Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Laughter and Mental Health

     I  just got back from a much-needed trip. Like typical Americans, my son and I didn't rest by a pool, but crammed as much as we could into the week we could. There was too much to see, to much to absorb to sit around relaxing. I can read a book and lounge on the couch anytime. (okay not by a pool in a tropical setting, but you get my drift) . And you know what? It was restful. We were satisfied and relaxed every day. We slept great.
    There is something to be said to seeing new and beautiful sights. The change of scenery alone gets your adrenaline going and beauty is healthful. Stimulating your senses give you new outlook on things.
    It doesn't hurt if you have a host like I did, who took a week off to ensure I got to all the stuff on my exhaustive itinerary and provide adult companionship along the way. He provided a safe place to explore a new place. And laughter! Let's not discount the medicinal qualities of laughter. Why is that you laugh harder, get sillier, with people who knew you as a kid?
     Len is my cousin and someone I haven't seen for 15 years and haven't spent a good block of time since we were very little. But Len and I have that rare relationship of picking up where we left off. Or rather, starting all over, but from a base of really knowing the other person.
    How can that be? How can somebody who hasn't talked to seen much of you or even know the most basic fundamentals of your life really know you? I think it's just that early on, we knew that essence that made us, well, us. Regardless of what Len does for a living, who he's in love with, whatever habits he has picked up--he's still Lenny. And I am still Chrissy regardless of what my mood  or situation happens to be or what strategy I'm deploying to tackle my challenges.
    Travel isn't practical for many people, I know. Some, like me, have financial challenges or family obligations. But I think its imperative to strive to get those three fundamentals that make a vacation, a vacation incorporated into your life  somehow: a change of scenery; beauty  and laughter.
    You don't have to go to southern California for a beauty and a change of scenery. You can go to a local art museum or gallery. Or walk through a park that's new to you. I know for some people who complain that they work so much they just want to spend time at home. I understand, but every now and then it's important to get out of our comfort zones and gain a new perspective by experiencing someplace new and different. Without that we become stale.
    I don't have to go across the country to laugh of course. But it was a learning experience.  My son kept asking Len and I to tell him stories about our times together as a kid. At first I thought he was interested in family history and then it occurred to me that he enjoyed hearing me laugh. And I sadly realized that I don't laugh much at home. I enjoy things deeply, I smile with him a lot and joke around. But that deep, sincere belly laugh is rare to me, and a rare sound to him. I have a lot of challenges, I know. But I can't use that as an excuse, I can't say, "there's nothing to laugh about." 
    So that is my quest  for this spring; to lighten up and see the absurdity and humor in situations. Like how I'm assigning myself laughter. Now that's funny.

1 comment:

  1. So happy you had such a much-needed vacation. And laughter truly is the best medicine. We can never forget that our children need to see us happy and laughing to learn how to find the joy in the everyday. Thanks for sharing your trip. Can't wait to escape next month!