chasing answers newsletter #19
Laughing out loud
“Always laugh when you can; it is cheap medicine” - Lord Byron
Hello and welcome back!
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It's not often I really laugh out loud anymore. I'm not talking about a little chuckle or the fake laugh you give the checkout person at the grocery store when it's taking them an hour to bag your groceries, and you realize the incredibly long self-checkout line actually wouldn't have been that bad.
I'm talking about just laughing out loud as if you're in a room all by yourself, your mind void of all the bullshit you have to do and all the appointments on your calendar. That brief instance where you forget everything except what you are laughing at.
It's a small window that closes quickly, but while it's open, that breeze feels fucking amazing.
So amazing that science has shown that laughing benefits our mental and physical health in a myriad of ways.
The positive effects on mental health include reduced stress, improved self-esteem, and strengthened relationships.
I don't find this that surprising, but what I do find surprising is the physical benefits laughter can deliver. The Mayo Clinic lists several short and long-term benefits of laughter, many of which are actual physical improvements to your health.
Short-term benefits include stimulating your organs and soothing tension. It accomplishes these by increasing the amount of oxygen-rich air you take in, stimulating circulation, and aiding muscle relaxation.
Even better are the long-term effects. These include improving your immune system and relieving pain. It turns out positive thoughts can release neuropeptides that fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
So, it sounds like we could all use a little more laughter in our lives.
I've been making some changes in an attempt to accomplish just that. Since I don't watch much TV, never watch movies, and don't consume much content at all that would be considered entertainment, when I am laughing out loud, it's usually thanks to my daughter or my dogs.
But recently, I had a couple of instances where it wasn't the loves of my life responsible for that uncontrollable, howling roar emitting from my usually tight-lipped pie hole.
Sometime last year, to add some humor to the content I consume, I started listening to the podcast Smartless with Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett. Not every episode, just one here or there, mixed in between the usual informational podcasts I listen to. Something to give my mind a break from processing information. In case you haven't listened to them yet (which, by now, I feel like everyone has,) each week, they bring on a famous guest and basically shoot the shit with them. It is usually pretty entertaining, and some episodes go beyond that to outright hilarious.
Recently, I scrolled back through older episodes that took place before I began listening to see if there were any guests I had missed that I found intriguing. I came across an episode from last March featuring George Clooney, and goddamn, I'm glad I did.
Not only is this guy good-looking to a fault, successful beyond imagination, and ultra-wealthy, but he's also fucking hilarious. Multiple times during the episode, I found myself doubled over on my desk with laughter. You know, the kind where there is no sound coming out of your mouth because you can't catch your breath.
Here's the link to the episode on the Smartless home page. You can also check it out wherever you listen to podcasts.
Do yourself a favor; click the link, go to the 18:00 minute mark, and listen for about four and a half minutes. George is telling a story about taking a shit in his roommate's cat's litter box. You heard that right. I'm not going to say anymore because I can only ruin it. You'll have to listen to hear the whole story. You can thank me later.
One form of entertainment I have regularly consumed over the past few years is cartoons. And there is one that stands above all the others.
If you have young kids and aren't watching Bluey, you need to be. It might be the best cartoon I've ever watched. My daughter started watching it last year, and I was instantly on board. It's an Australian cartoon that is available on Disney+. It might be worth the subscription price even if it's the only thing you watch on the app.
The show revolves around a young dog named Bluey and her family. The episodes are short, seven to eight minutes, and each one has some moral lesson as the underlying theme. It's also pretty damn funny, even for adults. The other night, I was sitting on the couch with my daughter watching Bluey when an episode came on that neither one of us had seen. The episode's title is Faceytalk, and since you need a Disney+ subscription to watch, the best I can do is send you to the Bluey website, where you can watch a trailer of the episode.
A couple of minutes in, my daughter and I were both laughing out loud. Having a laugh-out-loud moment yourself is great. Hearing your child have one is even better. And having one together is as good as it gets. Bluey has provided several of those moments for my daughter and me, so I can't recommend it enough.
I do have one warning: be prepared for your kids to expect you to play a LOT of elaborate games with them. One of the show's themes is the creative games Bluey's parents (especially Bluey's dad, Bandit) play with Bluey and her sister Bingo. My daughter is constantly insisting on playing the game from the latest episode, and we've played them all; fairies, magic xylophone, keepy uppy, grannies, feather wand; these are all common terms in our house now. Everyone knows exactly what they mean and our roles for each. We've made a lot of great memories over the past year playing these silly little games, and we've laughed a lot while doing it.
I've always been dialed in on my health and have done what I thought I needed to maintain it, eat healthy, exercise consistently, and have regular check-ups.
Something I wasn't doing consistently was laughing. I didn't realize the positive benefits it could have, not just on our mental but physical health.
And I definitely did not think the missing piece in my health care regimen was listening to a famous actor describe taking a shit in a litter box or watching my daughter's favorite cartoon.
But I'll take it.
That’s all for now.
I hope you all have a great week!
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