When a black mood of gloom and despair creeps over you, the simplest way to ward it off is to laugh. Laughter is contagious. If someone beside you laughs, you find it difficult to suppress laughter.
There is a man who has pinned to his wall, pictures of men and women and children laughing heartily. Whenever he feels sad or depressed, he has but to take a look at the pictures on the wall: he cannot help but smile, and feel immediately better.
Laugh to heal
Laughter is medicine. It helps in building our moral muscles. It is a spiritual tonic. It has great cleansing power. When you feel sad or downcast, look at your face in a mirror—it looks so tense, so unlike the face you would wish others to see. The strain on your face is due to some negative emotion that is playing havoc in your mind. One way of breaking the force of the negative emotion is to relax.
Relax the whole body. And as you do so, you will find that the last part of the body to relax is the face. So smile and laugh. And see how quickly the clouds vanish and you are happy again!
I read of a man who rendered immense service to sufferers in a hospital. All he had with himself was an album of pictures of laughing people taken from discarded newspapers and magazines. With this album he used to visit patients in the throes of physical agony. At the sight of the pictures, they burst into laughter, forgetting their physical ailments for a while and feeling much better. "I love and I laugh!"—these five simple words sum up the secret of this remarkable man.
How many of us can truthfully say that we love and we laugh? Do we love all—men and birds and animals? It is easy to love our friends. But do we love them that bear ill will towards us? It is easy to love our kith and kin, our dear and near ones. Do we love strangers? It is easy to love those who praise us. Do we love those who condemn and speak ill of us? It is easy to love those who help us.
Do we love them who spitefully use us or exploit us to selfish ends? It is easy to love the rich, the wealthy, and those in authority. Do we love the poor and lonely, the forsaken and forlorn? It is easy to love the good and virtuous. Do we love the sinner, the criminal, the thief and the robber? Do we love those who have gone astray and those whom our laws—just and unjust—have made prisoners?
Do we love birds and animals who—alas—each day are driven to the slaughter-house to satisfy our crapulence and edacity? Do we love trees and plants, leaves and flowers and blades of grass? Do we love rivers and seas, hills and mountains, stones and stars? Do we love each grain of sand, each ray of light? Do we love God and His creatures for the sake of God?
Laugh even in adversity
And do we laugh in all conditions and circumstances of life? It is easy to laugh when fortune favours us. Do we laugh when misfortune dogs our footsteps? Do we laugh in the face of suffering and sorrow, of danger and difficulty, of trial and tribulation, of disease and death? Do we laugh when our dear ones desert us, and we are left alone in this wide, wonderful world? Do we laugh when all around us is darkness and not a star doth shine?
Until we have learnt to love and laugh, we are not ready to be led into the Kingdom of God. Our hearts are hard: they need to become soft and supple. Our soil is not fertile: it needs to be ploughed with love and laughter. If the ground is hard, the seed will not grow. Prepare the ground. Prepare it with love and laughter!
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