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finding wonder…everywhere.

RELAX :: a blog series :: three

on December 15, 2015

relax laugh

{Every Tuesday this month, we’re meeting here to pull apart the word RELAX. To lean into it. To learn ways we can practice it in a very real way. And what better time than the hectic holidays to get some rubber-meets-the-road experience with it?! I’m glad you’re here…it’s so much better to work through things like this in the company of kindreds like you. Ready for this third week? It’s a fun one. I promise.}

Let’s get really real with each other here for a minute, okay?
The first two letters of RELAX – the RELEASE and the EMBRACE – have the propensity to be pretty heavy. To feel a bit challenging. To stretch us in ways that leave us feeling a bit stiff and sore in the soul.
Or is that just me?

If it’s not just me, feeling all kinds of achy and arthritic after spending the last two weeks RELEASing and EMBRACing, and you’re ready for something a little lighter…a little more fun to lean into…you’re going to love what the L in RELAX stands for.

Once you’ve RELEASEd the things that are heavy and no longer serving you, and you’ve EMBRACEd all that’s going on around and inside of you, it’s time to LAUGH.

LAUGH at yourself.
LAUGH at whatever situation you find yourself in.
LAUGH to keep from crying on those days when that’s all that’s left.

LAUGHter.
Seems sort of easy on the face of it, right?
Or maybe a bit simplistic?
I hear you.
But, friend, this is where I want to take your face gently in my hands, get real close, and whisper that it’s often in the middle of the mess that the humor is hiding.

Get quiet for a minute.
And let that sink in..
Sit with it.
Hold hands with it like a long-lost friend, if it’s been too many days since you’ve let anything tickle your funny bone.

It’s true…
LAUGHter is a big part of RELAXing.
And it’s so worth it.
Even if we sometimes have to hunt for it.

I found myself doing some Humor Hunting of my own during the my year-long chemo regimen five years ago.
And I found it in DVR’d episodes of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Jimmy doesn’t do it for you?
That’s okay.
There’s lots of funny television to choose from, whether you watch network, cable, satellite, or a subscription service like Netflix or Hulu.
On the computer, you can head to YouTube and Facebook. (There are lots of cats videos on both, if you’re into that sort of thing.)
On your smartphone, you can use an app like Vine.
If you’re into Real Life (*wink), try your good friends.
What’s better than LAUGHing till you cry with sweet kindreds?

Wherever you search, make sure you find a reason to LAUGH as many times a day as possible.
Because there are Actual Physical Benefits that LAUGHter brings.
Physiological aspects that make LAUGHing a huge part of RELAXing.

According to MayoClinic.com, LAUGHter’s short-term benefits include:
     +Stimulation of many organs…LAUGHing enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air; stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles; and increases the endorphins released by your brain.
     +Activation and relief of the stress response…LAUGHter fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure, resulting in a good, relaxed feeling.
     +Tension soothing…When you LAUGH, your circulation is stimulated and your muscles RELAX, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

There are long-term effects of LAUGHter, too:
     +Improvement of the immune system…Positive thoughts (the kind that prompt LAUGHter) actually release neuropeptides that help you fight stress and, potentially, more serious illnesses. Unlike negative thoughts, which manifest into chemical reactions that can affect the body by bringing more stress in and decreasing immunity.
     +Pain relief…LAUGHing eases pain by causing your body to produce its own natural painkillers. It breaks the pain-spasm cycle that is common to some muscle disorders.
     +Increase in personal satisfaction…LAUGHter makes it easier to cope with difficult situations, and helps you foster connection with others.
     +Mood improvement…LAUGHing lessens depression and anxiety and makes you feel happier.

Yeah, maybe all these scientific reasons for LAUGHing don’t have you rolling on the floor, grabbing your sides, tears streaming down your face.
Me either, honestly.
But it seems that knowing all the good LAUGHter does can help us look for it when things feel heavy or dark or even hopeless.
Besides, I bet all my left-brain friends reading this just eat that stuff up, don’t you? *wink
I can sum all that science up – and even twist a phrase in the process – LAUGH. It does your body good.

One of my favorite authors, Holley Gerth, says, LAUGHter is our soul’s way of saying ‘I surrender to being human.’’ Isn’t that an awesome, lightness-of-being way to frame a good chuckle or guffaw?
I sure think so.

Last but definitely not least, I found the word LAUGH 38 times in the NIV version of the Bible.
You guys, it’s even in the book of Job a few times.
And, if you think you have a long list of good reasons not to LAUGH, I’d encourage you to compare your list with his. (**Spoiler alert: His list beats yours every time.**)

So this week, dear ones, as you continue to practice the RELEASE and EMBRACE parts of RELAXing, carve out some serious time to LAUGH.

LAUGH until your stomach hurts.
LAUGH until you pee your pants.
Then, once you’ve changed into something a little drier, see if you’re not just a little more RELAXed.

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One response to “RELAX :: a blog series :: three

  1. […] how we looked at what it means to RELEASE so that we can EMBRACE while we LAUGH at ourselves and ADJUST to this crazy thing called Life in order to breathe deep and EXHALE? (See […]

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