Laughter is a gift

Thoughts to Ponder – February 5, 2016

“Laughter is wine for the soul – laughter soft, or loud and deep,
tinged through with seriousness … the hilarious declaration made by man that life is worth living.”

Sean O’Casey*

We often look at life as a serious situation. We’re born, live a tough life, then we die. What is there to laugh at? Everything.

My father was filled with anger and sadness, as were most men of his generation. They grew up during the Great Depression and survived horrendous circumstances in World War II. What was there to laugh at? Yet, if you attended any of our family reunions you would find the men outside under a shade tree laughing so hard we could hear it from some distance away. What they found funny is a puzzle, because children were not privy to their conversations.

Sometimes we could talk them into going down to the creek with us to see what lurked under the water. While supposedly condescending to amuse the children, one of them would begin splashing us and we all ended up in a big water fight. When called for dinner we’d all slosh back up the hill and see our mothers standing on the porch laughing at us.

When asked how he was feeling, my dad would always respond, “With my fingers.” Dad used say that men didn’t like skinny women. They wanted one “with a little meat on their bones.” Invariably my mom would ask, “So why did you marry the skinniest woman in the county?” His response, “I fattened you up a bit, didn’t I?”

As a child I couldn’t understand why Dad was sometimes funny and sometimes angry. When I became an adult I saw many of the same traits in myself and assumed it was an inherited disposition. As life progressed I began to understand that on one level laughter was a coping mechanism. Dad was living that part of the quote, “tinged through with seriousness…”

As I grew older I began to learn about letting go of old pain. I found that the more pain I released the quality of my laughter changed. Instead of laughing to release pain, I now laugh from pure joy. What a gift to laugh just because my great-grandsons give me hugs or I see a friend. How joyous to laugh with delight because the sun is shining on my face and creating shadows under the trees. I’m so grateful that I’ve moved forward to “the hilarious declaration made by man that life is worth living.” 

While O’Casey didn’t mention it, laughter is a great way to connect with others. Have you ever been in a meeting where everyone is working hard to protect his or her turf? You can feel that the people are disconnected from each other. Then someone tells a joke. As everyone laughs, the distance melts and the group begins to work as a team.


Thank you for the gift of laughter and learning that laughter can help us in so many ways. It can release pain. It is a way to connect with others. It is a way to express joy. We laugh with joy that we are alive while we laugh at the funny things humans do every day.

And, so it is.

* Originally John O’Casey (1880-1964), Irish playwright, Green Crows, “Saturday Night, 1956

© by Sharon D. Dillon, February 5, 2016

Sharon D. Dillon,, “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by Available in print and e-format at