Laughter really is the best medicine

I went to see the exhibit on humor at the Visionary Arts Museum at the Inner Harbor. It celebrated both the “heights and depths” of humor – humor from the Bible to the bathroom. It’s not for everybody.

Some of the heights, however, were high. One statistic on humor is that science shows that a good belly laugh is the equivalent to 20 minutes of aerobic exercise. Another quote emphasized that those who make others laugh have the highest places in heaven. I’ve always believed that. I hope God agrees with me.

While in the bookstore I purchased one book titled: “Optimism.” It is a small, hardbound book, with beautiful pictures and illustrations with a quote on each page. I didn’t realize until I reached the end of the book that all the quotes were by Christian D. Larson. He wrote the words in 1912, and they were adopted in 1922 as the creed of Optimist International.

Since we profess our creed each Sunday, I thought it appropriate to share this creed on the almost 100th anniversary of their writing:

“Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything, and make your optimism come true.

To think only the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past, and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times, and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

Promise yourself!”

A lovely creed, isn’t it? What a challenge, but what a joy, if we lived it. Marriage Encounter reminds us that love is a decision. In truth, life is a decision. Each of us is not just living life. We are all creating our experience of life.

What would life be like if all of us, or even a majority of us, thought, worked for, and expected only the best? Instinctively, we all want the best for our children and young people. What if we all wanted the best for all of us? Wouldn’t there be less bickering and partisanship?

What if we could celebrate the success of others as our own success? We believe at the very least that we are all members of the family of God. Can’t we celebrate the success of a family member, rather than turning to envy or jealousy?

Suppose we could forget the mistakes of the past, and, instead of spending time in guilt and self-blame, we devoted our energies to doing great things for God in the future?

What if we could smile at every living creature? What if we could celebrate every living creature – from the worm to the smallest plant to the dog or cat as part of the infinite creative powers of an infinite God?

Finally, what would life be like it we spent so much time improving ourselves that we didn’t have time to criticize others? Mostly we criticize others because we never learned to really love ourselves. Suppose we learned to love ourselves so that we could learn to love others?

And what if we learned that laughter really was the best medicine because laughter is the only medicine that lightens every trouble and helps alleviate the pain of every disease? We dare to laugh because we believe with St. Paul that all things – all things – work together for good for those who love God.

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.