Laugh your a*s off!

July 6, 2016

laugh“How do you stay so upbeat and happy?” a friend asked the other day after she and I shared a laugh. “You’re the happiest person I know!”

Well, here’s the truth. I’ve always been this way, pretty much. I see the hilarity in most situations and have never had a significant depression except after my mother died. I’m pretty sure that I’ve been blessed with an abundance of natural serotonin, and that’s just my baseline. Add to that my love of life–every bit of it, the ups, the downs and it betweens. It’s hard for me to stay down for any period of time– I lose patience with myself and am driven to get on with the business of living out loud, to quote Zola.

That’s not to say I’m sane.

I consider myself a neurotic optimist.

Happiness is also a matter of having a sense of who you are and accepting it–the good and the not-so-good. None of us is perfect. And, of course, if you can laugh at yourself, which I do, often, all the better. I just can’t take most things, including myself, seriously, and I blame my parents for that.  You can say a lot of things about my parents, and believe me, I’ve said them all, especially when I was younger. But they were two of the least pretentious people in the world. That’s one trait that I hope I have carried on.

There’s not much in this world so serious that it’s above finding humor in one reason or another, and laughing, even if it’s a rueful laugh. My friends know I’m not a big fan of sacred cows–I like to say I eat them for lunch–but really, what I do is laugh at them.

A laugh is good medicine

The benefits of laughter are many –it really is the best pain medicine, as Norman Cousins proved with an effective pain management and treatment regimen that included watching hilarious comedies and laughing his a*ss off. Here’s what happened:

Told in 1964 that that he had only a few months to live, Cousins devised his own recovery program using his lifelong positive attitude as his baseline. He had always been an optimist, well-known for his kindness  and his robust love of life itself. “I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep,” he reported. After that, he’d start watching comedies again, for more pain relief. He died in 1990, 26 years later.

He was on to something earlier than most. Today we know that laughter floods our bodies with endorphins that can relieve pain. It also decreases stress, improves immune function and helps provide resistance to disease.

And I do think that a big dose of healthy laughter keeps us sane. And who knows that better than Jimmy Buffett who captured my life’s motto in: “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.”

“Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes”

I took off for a weekend last month
Just to try and recall the whole year.
All of the faces and all of the places,
wonderin’ where they all disappeared.
I didn’t ponder the question too long;
I was hungry and went out for a bite.
Ran into a chum with a bottle of rum,
and we wound up drinkin’ all night.

It’s those changes in latitudes,
changes in attitudes nothing remains quite the same.
With all of our running and all of our cunning,
If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.

These changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes,
Nothing remains quite the same.
Through all of the islands and all of the highlands,
If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane

Reading departure signs in some big airport
Reminds me of the places I’ve been.
Visions of good times that brought so much pleasure
Makes me want to go back again.
If it suddenly ended tomorrow,
I could somehow adjust to the fall.
Good times and riches and son of a bitches,
I’ve seen more than I can recall


I think about Paris when I’m high on red wine,
I wish I could jump on a plane.
And so many nights I just dream of the ocean.
God, I wish I was sailin’ again.
Oh, yesterdays are over my shoulder,
So I can’t look back for too long.
There’s just too much to see waiting in front of me,
and I know that I just can’t go wrong
with these…

37 comments on “Laugh your a*s off!
  1. Leanne says:

    I envy you your natural confidence and upbeat personality Carol! I’m pretty “up” most of the time but I have let criticism or the “poor me” syndrome win at times. Fortunately midlife (plus all you fabulous blogging buddies) is teaching me that I am at a pretty fabulous stage and I am not wasting any more time beating myself up. If we ever meet up we’ll definitely have a laugh together x

  2. GiGi Eats says:

    Oh you don’t have to ask me to laugh my ass off – I do it all day every day! 😉

  3. Damyanti says:

    Laughter, the best medicine.

  4. Cori says:

    Buffet knows what he’s talking about. I’ve also started to try to stop letting things that I have no control over (people’s reactions) affect me. I know that’s cliche, but I need to.

  5. I’ve always been an optimist and a champion laugher. People who see the funny in things are so much more fun to be around.

  6. Roz Warren says:

    I, too, am upbeat by nature, which is probably why I became a humor writer. It has oddly given me a lot of sympathy for people who suffer with depression, since it’s made me realize how little control we have over our default state-of-mind.

  7. Jay Colby says:

    Laughter is best medicine!

  8. Renee says:

    I really do believe in the power of positivity an, of course, laughter. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you will just be upset at everyone laughing at you. However, if you can laugh at yourself you will see the joy in life.

  9. Diane says:

    I ABSOLUTELY agree with this! Laughter keeps us sane. And healthy! Love this, Carol!

  10. Well Jimmy Buffet is just fun in general. Saw him in concert last year. What would we do without laughter. We just got back from a cruise with friends of 30 years. We laughed SO MUCH and it was good.

