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Laugh When You Can January 28, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Mindfulness, Spirit & Ego.

In a friend’s Christmas newsletter one year, she summed up the year with the following statement:

Life is good, but life is short.  Bad things happen.  Laugh when you can. 

She’s a writer and may have penned those lines herself.  Or she may have been sharing a quote that struck her as profound.

Either way, the message stuck with me, and I shared it with others.

Life is good, but life is short. 

People die unexpectedly.  Several of my childhood playmates died young.  One was electrocuted in a farm accident before he turned twenty.  The other died of a brain aneurism before she reached thirty.

Neither knew they were going to die on the day they did.  They no doubt expected to see at least a few more sunrises before cashing in their chips.

I wonder whether they wasted precious time in their last few days dwelling on hurts of the past, or worrying about the future, instead of enjoying the present moment.

If they had known of their impending demise, they would have had no reason to hang on to anything that had caused them pain in the past.  They would have had no reason to worry about what might or might not happen five days, five weeks, or five years down the road.

Instead, they could have existed solely in the present moment, enjoying  their last days on Earth, with smiles on their faces and laughter ringing from their lips.

Life unfolds moment by moment.

Each moment is a new beginning.  Another chance to “get it right.”  Another opportunity to focus on all that is being offered ~ right here, right now.

My childhood playmates had no idea that they were going to die when they did.  In truth, none of us know how long we will be here ~ how much time we have left.  Someone dying of a terminal illness may suspect that the end is drawing near, but most of us remain entirely in the dark about how many sunsets and sunrises we have left to witness.

If we want to enjoy our remaining time on Earth, we must treat each day as if it were going to be our last.

We must let go of the past and embrace the present.

Quotes to ponder:

The eyes of my eyes are opened. ~ e.e.cummings

It is only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up – that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had. ~ Elizabeth Kobler-Ross

There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.  By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

We do not laugh because we are happy.  We are happy because we laugh.

The notes I handle no better than many pianists.  But the pauses between the notes ~ ah, that is where the art resides.  ~ Arthur Schnabel

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related posts:  Choice (Kate Shrewsday) * Celebrate Life * Mindfulness: A Miracle Drug * Your Brain On Bliss10 Happiness Boosters * 13 Tips to Stay Healthy & Happy * Meditation 101 The ABC’s of Happiness * More ABC’s of Happiness * Living Without Regret (Think Simple Now) * Be Here Now


1. theonlycin - January 28, 2011

How sad for you to lose such young friends, Nancy., despite the positive spin you put on living life while alive.

nrhatch - January 28, 2011

Thanks, Cin.

Their premature deaths opened my eyes to the impermanence of all things. Live for today. For tomorrow may be too late.

2. Paula Tohline Calhoun - January 28, 2011

As the sage Native American chief I had the opportunity to hear speak one day said”

“We of all creation are most blessed, because we KNOW that we are going to die.”

Also, as you said, we might as well spend our limited time laughing as much as possible! And more importantly, we should not only laugh when we can, but also laugh when we “seemingly” can’t. Laughing in the midst of difficult circumstances is the most curative.

nrhatch - January 28, 2011

You are so right. Laughter is, indeed, the best medicine ~ it reduces stress and relieves pain and fatigue.

RX for happiness: “Laugh twice and call me in the morning.”

3. Naomi - January 28, 2011

Beautifully composed post, Nancy. Thank you for the reminder to savour every moment – always welcome 🙂

nrhatch - January 28, 2011

Thanks, Naomi.

Great to see you again ~ I know that you and Dave have been enjoying the splendors surrounding you. 😀

It is so easy to lose the golden moments of our lives when we are not mindful of our mortality.

4. Pseu - January 28, 2011

Kubler Ross, amazing woman. We learned about her in nurse education as she had a lot to say, wisely about those who are dying. The five stages of grief… interesting reading:

nrhatch - January 28, 2011

Thank you, Pseu. I knew her name sounded familiar but I could not recall the context.

Now, I can.

