Susan Sparks: Death, Taxes, and Laughter

There are three sure things in this life.

The first is death. Not much to say about that.

The second is taxes. All I know about that is if you put “the” and “IRS” together, it spells “theirs.”

The third, and more hopeful, sure thing is that laughter can change our life.

As Charlie Chaplin once said, “Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.” With a little distance, we start to realize how most of the things we worried about in the past were simply not worth worrying about. Time brings perspective, and laughter helps us get that perspective.

When we can laugh at ourselves, we can forgive ourselves, and when we can forgive ourselves, we can forgive others. It’s through that laughter-driven perspective that we can start to see ourselves and our world differently.

Laughter is one of the most important tools we have in this life. In fact, I don’t understand why having more laughter in your life isn’t the #1 self-help goal. You never see it on the top ten lists. It’s always trumped by things like losing weight, getting healthy, reducing stress, or getting a raise or promotion. That’s ironic, given that laughter may be the key to achieving all those resolutions.

Want to lose weight? A study by Vanderbilt University Medical Center showed that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes burns between 10 and 40 calories.

Want to get healthy? Studies reveal that the increased oxygen that results from laughter can lower your blood pressure, boost your immune system, and improve your heart and lung function.

Want to reduce stress? The Mayo Clinic shares that laughter can stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, which can help reduce some physical symptoms of stress.

Want a raise or promotion? Laughter boosts creativity by tapping both left-brain and right-brain thinking. It builds bridges, highlights commonalities, and brings a bit of fun into one’s daily grind. If you take your job seriously and yourself lightly, new opportunities may unfold.

It may be hard to think about laughter while COVID numbers rage and our world seems mired in crisis, but this is when and where laughter shines brightest. To laugh in a place of pain is the most empowering thing we can do. It reminds us that we are not defined by our circumstances, nor will we be defeated by our difficulties. It reminds us of the power of inner joy. As the author Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote, “People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”

Think about how laughter has helped you to change your perspective. What difficult things in your life have faded in the face of a smile or a laugh? Where do you need laughter in your life right now?

While we hand-wring over death and taxes, remember that we have a third truth that can set us free. Change your heart by changing your perspective. Look your fears in the eye and laugh, knowing that in the end, hope, love, and joy will always win out.


Reposted from Susan's newsletter, Shiny Side Up! To connect with Susan, click here.


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