Laugh more – or at least, smile more

“Lola,” my 11-year-old grandson asked me one day recently, “why did you say I don’t laugh enough?”  A very astute question from a young boy. My surprise was, he remembered and mulled over my comment that was casually expressed in a conversation.  It was during one of his piano practice sessions when he heard me blurt out a short laugh upon hearing a movement in the music that evoked a vision of dancing bears – to be exact, fluffy bears stumbling and rolling over each other in awkward dance moves.

“What was so funny,” he quizzed me after his lesson.  “I just imagined dancing bears,” I think that was my retort.  “Wouldn’t that be funny?” I pressed.  “Not funny,” he shot back. I knew he was working hard at perfecting those music intervals (when he heard my stifled laugh).  All of this exchange on facetime, with a computer screen in between was even funnier to me.  It seemed I was on the hot seat just because I laughed.  So I laughed even more.  In my impulse to hug my grandson, I blew him a kiss.

“You don’t laugh enough,” I fondly teased.  Well, he remembered that comment weeks after.  This was my explanation to my darling grandson.

You see, I said, you just have to grab any opportunity to find humor in anything.  Life is serious enough.  At times, you need to lighten up and enjoy delightful moments.  It’s a way of recognizing and appreciating blessings that come in big and small measures.  Laughter is not all the same.  And yes, it can be bad if you’re using laughter to make fun of or ridicule someone.  Humor is different from ridicule, I tried hard to explain.  I continued, the laughter or smile evoked by humor or wit can be uplifting.  The laugh elicited by ridicule or insult is hurtful and bad, I emphasized.  It’s the attitude and motive behind the laughter that matter.

My grandson was all big eyes as he watched me on the computer screen, and I noticed him visibly digesting whatever I said.  He was quiet and contemplative, and I saw a subtle nod of his head and heard a slight “hmmm”.  I think he understood.  A simple didactic opportunity triggered by a thoughtful question from a young inquisitive mind.

The next time we facetimed, he showed me the lego complex he put together that day, a very imposing sci-fi building in front of what I thought was a huge spaceship.  Again, I laughed, because what I thought was a building was the spaceship, and what I thought was the spaceship was the space station, a complete reverse.  He looked at me, perhaps deciding whether to laugh with me or not – but I caught a smile.  Or maybe he smiled, seeing that his Lola doesn’t understand all these modern lego constructions evolved from modeled ideas – not in step with lego games.  But that’s okay – he smiled, and I laughed.

You see, laughter is good – I told my grandson.  It makes you enjoy more; it helps you to take pleasure in random delights.  In fact, I said, laughter is the best medicine according to studies, observations and reports.  It’s more than a cliché which I choose to adhere to, I told him.   He said acceptingly, “Uhuh”.

I related to a Japanese friend this episode with my grandson.  I mentioned that I recall a party at my home before the shelter-in, where the gathering was pleasantly boisterous with jokes and funny stories.  Most were enjoying the repartee and joyful teasing – all but her, who was looking serious though amused.  So, I asked why she didn’t join in the laughter.  She replied that in her culture, freely showing emotions is not the norm.  Of course, I don’t understand the nuances of her culture, but I respect that.  Lately, however, I catch her emoting some laughter when the situation is funny, or when someone tells a clever joke.  A small change, or maybe a big one, but a healthy and good one.

So, my readers – try to laugh more — laughter that flows from wit, humor, delight, a cheerful disposition and a grateful and positive outlook of life.  Good laughter is a gift from God.

And if you can’t laugh enough – at least, smile more.

Linda P. Jacob