In 2004, I received one of those phone calls everyone dreads. At that time, I was living in Japan and my husband and I just had our first child. Our baby boy Eli was just 6 months old. The call relayed information about my father, Allan Kenneth Steele. He had suffered a massive stroke and was retaining fluids. He wasn’t doing well at all and I knew that I had to deal with the fact that this would be his swan song. My husband booked an emergency flight back to Canada to go and see my father not knowing how much longer he was going to be able to fight on. I managed to arrive in time and had 12 hours with him in the hospital room along with my dad’s sister, my beloved Aunt marjorie.
My sister, her husband and my two younger brothers were also present during this difficult time. It was here that we all experienced immense pain. As you can imagine, it felt like a cleaver permanently stuck in your heart but we managed to laugh between those incredibly tough moments. It was the comic relief that helped us get through that incredibly difficult time.
My dad loved the power of laugher and was often caught many a time, cracking up the sales lady, the mechanic at the gas station and strangers he came across in his life. He was extremely generous in this way of sharing his joy. As a young girl, I was impatient and when my dad would chat away sharing his jokes, we were sometimes left waiting restlessly ready to move on. I believe it is only now, years later that I have come to understand him better and see that I can be quite similar to him at times.
Reminiscing about my dad, I vividly remember him saying that people who didn’t laugh (at least at his jokes) had full frontal lobe deficiency. It didn’t matter what occasion it was, my father always enjoyed sharing a smile and making others chuckle. When my husband and I first moved overseas my father would call me regularly and every time we spoke, he had a new joke to share. Even when he was repeating a joke that I had already heard, I still managed to laugh over the phone. Oh, how I miss his voice and would love to hear a few of his familiar jokes. Today would have been my father's 80th birthday. How I wish that he was here with us still.
Laughter and Teaching
A few weeks ago there was a day that my students seemed to be having a tough morning that was full of challenges. The mood was a bit sombre and serious, so I decided to show them a few funny videos. After I asked the students to share what they noticed about their feelings and sensations in their body after watching these hilarious videos and they were keen to share their thoughts.
Some of their responses included:
All the bad stuff that happened today went away.
I feel full of energy.
My face hurts from laughing.
I feel light.
The power of laughter is undeniably healing.There is a quote somewhere that says the average person laughs about 15 times a day and the average preschooler laughs over 400 times a day. There are some days that I take things too seriously and I’m sure that on these days that my genuine laughs are few and far between. This week, I aim to be an over achiever and to find little delights of humor and fun to bring about genuine laughs and joy.
So this week take note;
How many times do you laugh a day?
Do you laugh at yourself?
Who do you laugh with?
How often do you share your joy of laughter?
Who brings laughter into your life?
Do you surround yourself with people who make you laugh and feel joy?
How often do you goof around?
Remember we all need a big dose of silly every day to keep the joy alive. Laughter heals! That's one thing that everybody needs to better understand, including myself. Aim to add more joyous laughter into to your day, every day this week.
Remember to be silly, connect with joy and laughter and remain present.
Neila Steele & Andy Vasily