitness sport, moving out of the nudie bars. The article was kind of funny because they said it was a possibility.
“Whoever thought that curling would become the darling of the Olympics? And it must be popular because there is always a match on TV. Or maybe it is the same match and it just takes forever to finish it. I think it ranks slightly below ironing as a sport.
“Tell the boys that they can’t do ski jumping. My gosh, how would you get yourself to do that the first time? Crazy.
“I was reliving some of my worst skiing experiences watching the downhill and slalom in the snow, rain and fog. Complete whiteout. I remember being on the mountain and not being able to tell up from down, except down was the way I was falling. Gee, I thought I didn’t like Alpine skiing because you had to get up so early. Falling down is what I did when I wasn’t dangling from chairlifts.”
(A sidebar: One of her most embarrassing moments happened while skiing at Mt. Bachelor in the early ’60s. Separated from my dad, she was riding the chairlift with a man, chatting away, not realizing the comb in her parka pocket had slipped part way out and wedged itself into the chair. So when she stood to get off, she was attached to the chair and found herself dangling above the ground, hanging from a comb. But it doesn’t stop there! It gets better! After they stopped the chair and detached her, she skied down, mortified, to meet my dad for lunch at the car. Just as she has finished telling him the whole embarrassing tale, a man walked up to the group tailgating at the car next to them and said, “You are not going to believe what just happened! I was riding the chairlift with this lady …” I’m not sure she was able to finish her lunch but from that point forward she was an adamant pocket zipper.)
As the e-mail continued, I decided that our environment can teach us what is funny and mold our sense of humor, but being funny is an innate trait. It’s just something you are, like being athletic or vocally talented or left handed. Thanks for giving me more than 10 laughs a day, Mom.
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