I believe in the power of laughter. I’ll never underestimate the ability of such a simple action to change someone’s outlook, to give them the positive lift they need in that dire moment. Not only do those upturned lips release endorphins that cause a sensation of well-being, they can also provide anyone with much needed relief.
I’ll never forget when I hit the lowest of lows. One of my close high school friends had just passed away, my relationships with my closest friends felt distant, my faith felt counterfeit, and school had never been so time-consuming. After wandering on a three hour walk on a brisk night, I happened upon a friend who was willing to talk with me. Not wanting to burden him with what I was feeling, I tried to make light of my situation, smiling and laughing at myself, and at the end of our conversation I will never forget what he said to me. “It’s amazing that you’re smiling and laughing. It’s so evident you got joy through suffering, man,” he said to me.
I had begun that prolonged night self-absorbed and pitying myself, but I ended it with a smile and a laugh. Not only that, my friend was encouraged and in better spirits because of it, too. Joy through suffering, as he put it. That’s a phrase that will linger in my thoughts forever. After hearing it in that light, I knew I wanted joy in my life. I wanted to be known as the supporter and encourager, the one people could always have a laugh with regardless of what they were going through. Laughter itself is a funny thing. Even when you don’t understand why people are laughing, it’s hard not to join in. And who wouldn’t want to? Laughter is contagious, and a smile brightens someone’s dark day.
I’m known by my closest friends for always smiling, always wanting to have a good time, and it’s easy to make me laugh now because I know it makes others happy. There’s nothing like going to bed with your sides aching, knowing your workout for that day has been trying to catch your breath from cracking up so many times. Laughter renews the spirit, gives you something to look forward to each day. It is a cure to the diseases of apathy, schoolwork, and boredom. We spend enough of our life sleeping—about one third of it—to waste time wallowing in self-absorption and pity, and after this late night encounter, I know I won’t. I won’t be the one that always needs to get out a funk; I will be something more. As Herman Melville put it in his novel about the great white whale, “I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.”