  11. Barbara says:

    I always look for the funny because that’s where the FUN is! A solid sense of humor will take you far and, learning to laugh at ourselves is the best medicine. Love Mr. Buffett, too!
    Now I have to pull him up on the ipod!

  12. Haralee says:

    I find people who can not laugh at themselves, very boring, very boring and very boring!

  13. A good reminder not to take life so seriously!

  14. I wasn’t always the most upbeat person but a few years ago I decided I was definitely going to start looking on the bright side of everything. Laughing truly is the best medicine and without it I probably would be much crazier than I am:)

  15. Lisa Froman says:

    I love to be around people who make me laugh! Lately, I have been feeling less like laughing and more like crying because I have been feeling so much of the collective energy out there. I have to keep reminding myself that is all an inside job in the end, though. Working on it….and thanks for the good cheer! Always welcome!

  16. My husband is like that…always in a good mood and always laughing. I seem to recall his grandfather was the same.

  17. cheryl says:

    Work with preschool kiddos…I have a few belly laughs during the day, that’s for sure!

  18. Laurie Stone says:

    They say laughter helps our immune system and I believe it. Thanks Carol, for this joyful reminder.

  19. I’m also a pretty upbeat and positive person – although this election season is definitely testing me.

  20. Alana says:

    I have a totally different personality (tend towards pessimism and don’t always see the humor in life), but a good belly laugh is truly the best medicine.

  21. Jennifer says:

    If I don’t laugh several times in a day, then it wasn’t a good day. I love to laugh and will usually find the absurd in any given moment. My mother is 96 years old and swears that laughing with her friends is what kept her around so long.

  22. Elizabeth O. says:

    I love your positive mindset, that’s what everyone needs! We will always have issues, problems, challenges, whatever you call them, they are part of life and instead of dwelling in them why not just look at them in a more positive light. You’ll definitely solve those issues easier because you’re not clouded with negative emotions. Beside being so negative is toxic, why waste energy being that person, right?

  23. Cait says:

    Great post, as per usual. I love that you called yourself a neurotic optimist! We all need to learn to enjoy life a little more & laugh at the things we can’t change.

    – Cait |

  24. This was fun and wise words from Jimmy haha. I will be in a dark place and just make myself think of something or what a video I love or a episode of the Office and just laugh.

  25. Great post! And that grammar geek in me loves how you said, “None of us is perfect.” No one ever gets that one right. You’re smart and you have a sense of humor 🙂

  26. Ryan Escat says:

    It is nice to laugh and be in good mood all the time. I always tell my wife about it.

  27. Seeing the absurdity in things is the only way to stay sane! And we who can laugh at ourselves will never cease to be amused…another great post, Carol!

  28. Courtneylynne says:

    I’ve been a happy person my whole life! I’m always the one trying to make
    People laugh when they are feeling in the dumps

  29. Parul Thakur says:

    It’s the best thin ever to stay positive. I try and it works for me. I also laugh quite a lot so I know what you mean about how it helps the entire personality of a person. Great post.

  30. Sandy says:

    Love the song. We need to keep laughter in our lives. Its easier to smile than to frown. Takes the least amount of muscles.

  31. Linda Hobden says:

    I’m an annoying optimist & the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams applies to me. Laughter makes you feel better and is a fab pick me up too! ????????

  32. So you know how pregnant women have a tendency to break down crying for seemingly no reason? I was the opposite. With both pregnancies I would crack up laughing at the littlest thing, to the point where I would end up crying (tears of joy). My husband thought I was nuts for sure 🙂

  33. Liz Jo says:

    I try to be optimistic but I’m far more of a half glass empty 🙁 But I’m working on it!

    Thanks for linking up with Welcome Home Wednesdays! Live every Wednesday at 7AM CT.

    liz @ j for joiner

  34. Anna Palmer says:

    Yes yes yes:

    I consider myself a neurotic optimist

    I’m going to borrow that. Once my glass is half full.

  35. Elda says:

    SO many people comment on the Ellen Degeneres show how much laughing to her show has helped them go through either serious physical set backs or difficult personal situations.

    Although I am a very optimistic person who sees the silver lining in most situations, I have a hard time seeing the ‘funny’ in it. This is something I have been striving to improve upon. Thanks for the reminder and for the song I had forgotten about!

  36. Laughter is indeed wonderful medicine – and there’s nothing more delightful than navigating through our days with happy hearts. Your post is a great reminder! Wishing you endless laughter.

  37. This post reminded me of meeting a massage therapist a few years back in an art seminar and she led laughter sessions on the square in Decatur, Ga. I had forgotten that, so I googled it and found a monthly free laughing yoga hour that I’m going to check out. I’ve always been pretty quick to laugh, but I became my mom’s caregiver and that is tough, so I’m going to check this out!

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