Can you remember the last time you had a thoroughly hearty belly laugh? You
know, the kind that has you laughing so hard you feel as if your sides could
split? Maybe glimpses of these moments are stored in the archives of your
memory bank and thats where they stay. Perhaps your life has become so serious
that youve actually forgotten how to laugh or sadly, you look at the world
around us and just dont find much to laugh at. In fact, you may even believe
that laughter is frivolous and for those of lightweight character.
If this sounds like you, then think again, because there is nothing shallow
about laughter. Laughter may be the single most important ingredient to a
healthy life, on many levels. Just ask Dr. Norman Cousins who discusses in his
book, The Anatomy of an Illness how he laughed his way back to health
after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Numerous medical studies indicate
that laughter and joy boost the immune system and are essential to emotional and
mental well being.
In a sicha from Shabbos parshas Ki Seitzei 5748, the
Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, tells us, Simcha breaks
through all barriers, including the barriers of exile and has the unique
potential to bring about the Redemption. This joy will surely lead to the
ultimate joy, the rejoicing of the Redemption, when our mouths will be filled
with laughter (Psalms 126:2). The question is: how do we generate more
joy in our lives and break through barriers?
Lets take a closer look at the nature of laughter. For infants and children,
laughter is an organic, universal response to the sheer joy of being alive. Just
watch an infant cooing and giggling spontaneously in the crib. What is a
birthright for youngsters requires a far more sophisticated trigger mechanism in
adults. An examination of laughter shows that what causes us to laugh is an
improbable juxtaposition of opposites. When a process moves in one direction and
then suddenly and unexpectedly changes to its opposite, laughter is generated.
Its this SURPRISE element that comedians use all the time as one of many
techniques to generate audience laughter.
On an even deeper level, the juxtaposition of extremes is the root of
spiritual laughter and is the meaning of Az yemalei schok pinu
then our mouths will be filled with laughter. When the world is turned
upside-down at the Redemption, the true or spiritual laughter will be the
cosmic response to real change. We somehow sense that this is not as things are
supposed to be and the deepest response to that will be laughter.
These ideas of Redemption, or geulah apply to our own personal
lives. We need to break all of our personal barriers that keep us stuck in old
limiting patterns. As an improvisational comedy actress I recognized that at the
heart of comedy improv lie skills for more joyful, elevated living: the art of
taking risks, allowing for possibilities to open up in your life, the belief in
transcendent assistance and getting out of your own way. Comedy requires a
spirit of fun that insists a person come out of themselves, breaking barriers
and inviting more joy and possibility into life. Where there is less of you,
then theres more room for Hashem! Reclaim your G-dly state of sheer joy,
sidesplitting laughter and plain ole fun!