“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”

That Proverb poetry branded itself in my spirit. I’ve always loved a good laugh, whether a chuckle or a guffaw.

According to the latest edition of the AARP magazine, “Laughing can give your immune system a temporary boost, ease pain, relax arteries and offer your torso a mini-workout.” Ha, my kind of workout.

The article goes on to suggest you try clapping along while you chant, “HO HO HO, HA HA,HA.” Or try laughter yoga. Or comic movies.

Or if you have a baby nearby, you could try this:

We laugh with Lydia every day. Multiple times.

Daughter Kate asked, “Why didn’t anyone tell me how funny babies are?”

Maybe before baby she was just too busy laughing at her cat Sargent Pepper. Or her cat Pronoun.

Restaurant shenanigans.

Restaurant shenanigans.

Life is full of stress. Much of that stress dissipates when we laugh.

I’m so grateful to Lydia for helping us enter totally into her world and laugh along with her, letting go of all that feels hard or impossible for a moment.

I hope we can help Lydia keep laughing, from the time she first recognizes herself in the mirror to her first “knock-knock” jokes and beyond. Maybe she’ll enjoy watching grannynanny videos some day as much as her cousin Owen, now six years old, enjoys seeing this video:

How do you find laughter in your life? What feeds your heart’s merriment?

Shirley Showalter

21 Comments

  1. Marian Beaman on September 25, 2017 at 9:29 am

    You show that grandchildren are mini-packages of joy. I’ve been following Lydia’s coos and squeals on Instagram. Now she’s trying motor noises which Owen perfected. When my own grandkids were younger, we blew on their bellies – instant guffaws!

    A shimmering image from childhood remains lodged in memory: Grandma and Ruthie Longenecker laughing so hard at supper, they nearly fell off their chairs. As I recall, knee-slappeing was involved too. I viewed this scene from the sitting room, so I never knew what they were laughing about. A pity!

    High on the list of what attracted me to my husband is his ability to make me laugh. Still does! Thanks for this bit of Monday morning merriment.

    • Shirley Showalter on September 25, 2017 at 10:55 am

      Monday morning merriment was something I was thinking of when I was searching for a title, Marian. We have an almost eerie way of thinking in tandem. You probably saw both of these videos in other places, but maybe you don’t mind seeing them again. I confess that I love clicking to see these few seconds of fleeting smiles and coos and all-out laughter. Whenever I travel or don’t see Lydia for a few days, I go back to these.

      And my husband makes me laugh, too. Not only is laughter medicine. It’s also a good glue for relationships.

      I remember a few times when I was part of knee-slapping, tears-producing eruptions of laughter. One is with our small group as Joel Kauffmann told a story about looking for a product called Elbow Grease after he was told to use it. Joel died suddenly and tragically a few years ago. Whenever I think of him, I think of laughter.

  2. Joan on September 25, 2017 at 11:23 am

    Laughing is one of the most important parts of any day! If you quit finding humor in the world around you, your in deep, dark trouble!!

    • Shirley Showalter on September 25, 2017 at 2:45 pm

      Amen, Joan. I hope you have some videos of your sweet Sam to help you smile through your tears of having to say good-bye. Bless you and Bill.

  3. Rachel MIller on September 25, 2017 at 11:41 am

    Love seeing these pictures. Babies and kids are the best for making us laugh! Just yesterday, at the end of a busy day with Maceo, while we were waiting to meet up with his Daddy and Uncle Aaron, I turned on the TV to help pass the last 15 minutes. Up popped kids movies, one called, Captain Underpants, based on the books of that title. We watched the preview 3 times, heads thrown back, laughing hysterically.

    A few minutes later, we were on 5th, Ave and 1St street, looking up and I said, “Oh, look, Captain Underpants on the building!” There we stood, both of us, heads back, laughing like crazy and people were laughing and smiling with us.

    It is good medicine.

    • Shirley Showalter on September 25, 2017 at 2:51 pm

      Is this the trailer you watched, Rachel? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDm_2m-Hg6c

      I love to watch good movies with kids who are at just the right ages to “get” most of the jokes and physical humor. Thanks for sharing this vivid story. Hope you gave someone else a laugh or an idea for their next kid adventure.

  4. Audrey Denecke on September 25, 2017 at 11:46 am

    Babies do seem to be filled with joy or jublication! I love the way he was discovering himself in the mirror, checking out his hand and fingers!Definitely, a wonderful perk to hear his gurgles and little laughs.
    I too have a new little one in our family circle. My niece and her husband adopted a new little baby girl, Georgia. I saw her at a family wedding shower this month. Here’s a photo (hope the link works) of little Georgia (born a preemie and her smile. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10214712011182342&set=a.3698939640509.171511.1485933461&type=3

    • Shirley Showalter on September 25, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      Hi Audrey,

      I wasn’t able to open the link to see a picture of Georgia, but I am sure she is beautiful. What a wonderful way to help a vulnerable child enter the world. Hope you and Georgia have many good times together. Parents can use all the “aunties” and “grannies” they can get!

