The banana peel sat underneath the kitchen counter that held our thanksgiving meal, and under the banana peel, was my father. Instead of our feared reaction my brother and I were relieved to hear a deep throated chuckle coming from our father’s mouth. As I Laughed my anger towards my newly stained thanksgiving gown began to diminish. My brother walked over picking up the banana peel and stated “sorry Dad, I had to see if it really worked, I didn’t think you would step on it.” To that my dad replied “I don’t care, but somebody better have been taping this, because I want my 10, 000 dollars from America’s Funniest Home Videos!”
My Anger had officially vanished.
With the slip of a peel, I realized for the first time a life lesson I would carry with me for life: I believe in the power of a laugh.
I’ve gone through rough periods in my life. Who hasn’t? What I have found is that life goes much smoother if you learn to laugh at it. For me, my loud, boisterous, annoying laugh has carried me through those rough spots, depression, anxiety, and death, giving me the strength to carry on, knowing the next joke is just around the bend.
Studies have shown laughter has several health benefits helping the terminally ill, and the clinically depressed. A simple laugh, something most of us take for granted, can help a cancer patient into remission. Loma Linda University doctor, Dr. Lee Berk’s, many years of research shows after exposure to humor the human immune system increases in activity, helping fight off infections and increasing the chance for recovery.
As we grow into adulthood, I wonder: Will we lose our sense of humor? To that question I give you my grandparents as the answer. They are two of the funniest people you’ll ever meet. They have all the class of Hepburn and Tracy, with the charm of Ball and Arnez. This country club couple has impeccable comedic timing. Birthdays are particularly humorous, like when my grandfather picked up the wrong birthday cake for my Dad’s fiftieth birthday, instead of “Happy Birthday Gregg” it said “Happy 5th Birthday Horatio” and was covered in mini plastic soccer players. My grandpa, the man that he is, said “well we had planned on naming you Horatio, and you played soccer for a month, so we thought it would be a nice blast from the past for your old age”
Whenever I’m feeling low and like the world is beating me down, I laugh. I think of all the times and memories I’ve had, the best of them have been spent laughing. I believe that indeed one banana peel, one music video, one phone call, one trip, one word, one hug, one movie, one person, if funny, has the incredible power to change our view on life, if not only for a brief moment, and give us the ability to enjoy the build up, before the punch line.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.