Mental Health, mental illness

The Best Medicine Turns Out to Actually be Others’ Laughter

laughter is the best medicine

Today, I babysat. I was pretty tired at first, and felt embarrassed that due to car trouble, the child’s mother had to come pick me up and take me to their house. But then… I made my little friend laugh. The world was right again.

I learned a new trick with him a couple of days ago: he likes to push the fire engine back and forth between us, and if I say the word “bump!” as I bump it back, he cracks up. He laughed so hard at one time that day that he began to cough and agreed to water (so unusual, I cannot stress) and paused to drink it at times while he was playing/laughing.

At one point today, I felt the need to respond to a text message while we were playing – I kept pushing the toy back to him, but he vocalized that I wasn’t doing it right by omitting the “bump”.

He and I have had our moments of struggle when he doesn’t want to go to bed, or change his clothes, or eat lunch, or whatever. But his laugh makes everything worth it. I find new things all the time that make him laugh, and it lights up my whole world.

He has a book that makes sounds. The Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site board book. One of the sounds is a person yawning. Today, I pretended to yawn along with it – he kept pushing the button and checking to make sure I, too, was yawning. (And yes, I always was.)

Another moment today, we were sitting on the floor with a box of markers. I took the lid and fanned my face, kind of jokingly, because I was feeling a little warm. He looked at me with curiosity, so I fanned his face a couple of times. His hair blew in the breeze and he gave me a big, sweet smile.

I love to laugh. I laugh more than any person I can think of. It was not uncommon, growing up, for people to tell me I laughed too frequently. Boys my age often thought I was flirting with them because I laughed at all their jokes. Truth be told, I’m easily amused. I didn’t see the problem with it, and I still don’t.

That being said, I was always desperate to make others laugh, and it didn’t come easy for me. When I was younger, my two brothers – one older, one younger – would make me laugh constantly. I remember a moment when Older was making jokes about how he could say literally anything and I would probably laugh. He put on a serious expression, stared me down, and enunciated: “Root. Beer.” I was immediately hysterical.

My brothers were either not nearly so easily amused (definitely true) or were too cool to laugh at their little sister’s jokes (also a possibility.) I tried, a lot, but their lack of laughter led me to assume I simply wasn’t funny.

These days, when I make anyone laugh, particularly adults, I am truly thrilled to the core. There are still lots of times when I get a mere smile or no response at all. When I achieve true laughter from a friend or colleague or my husband, I feel shocked, but elated.

To me, there is not much better than making people laugh. I still have to work at it. Maybe not quite as hard as when my defining characteristic was “sister”, but still, effort is certainly required.

The expression may be true: “Laughter is the best medicine”. I would never attempt to deny my love of laughter. But I think, perhaps, others laughing with me is my absolute favorite thing and the ultimate mood lift. It takes me significantly more effort to make other’s laugh than to laugh, myself, but perhaps that is why it’s so special.


4 thoughts on “The Best Medicine Turns Out to Actually be Others’ Laughter”

  1. Oh how I agree that laughter is the best medicine. I’m glad you have such fun with the little boy you babysit.

    Finding humor and joy in the little things in life is a gift.

    Sometimes when I’m a little nervous I go into humor mode. One funny statement after another. The other person’s laughter and even mine (I like to laugh at myself) seems to give me moments of mild elation. Once my therapist asked me if saying funny stuff to her was to get a reaction. I was like “Well, come on! Of course!” If I said funny stuff and the person didn’t laugh I’d probably slip down into my chair and feel minuscule.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes it is! It is such a joy when people legitimately laugh at your humor and you know it really gave them pleasure. That is where my elation stems from in those case. I know that’s why you love that little boy laughing so much at your “bumps” and other sweet funny things.

        Liked by 1 person

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