5. Debra - January 28, 2011

when i was in 6th grade. a classmate died over the Christmas break.

our teacher (looking back on it) had a hard time deciding how to tell us.

after she told us he had died. she said we should talk to our parents. what a wise woman she was.

it was then I learned that even the young ones (like me then) died. until then, in my mind , death only happened when one became old.

yes, impermanence. thanks for the place to comment 🙂

nrhatch - January 28, 2011

Thanks, Debra. It’s hard to be so young and learn how precarious and transient life can be.

Your teacher’s decision to ask parents to address the situation makes sense, because different families have differing beliefs on life and the afterlife.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Peace.

6. Kate Shrewsday - January 28, 2011

I firmly believe that laughing wherever and whenever you can makes perfect sense.

nrhatch - January 28, 2011

Me too! Like Mary Poppin’s Uncle, “I love to laugh, loud, and long, and clear!”

kateshrewsday - January 29, 2011

One day we must meet, up there on the ceiling…

nrhatch - January 29, 2011

Yes! “For tea ~ a drink with jam and bread.”

7. Carol Ann Hoel - January 28, 2011

The pause between the notes. Ha! Yes, it is the mastery of rhythm that truly determines the skill of a pianist. What a uniques way of expressing this distinction.

I guess it is how we treat the pauses in life that determines the quality of our time on earth. Do we use those moments, hours, days to prepare to meet the next event, the next challenge? Will we master the rhythm? Great post, Nancy. Blessings to you…

nrhatch - January 28, 2011

Thanks so much, Carol Ann.

I love that quote and find it relevant to much more than playing the piano keyboard.

When we are faced with challenges, we do our best to handle them mindfully. In the pause after each challenge ends, we have a choice ~ to reclaim the inner peace and happiness that resides in the silent stillness of the eternal now, or continue hanging on to the discordant notes struck by ourselves or others.

The more willing we are to let go of the past, the more easily we re-enter the natural flow of life. The more we practice, the better our pauses become. 😀

8. souldipper - January 28, 2011

Kubler-Ross was once asked what advice she had for living. Her response, in paraphrase form, was to never stop ourselves from doing that little deed that comes to mind. e.g. of excuses: “Oh, he’ll think I’m silly if I do that.” or “I better do my shopping instead.”

nrhatch - January 28, 2011

Many of us are “prisoners” of the opinions of others ~ which enables us to be easily manipulated.

When we start steering our own ship, we free ourselves at last.

Be who you are and say what you mean, because those who mind don’t matter . . . and those who matter don’t mind. ~ Dr. Seuss

9. oldancestor - January 28, 2011

Good thing to read after getting some frustrating news today. Thank you.

nrhatch - January 28, 2011

Sorry about the frustrating news. Life’s like that at times.

Here’s hoping for better days ahead.

10. nancycurteman - January 29, 2011

Thank you for this little reality check. You are so right. We need to let go of little irritations and reach for the joy in every day.

nrhatch - January 29, 2011

Thanks, NC. If we are not mindful, it’s easy to hang on to yesterday’s junk ~ it becomes a habit.

Changing habits that are not working for us is simple (not easy) when we remain mindful of our thoughts. We see what we are thinking. We see that it’s a re-run. We change the channel to This Moment! In time, the stale re-runs stop appearing UNLESS we affirmatively seek them out because we are in the mood for some nostalgia.

11. healing4tomorrow - January 29, 2011

Nice post Nancy. There’s been 3 deaths in the last month in my family (two were unexpected). I understand that life never ends but most of the people I am dealing with can’t comprehend and is so sad. They don’t think that’s an option right now and it makes the situation so much more difficult for them. It is hard to watch them so unhappy while their loved ones are okay on the other side and want them to go on laughing and living.

nrhatch - January 29, 2011

When we recognize that Spirit survives the death of our outer shells, it is easier to accept death as the closing of one door and the opening of another.

But the departure of loved ones is still sad. That sadness is the price we pay for the joy we had together.


12. viewfromtheside - January 29, 2011

and if you can’t laugh, at least smile

nrhatch - January 29, 2011

I agree. Smile and the world smiles with you! 😀

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