Tuesday, May 17, 2011

L is for...

L is for...laughing, language

I've been wanting to do a post on language for a long time. I've even started one. I'm really interested in how language evolves especially when I read British or Australian blogs and wonder what the hell they're talking about. I recognize the words, they are English, but the meaning totally escapes me. Well, maybe not totally.

Anyway this is not about that.

L is for laughing.

We like to laugh around here. It makes life so much easier. I can say that cause I have personal experience to the contrary. There were a lot of years around here when no one ever laughed. Somewhere along the way, with help, we made a paradigm shift. Not that we don't still have the occasional moment, but that's all it is, an occasional moment.


Laughing is good for you. It makes you feel better, boosts your immune system and helps you rid yourself of stress. People who laugh easily are less likely to have a heart attack. Plus it gives your internals and muscles a good workout and it's way more fun than getting on the exercise bike.

We all like to be around people who make us laugh, the person with the quick and easy quip. Marc's like that. You can generally kiss any conversation goodbye when he comes around because it will turn into a joke fest. One day, after a three day art show, the gallery manager came up to me to tell me how funny Marc is.

It must be so much fun living with him”, she said to me.

Oh, yeah. It's a laugh riot.

But I get mine in too. And it's important to be able to laugh at yourself.

Laughing is something we all do in the same language. A smile is a bridge across cultures, something we all understand without words.

But laughter has a way of popping out inappropriately as well. When we see something terrible, we are just as likely to bust out with a laugh than with a cry. At least I am.

One summer, my brother and I wanted to go water skiing but the bay was too choppy so our father crossed the bay to one of the coastal bayous. My brother was skiing and he crossed the wake just as our father started a u-turn. He was going pretty fast and the turn had the effect of slingshotting my brother around and slammed him into the bank. His momentum when he hit the bank flipped him up in a cartwheel, arms and legs akimbo, and flung him further inland.

I laughed.

It was funny. I couldn't help it.

My father was not amused. He yelled at me for laughing and was convinced he had killed his only son. As it turned out, my brother wasn't hurt except for a bruise or two, but the memory of seeing him spinning in the air still makes me laugh to this day.

Laughter is contagious.

I had a yoga instructor once who would have us laugh for one minute. Laying flat on our backs on our mats, she would say, 'start laughing'.

'Start laughing?'


Ok. Ha ha. Hee hee. And before we knew it the whole class was laughing genuinely at the absurdity of it all.

The thing is, we don't really need to know what is so funny when we are around someone who is laughing. Eventually, it will infect us too.

Live well, laugh loud and often.


  1. The other week I listed a few of the phrases that Mike says that will make me howl no matter the context - it's kind of fun to have shorthand for "ok let's take a laugh break here before we get too maudlin."

    I remember an older cousin's wedding. Another cousin and I were sitting in the pews & got the VERY inappropriate giggles. We were trying to imagine walking down the center aisle of our church in our wedding gowns. Our church HAD no center aisle. So we were envisioning us climbing over the center pews and the guests sitting in them. It was all very silly, but we had the hardest time stopping the mirth by the time the bride made her entrance.

    P.S. years later when I got married in my church we just took out all those center pews & stashed them in the fellowship hall :)

  2. I enjoyed this post - yes laughter is important, sometimes it does leave us for a while - and we seem not to notice until we start again.

    I'm glad my "gift" has come back.

  3. I keep bits and pieces of every tale I read, but when a story makes me laugh I keep the book; I read it again too.

    Laughing feels so good. After a good laugh, I feel like I just got a massage.

    Like, I laugh at strange moments. If something is funny, I can't help it. I went to a funeral once, the name of the guy was Richard. The family set up an altar and displayed a plaque that say "We'll miss you Dick." Ellen, I wish I had seen it before I went to pay my respects to the family--I burst out laughing right in front of the widow. I just laughed thinking about it.

  4. Oh yes, this was much fun. Now, go-ahead, write the other post, about bloggers using different English.

  5. This is a great post. I've thought about laughter and smiles before, and wondered why they happen. It's a completely involuntary response, and sometimes the harder you try not to laugh, the harder it is to suppress it. A smile is the most universal expression of human emotion - it means the same thing in every culture, everywhere in the world, and I find that oddly fascinating. Why do we smile when we're happy? Why do we laugh when something is funny? What purpose does it serve? I guess the same could be said of tears, but that's another topic for another post.

    My brain is a very weird place to be, sometimes.

  6. I love a good laugh. And I've found that the very best laughs of all are those when we laugh at ourselves ... lol ... :)

  7. Laugh is my FAVORITE L word. Honestly. There is nothing better then a good laugh. I think that is why our marriage is so strong - we laugh at everything - mostly absurdities, but if you can't laugh, there is no hope to get you through the bad times.

    Your yoga teacher is great - and I would've laughed at my brother too. In fact I have - he was forever doing dumb stuff.

  8. Everyone I love has one thing in common.. a good sense of humour. Life would be so boring in a laughless existence.

  9. I agree about laughing. Across all cultures laughter has a place. And yes, it is very contagious. :)

  10. What a great post. One day not long ago, I happened to think of something funny that a friend had said the day before. I was delivering my route and just started laughing. I think if anyone saw me they thought I was insane lol.

    Also recently, I saw something similar to what you described, except it happened to a stranger. He took a pratfall and i just started laughing. Horrible, right? But it was funny and I laughed before had time to even think.

    That video is great. Have you ever heard the Okeh Laughing Record? I'll try to find it for you.

  11. came over from Hilary's POTW to say hello. love the laughter advice. truly lifts the soul. :)

  12. I used to laugh out of control weepy laughter until my husband said "snap out of it"...so I did.

  13. THANKYOU Ellen - great post and video - given me a really happy laughy start to the day!

  14. What a wonderfully, life-affirming post, simply beautiful! So glad Hilary pointed me in your direction (see me laughing?).

  15. Laughing is infectious!! Thanks for the reminder of how soothing laughing can be.
    Congrats on your POTW

  16. When we can't laugh at our own folly places one foot in the grave. I always admired my Grandfathers crows feet along his eyes and looked forward to getting some myself. He always was a happy go easy fellow, just like I am most of the time.

  17. I agree completely about laughter. I laugh all the time, as much as I can, shamelessly!!

    Also agree about language - about reading British and/or Australian blogs and wondering what the fuh they are saying!

    Great post, Ellen.

  18. Loved this! Came over from Hilary's. Congrats on your POTW!

  19. I like those laughs when you just can't stop, the sort that make tears run down your face, I always feel much better after a laugh like that.

  20. I once told a story to a friend and she was laughing so hard that she said she thought it was curing her cancer!!

    I laugh at a lot, especially at myself and it really helps

    wonderful post ellen
    well done
    brava on POTW

  21. The mental image of your brother makes me smile, too. I'm afraid I'd have been laughing with you in that boat. :) Great post. Congrats on POTW.

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  23. Love to laugh. Good thing, as he who does absurd things, gives me so much to laugh about!

  24. Hmmm....I don't know, I'm Australian and you don't seem to have much trouble with me :))

  25. Hmmm....I don't know, I'm Australian and you don't seem to have much trouble with me :))

  26. Aw, I love this Ellen. I tend to laugh inappropriately, myself. Like when I'm nervous, or see something shocking--like a brother doing air spins. It must be some kine of self-preservation instinct... ;)


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