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I feel great today. Yes, I slept like a baby last night, and today is beautiful and sunny. Yes, the days are getting longer, harkening spring, and this morning I opened my back door and inhaled the fresh scent of pine woods. Yes, I have a lovely arrangement of purple lavender and periwinkle flowers on my breakfast table, but none of these things are why I feel great. 

Today, I feel refreshed, renewed, relaxed, and re-energized, but why?

Because last night, I laughed … and laughed … and laughed. The kind of laughter where tears pour down your cheeks, and you can’t catch your breath; when you get a side ache, and throw your head back, gasping for air. Last night I spent the evening with four, dear women friends. We celebrated my birthday a day late. I see these women often, and we always have a good time together, but last night was different. There was magic in the air. 

We told stories. And Laughed. Told more stories. Laughed even harder.

I cherish close friends. The kinds of friends in whom you can confide. Friends you can rely on to be honest and trustworthy, who will tell you when they think you’re off course. Friends who have known you for a long time and still love you when you show your flaws. 

When I woke up this morning, I felt happy for no apparent reason, or so I thought. Just because. But curiosity prevailed, so I looked it up. 

The Mayo Clinic has a page entitled “Stress Relief From Laughter? It’s No Joke,” detailing the psychological and physical benefits of laughter. It explains how laughter stimulates our organs, and by intaking oxygen-rich air and stimulating our heart, lungs, and muscles, we increase the release of endorphins. Who doesn’t love the rush of endorphins? Bring ‘em on! The website clarifies how laughter triggers changes in our heart rate and blood pressure, resulting in a calm relaxed feeling. It describes how laughter increases circulation and stimulates muscle relaxation.

Ah-ha! Now I see. It’s no mistake that I feel great today. 

My body experienced positive, physiological chemical changes. Last night was a chill fest, and I’m healthier for it. I have to remember this restorative elixir the next time I’m under the gun, stressed, uptight, burned-out, losing it, or burning the candle at both ends.

Laughter… the medicinal tonic.

Give it a try. Let yourself go. Be young at heart and laugh out loud. See what happens. Imagine if we could inspire everyone to laugh more. Might we have a world filled with joy instead of hate, or a world where cooperation supersedes division? Might we reduce depression and anxiety by putting our cell phones in our back pockets and seeking the company of friends and neighbors more often? Perhaps we would awaken our hearts to happiness and compassion.

What do you think? What would be different if we all laughed more? 

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