Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Laughing is the Best Medecine

Hello readers, I sadly only have two weeks left here in lovely Thailand, but am taking the time to enjoy each and every day. Tomorrow will bring a different experience for me than yesterday has, however, each day consists of a good laugh. Why is laughing so powerful? Laughing, from the internet’s, The Free Dictionary by Farlex says laughing is, “to feel a triumphant or exultant sense of well-being”. To me, laughing is a universal medicine, similar to music as a universal principle across the world. Most people around the world can enjoy music, understand music, and participate in music. Likewise, laughing is the universal reaction of happiness and pleasure; it can arise from a joke, a silly mistake, or even a simple smile. I can easily say Thailand, also known as “the land of smiles,” has brought me more laughter each and every day.
About a week or so ago, I caught the laughing bug, one of the great “diseases” you can apparently catch here in Thailand. I used to have this bug years ago, but it seemed to have crawled out of my body only to re-appear after a long hike up a 1,237 stair mountain to a sitting Buddha. When reaching the top, I sat on a rock, overlooking the cities, oceans, trees, mountains, and people below me. I could hear roosters “cocka dooda doo’ling,” dogs barking, and Thai’s playing their traditional Thai music all the way down the mountain. I sat there, in awe of the sight I was seeing; I then closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and meditated. I sat there on the rock at the top of the mountain next to the sitting Buddha image, and concentrated on forgiveness. I forgave those who have hurt me, as well as forgiving myself for those I have hurt. After many, many breaths, I opened my eyes and looked at the sight I saw previously but it looked somewhat different; everything was further down, blurry, and new. I took another deep breath, taking in the new and powerful sight. I smiled, and then walked back down the mountain.
Later that night at dinner, I had strange feelings all throughout my body. I felt somewhat uncomfortable, like I had just experienced something too powerful for me to handle. Amanda, one of my good friends on this trip, looked at me and asked if I had bug spray in my eye because my eyes were apparently red. I couldn’t hold it in anymore, I just let out the tears. I excused myself to the bathroom and continued crying, however the crying didn’t really stop altogether, it just turned into something else. I came back to the dinner table and the waitress served our dinner. Kim (who was sitting next to me) and I grabbed some chicken soup to put on our rice. Looking at the chicken, with its skin still attached, Kim and I both lost it; we just started laughing. My crying from before had turned over to laughter, however this laughter didn’t stop. I don’t know if there was something in the air that afternoon at the top of the mountain, or if it was the amount of water I had lost from my body during that sweaty trek, but something had triggered a button, letting the laughing bug enter my body. It must have entered for a reason, because I can honestly say I have not been this happy in a long time, and I can truly say laughing has been my medicine.
Additionally, this bug still hasn’t left me, almost a week and a half later now; it just spreads from one being to another. No matter where I am, walking down the street with Daniel who is being sarcastic, buying angry bird earrings with Amanda, or playing telephone at a group dinner in a Chinese restaurant, there is always laughter brightening the mood and spreading smiles across faces I may have never known before.
Alternatively however, laughter can be used for feeling nervous, scared, or even of pain. I have noticed while being here the Thai’s may laugh not only because something is funny, but because they feel uneasy in a conversation. When I was at the umbrella factory with our group on a weekend trip in Chiang Mai, I asked the artist to paint a Buddha image on my shirt. He just laughed at my question, not because he thought it was a funny question, but because he didn’t have enough time to paint such a detailed piece and didn’t know how to communicate that to me. I felt at the time however a little uneasy like I was asking for something ridiculous. But I just had to realize the language and cultural barrier and the way nerves take over people sometimes. It has just been something for me to get used to and realize people laugh not only when they are happy. For instance, I know I sometimes laugh when I am in pain; I feel like laughing may mentally make the injury less painful and I don’t always like to show others that I am in pain.
How has laughing impacted your life here in Thailand; or for other readers, in your lives in general? Is it as powerful of an impact on your life as it is for me? And do you think it truly is the best medicine?


  1. Sarah your blog literally made me laugh out loud just remembering that bumpy skinned-chicken incident! I love your contagious laugh so much and I'll miss it when we're back home! I pretty much agree with the statement that laughter is the best medicine. In music therapy (at least Neurologic Music Therapy perspective) we focus so much on functionality for clients, which is needed and wonderful, I think sometimes we get a little forgetful that often a client having fun or letting out a good laugh is important as well. I want to make sure that I let myself laugh as much as I need in life, and help others to enjoys laughing. When I hear advice from older people of what they would have done differently, they always say "laugh more" soI'm glad you're taking their advice to heart and I want to as well!

  2. Sarah, I miss your laughter so much already! I also used to laugh much more than I do now, but I laughed more in Thailand than I had in a really long time. That laughing fit we had after the Tiger Cave Temple climb was the first one I had had in so long and it was wonderful. I'm so glad that we were in the same laughing place that evening! And I also laugh when nervous or in pain. I laugh uncontrollably on rollercoasters and when I used to get hit in softball, I would laugh it off. I think being able to laugh at yourself and laugh at frustrating situations is so important for being happy in your day to day life and I'm glad Thailand brought some laughter back to me!