Bargell: Laughing our way to world peace
March 19, 2014
A rash of books and messages exist that encourage us to envision our future, and to then sit back and see our heart’s desires manifested.
It wasn’t until recently, however, that I encountered an individual whose life was profoundly impacted after intent focus on a specific vision, with tangible results actually materializing. My friend’s story was captivating, although my real takeaway from the conversation was thinking about what I might set my sights on, and why. My friend agreed, explaining that she learned nearly as much from considering these questions as she did from having the answers appear.
While her story was intriguing, initially I shrugged it off as not for me. Time is far too short to take up a new challenge to expand my horizons. Twenty minutes of meditation to inner calm seems more like a millennium. Even five minutes to a cleaner kitchen, or two minutes to thinner thighs I pass on as far too time consuming. Of course, my attention span is the real culprit, as both my kitchen and thighs can attest. I therefore reconsidered my friend’s advice because the time required was all too perfect. The exercise required only a spare 17 seconds to focus, something anyone could handle, or at least I hoped.
Next, the vision. I gave some thought to how one envisions peace, whether for the world generally, or merely to make it through a Monday morning, but nothing came readily to mind. Envisioning our daughters’ rooms as clean seemed less lofty, but nearly as formidable as world peace. Then, after waking up to yet another snowy morning, it hit me that I would do well to spend 17 seconds envisioning laughter. In my mind’s eye I saw our family gathered together sharing a genuine belly laugh. The kind that infects an entire room, escalates into tears and gasps for breath, punctuated by a few, often indelicate, snorts.
And so it happened. The following evening we set out together to take in some hoops at our local high school. Not just any game of b-ball, but one that pitted the Harlem Ambassadors against our very own Summit County Superheroes. We watched the Ambassadors play a few years ago, and I vaguely recalled their high jinks. The entire affair was for a good cause — the Summit High School Interact Club, where an impressive number of our high school students have put into practice their vision of community service.
The evening was a manifestation of my 17 seconds of thought earlier in the day. While the visiting team put together an impressive array of comedic antics, I was more impressed with the Summit County Superheroes, a collection of teachers and local celebrities who could dribble and shoot (or run and dance as needed), and their willingness to put themselves out there in order to fill the gym with laughter. In front of a group of high schoolers no less, a group that might be considered a tough crowd to please. The evening was a reminder there is intrinsic value in laughter, even at oneself, and perhaps especially when we invite others to join in. The high school kids led the hoots and hollers that pierced the air — just as I envisioned. As the evening wound down I did wonder how the breakdancing math teacher might fare the next day, and hoped he knew the audience appreciated his talent, which can be described as nothing less than hysterical.
Research confirms a good dose of laughter can lower blood pressure, increase blood flow, work out those abs (alas, not the thighs) and reduce certain stress hormones. A hearty and frequent chuckle can even fight against respiratory infections. Next year a trip to see the game should be a prescription all local docs write.
Much later, it occurred to me that perhaps the difficulty I had visioning peace was because I was trying to see a final destination, and didn’t realize that it’s the little things along the road, laughter included, that pave the way on this journey. What a relief, too, that next time I envision a clean room I can recognize it for its true value, the chance for a hearty chuckle.
Cindy Bargell welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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