  5. Laurie Buchanan on September 25, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    Shirley — The video clips are wonderful. And Kate’s expression in the “restaurant shenanigans” is contagious for laughter!

    Our dog, Willa, makes me laugh on a daily basis. Hiding under those whiskers are a myriad of facial expressions that spark invisible cartoon bubbles above her head where I fill in the blank of what she’s thinking.

    • Shirley Showalter on September 25, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      I’ve enjoyed following the journeys and reflections you have with Willa, Laurie. I think animals often play the role of comedienne for the humans in their lives. You have inspired me with your imaginative use of your merry heart many times!

  6. Hope Wester on September 25, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    Try humming also! Humming has scientific research to back it up that says it reduces the stress level. I hum a tune every chance I get!

    • Shirley Showalter on September 25, 2017 at 9:01 pm

      You made me laugh, Hope. My Mother is a champion hummer, and I seem to have the same inclination. I’ll have to tell her she is reducing stress. She’ll get a kick out of that idea and will certainly agree with it!

  7. Kathleen Pooler on September 25, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    Oh this is wonderful, Shirley–the photos, videos and the message. Laughter truly is the best medicine, especially the knee-slapping, breath-taking kind. It’s a welcome antidote to our angst-ridden world. And there’s nothing like a baby to add to the joy. Thank you for this delightful post. Clearly, you are in your happy place.?

    • Shirley Showalter on September 25, 2017 at 9:24 pm

      Kathy, thanks so much for joining me in my happy place. And thanks for acknowledging the high anxiety in the world today. We are all carrying more than we know. Laughter helps!

  8. Shirley Showalter on September 25, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    From Elfrieda Schroeder: I have 4 sisters and we are known to break into uncontrollable laughter. The same thing happens with my three daughters, and it’s amazing how I just feel tension ebbing away from me. I have been known to break into this kind of laughter at inappropriate places, much to the chagrin of some members of my family. When the church bench starts to shake, it isn’t funny any more!
    The laughter of babies and little children is a thing of beauty. Thank you for sharing it!

    • Shirley Showalter on September 26, 2017 at 2:44 pm

      Elfrieda, I have the same problem. I shook the pews once too one time, despite my best effort to keep the laughter inside. Losing control is great when sitting at the kitchen table. Less good in formal, public spaces. But maybe good for a laugh again anyway. 🙂

  9. CS on September 25, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    Love the video of Lydia!

  10. susan scott on September 26, 2017 at 8:20 am

    Too dear for words Shirley – I am smiling, I simply can’t help it!
    There’ve been times that have left me crying because of laughing so much – it’s a pretty wonderful feeling. My younger (adult) son can make such clever puns that can have me in tears even over the telephone wires … and his FB posts are pretty funny too.

    • Shirley Showalter on September 26, 2017 at 2:29 pm

      Susan, so glad you enjoyed and that you too have laughed until you cried.

      I envy those to whom humor seems to come naturally. I’m a great appreciator of comedy but only think of really funny things to say or do occasionally. Some people have a gift for seeing life slant. I love FB posts like that! Your son must have gotten some of his gift from you!

  11. June on September 27, 2017 at 11:47 pm

    There is some dutch in your and your grandchildren’s blood to roll their tongues like that. So much fun, to gain such wonderful expressions and glee. This kind of happiness embeds itself in the soul. You can carry it everywhere. When you need a lift, you just have to recall in your memories, these giggles, coos, and smiles to bring a smile upon your own face.

  12. Elaine Mansfield on October 2, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    I love your videos, Shirley. Thank you for sharing your joy. I’m finding joy raising Monarch butterflies I collected as 3/8 inch caterpillars on milkweed plants. I fed them a fresh daily supply of milkweed leaves, watched as they made pupae, read about Monarch lives, migrations, and how to help them survive while I waited almost 2 weeks for each butterfly to emerge. I knew a little about Monarchs, but now I know I missed my calling as an entomologist. I’m in love with bugs. It’s not the same as laughter and not the same as babies, but it makes me happy. Living alone and without clear hearing, there are fewer funny stories told and I miss the jokes that fly by. I still find plenty to smile about. On this day of national mourning, I’m grateful for my flamboyant butterflies, their beauty and their magic transformation tricks.

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