“Whatever lifts the corners of your mouth
The Sufi poet and scholar Rumi said that.
Simple words. But crammed with delightful instruction and deep meaning.
You ask, does magic exist? I say, have you seen a smile? How it transforms a face? How a mere movement of muscles pours light upon a face and makes it radiant and beautiful?
Apart from the effulgence a smile imparts to a face, it works other magic too. When we smile neurotransmitters in our brain are activated, and release dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. This relaxes us, lowers our heart rates, relieves stress and elevates mood. In fact smiling is a natural drug that works as a mild pain killer too! It is said, that in times of stress even a fake smile can produce to some measure, some of the good effects of a genuine smile.
The point is not only does a smile light up the face of a smiling person, it beams out cheer to others present. There is nothing more disconcerting than having to be at the receiving end of sullen scowling faces, isn’t it?
And, what of laughter, the boisterous hearty kin of the smile. Aah it is on another level. A non- pharmaceutical tonic that can do wonders. Laughing from our gut is a joyful experience. It is like a soul-workout expressing itself outwardly in the laughs that animate the body. Laughter makes us feel so good! It makes us forget awhile all the worries and cares piled up in our minds. Files and files of worries..
This cliche is not a joke! Laughter is the best medicine – and the best natural workout too, as it stimulates many organs. It enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air and stimulates your heart and lungs. The generous dose of endorphins released by laughing relieves stress and elevates mood.
Norman Cousins, an American journalist and professor, used laughter therapy to cure himself of a debilitating illness. He developed his own treatment based on mood elevation through laughter. His experience is recorded in his famous book, Anatomy of an Illness (1979). Cousins said, “Hearty laughter is a good way to jog internally, without having to go outdoors.” That is good news for humanity stuck in lockdowns. By the way, Cousins overcame his illness and lived till 75 years of age!
The other day something happened which I found so funny, I burst out laughing. And it was such a hearty burst of laughter it released visibly loads of tension from my body. I could feel the knots of anxiety related to the current times of fear and uncertainty, that we are experiencing, loosening and my whole being lightening up. It felt so therapeutic! And the other thing I realized was that I hadn’t laughed like this in a long time.
So, rather than going here and there, let’s trust that spontaneous smile that crinkles our eyes and laughter that makes us rock from side to side, more, to create the well being we seek, in our troubled times.
It is not far from us. A child’s prattle, a pet’s antics, a funny book, the humorous pulling of each other’s legs, a comedy movie, the blossoming potted plant, a sweet poem, cute jokes, can all put a smile or laugh on our face. Maybe we should look to create more such simple yet rewarding moments in our lives..?