Susan Sparks column: ‘Someday we’ll laugh about this’
Columns share an author’s personal perspective.
While Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s Day are great, my favorite holiday is actually this week. Why? Because Jan. 2-8 is “Someday We’ll Laugh About This Week!”
Yes, boys and girls, it’s a real holiday. It’s also good advice.
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 in that laughter-driven perspective that we 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 No. 1 New Year’s resolution. 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 constant 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. The philosopher Albert Camus wrote, “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer ... no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger - something better, pushing right back.”
Think about how laughter has helped you to push back. What things in your past are you now able to laugh about in reflection?
Did you ever think that would happen at the time?
Where do you need laughter in your life now?
I say we redraft our New Year’s resolution list and add laughter as the No. 1 entry. Take control of your life, your mind and your heart by opening up to more joy. Let’s celebrate “Someday We’ll Laugh About This Week” ... and let’s start by laughing about it today.
A trial lawyer turned stand-up comedian, and Baptist minister, Rev. Susan Sparks is the senior pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City. A nationally known speaker and preacher, she is the author of three books, including her newest, “Miracle on 31st Street: Christmas Cheer Every Day of the Year – Grinch to Gratitude in 26 Days!” Contact her through her email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or her website, www.SusanSparks.com.