Laughter – Day 1
June 19, 2017
I walked out the bakery door holding my crescent and coffee. I looked down. On the sidewalk lay a large dog. He was on his back, motionless. A crowd of people was gathering around and staring.
“Oh my God,” I said.
A man walked up to me. “What’s the matter?” he asked. “Haven’t you ever seen a dead dog before?”
I was horrified. Then I saw the glimmer of a smile on the man’s face. I looked more closely. This is Los Angeles. Even dogs want to be actors. The owner had told the dog to play dead instead of sit while he was in the bakery. I chuckled and then walked to my car.
I first learned about the value of laughter the year after I got out of treatment for my chemical dependency. I had a job working for a law firm in a small town. I was so frightened—of life, of myself, of whether I could stay sober. I didn’t talk much those days. I was all bound up inside of myself.
I spent a lot of time working alongside a pretty woman in her late twenties, a paralegal in the firm. Often our tasks consisted of rather repetitive, unexciting chores. Mailing, filing, organizing massive stacks of correspondence and legal documents for real estate transactions, and typing wills. This was in the old days, before electric typewriters, before computers. Wills had to be typed perfectly; we couldn’t use correction fluid or erasers. It wasn’t uncommon to get to the last line of the page and make a mistake.
There was nothing particularly exciting happening in my world as I struggled to learn the early disciplines of staying sober and being responsible. What I remember most was working alongside this woman, and her ability to laugh at herself, at her tasks, at the sometimes gruesome and boring nature of life. I hadn’t been around anyone with a sense of humor. To this day, I don’t think she knows how much she affected me and how much she taught me. I can’t even remember her name, but I remember the lesson. She taught me to laugh.
Laughter takes the pressure off and lightens the load. We can actually feel our body and our chemistry change when the corners of the mouth turn upward toward the heavens in a smile.
Value: Whether it’s a slight chuckle from deadpan humor or a laugh that makes your belly ache and tears stream down your face, laughter is the value for this week.
From the book: 52 Weeks of Conscious Contact
About the author
In addiction and recovery circles, Melody Beattie is a household name. She is the best-selling author of numerous books.
One of Melody's more recent titles is The Grief Club, which was published in 2006. This inspirational book gives the reader an inside look at the miraculous phenomenon that occurs after loss--the being welcomed into a new "club" of sorts, a circle of people who have lived through similar grief and pain, whether it be the loss of a child, a spouse, a career, or even one's youth.