They say that laughter is the best medicine. When you've had one of those belly-bursting giggle fits, you know that's true. You come up for air feeling like your whole body has been thoroughly dusted and vacuumed. It's like having done the downward dog for two hours. Yet you've reached this state of balance through the dizzying heights of, um, simply laughing.
I was thinking about this yesterday as I walked home from the swimming pool. I had done wonders to my body by swimming, then spending time in a sauna and finally the steam room. All of these relax me, and when I'm sitting in those hot, steamy cabins I always feel how good a life I must have to be able to do this.
Anyway, I finished and went to the changing room, which was empty. I started thinking about what I could whip up for dinner, with the Tesco delivery still twelve hours away. As I was drying off, another girl walked in and started getting undressed opposite me. I started moisturising and heard her laughing. I looked up. She was just looking at the wall, putting on her swimsuit. I continued putting cream on my face and I heard her giggling again. I checked myself. Did I have my knickers on back to front? Did I have smears of cream around my nipples? Did I just look . . . bizarre? I seemed normal as far as I could make out. What was making her laugh?
As she stood in front of the mirror, putting on her swimming hat, she kept up her little laughs and I realised her laughing was nothing to do with me. Off she went to the pool and I headed out into the night to walk home. I thought about her. There she was, laughing her head off, seemingly for no reason at all, but of course there was a reason.
This is the great thing about it. That girl was thinking back to something or someone and it made her laugh in the present. It could still affect a different moment with the same delight. It could have been a ridiculous text message, a funny face, a crazy situation or a tried and tested fool proof joke which never fails to bring on a chuckle. Brilliant. This must be the way to not have to do the downward dog for hours on end. Clean yourself out by thinking back and simply laughing at something. And there's a million more things we can laugh at with the power of hindsight. I once took my parents and brother on an off-road adventure in Patagonia. The road was rocky, seriously muddy, as curvaceous as a Brazilian catwalk show and in the middle of nowhere. I had never driven it like that before and the atmosphere in the car turned to one of absolute terror rather than high-spirited adventure. However, if you were to ask my mum about it now, she'd laugh her head off. That's what I'm talking about. Broken bones, now healed: hilarious. Awkward, blush-inducing moments long gone: side-splitting. Wrong turns and hours being lost way back when: comical.
So, here we should start a laughter revolution. Sit on the bus, in the office, on your couch, in the bath and just think of something that's funny and laugh. You'll feel great.
And if you seriously can't think of anything funny, then think about what you're trying to do to make yourself laugh. That's pretty funny in itself and the fact you can't think of anything, more so.