Did you laugh today? I don't mean a giggle or a chuckle - I mean a big ole belly laugh. The kind where your tummy hurts and your cheeks ache. If it's really good, you'll also have tears of laughter rolling down your cheeks. You may even pee your pants (it's OK - happens to the best of us!). That's when you know it's a top-notch, high quality laugh.
Kids do this all the time. Laugh, laugh, laugh. We are all born experts in joy. But at some point we all slowly start to lose this expertise. We become adults with busy jobs, kids to pick up from school, ageing parents, and our own health issues. In short, things get more serious. We laugh less, worry more.
Laughter is one of my favourite things in life. It's also a barometer of the quality of my life. Have I laughed much lately? Am I taking life entirely too seriously? Yes? Time to reassess things, which I did recently.
When I walked out of my doctor's office five weeks ago it was not with a prescription for an anti-anxiety drug. It was with a to-do list: eliminate caffeine, get regular exercise and spend time with your friends. I took that list seriously. The most fun was definitely #3.
My friendships had suffered a bit in the last few months as my mental health declined. But I knew that I could do something about it. As opportunity would have it, I was invited by a comic friend to watch him perform at Stand Up For Mental Health. I gathered a couple of buddies, we met up for dinner and a catch-up, then hit the show. And did we laugh? Boy, did we ever.
Created by David Granirer, Stand Up For Mental Health is a fabulous opportunity for people who live with mental illness to learn a craft, stretch their boundaries and laugh about some pretty difficult subject matter. Granted, we went there expecting to have fun and laugh. But it was so much more than just that. Belly ache? Check! Cheeks sore? Check! Tears? Check! It all added up to some of nature's very best medicine of all: laughter.
Thank you to Al, David, Debra and Shep for some top-notch laughter. You certainly helped my mental health. It was just what the doctor ordered.
P.S. Learn more about Stand Up For Mental Health HERE