Grease your giggling gears!

Monday 20th January 2014

Grease your giggling gears, turn up each side of your mouth and brighten the day of everyone you meet!

Mrs Harrington’s Assembly on Monday 20 January 2014 

The third Monday in January has for a number of years been seen to be the most depressing day of the year.  Some people this year thought that 6 January was the day when the factors that are used to ‘calculate’ the level of general misery were at their height.  Others hold to the idea that it is the third Monday of the new year when people will feel at their lowest ebb.  The idea of a particular day being likely to be the day when most people feel low emerged a few years ago.  The formula used to calculate this uses the factors of weather, debt, time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to action.

The Happiest day has been calculated as close to midsummer’s day in June.  The good news is, on this blue Monday, that you don’t have to wait until June because on Friday it is Belly Laugh Day.  This was first celebrated in 2006 when its founder, Bellman Elaine Helle decided a day was needed to celebrate the great gift of laughter.  She says that we celebrate love and give thanks for many things and that we should celebrate laughter, celebrating with “the people in your life past and present, who laugh with you and help you laugh and smile.”   She says it’s  also about “celebrating the laughs and smiles that transform our moments” and remembering “the strange, funny, ‘now I can laugh at it’ moments.”

This is taken from the Belly Laugh Day website:  At 1:24 p.m. local time on the 24th day of the first month of the year the Belly Laugh Bounce ‘Round the World’ begins and everyone is invited to “throw up their arms in the air and laugh out loud.”   The Belly Laugh Bounce begins in Fiji and rolls over seven continents, ending in Alaska.   Helle says, “the Belly Laugh Bounce ‘Round the World stems from [the] celebration of the year 2000. On December 31, 1999 we set up a world map and hit a gong each time the year 2000 dawned in a new time zone. We had a game marker to mark the progress across the world.”

Helle suggests getting those people who are not so keen to celebrate in the mood by smiling at them and quotes some research that explains that when we see someone smiling and laughing our brain is formulated so that we want to mirror the behaviour and we will want to smile and laugh too.  Helle says that we have all been given the gift of laughter and Belly Laugh Day is a time to celebrate that gift.  She wants everyone to remember the power of laughter. It helps “us connect with each other, change our mood and energy, become more creative and innovative. Importantly, it “boosts joy and happiness.”

So this week, instead of feeling low because of the factors used to determine Blue Monday, try smiling and using laughter to raise your own mood and that of others.   Some of you will have chosen the habit of mind to do with humour:  Finding Humour.  This guides us to ‘laugh a little!’ Finding the whimsical, incongruous and unexpected.  Being able to laugh at ourselves.   And we know that  laughter, smiling at others, laughing with others not only makes us, and them, happier, it also increases our own creativity.

This got me thinking:  did Jesus have a sense of humour?   I believe he did, so I looked up an article that helped me to understand how perhaps Jesus used humour.  James Martin writes that the Bible clearly paints a picture of Jesus of Nazareth as a clever man, but he never seems to laugh, much less crack a smile. He explains that  one difficulty with finding humour in the New Testament is that what was seen as funny to those living in Jesus’ time may not seem funny to us now.

He goes on to say that for someone in first-century Palestine, the set up of a situation would probably have been more amusing than the punchline we tend to go for.  Amy Jill Liven, a New Testament scholar at Vanderbilt University says that it is likely that the parables in the Bible were amusing in their exaggeration or hyperbole. “The idea that a mustard seed would have sprouted into a big bush that birds would build their nests in would be humorous.”  People in Jesus’ day would probably have laughed at many of his intentionally funny illustrations: for example, the idea that someone would have lit a lamp and put it under a basket, or that a person would have built a house on sand or that a father would give a child stones instead of bread.

James Martin writes:

 ‘There are other indications in the Gospels that Jesus of Nazareth had a lively sense of humor. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is castigated for not being as serious as John the Baptist. “The Son of Man came eating and drinking,” Jesus said, “and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard.’ ” In other words, the Gospels record criticism of Jesus for being too high-spirited.’

He goes on to say ‘After his time on Earth, some of this playfulness may have been downplayed by the Gospel writers, who, scholars say, may have felt pressured by the standards of their day to present a more serious Jesus.’  And included Nathaniel, who uses a cheeky quip when told by his friends about Jesus, in his chosen group of disciples.

James Martin  quotes Eileen Russell, a clinical psychologist based in New York who specializes in the role of resilience, on how she would describe the psychological makeup of a person without a sense of humour.

“A person without a sense of humour would lead to that person having significant social problems,” she said. “He would most likely have difficulty making social connections, because he wouldn’t be able to read signals from other people, and would be missing cues.”

He says ‘that’s the opposite of what we know about Jesus from the Gospels. Yet that’s just the kind of one-sided image that many Christians have of Jesus. It shows up in Christian books, sermons and in artwork. It influences the way that Christians think about Jesus, and therefore influences their lives as Christians.

If part of being human includes having a sense of humour, and if Jesus was “fully human,” as Christians believe, he must have had a fully developed sense of humou. Indeed, his sense of humour may be one unexamined reason for his ability to draw so many disciples around him with ease.’

So let’s listen to the Laughing and Smiling Oaths and see if we can use them in our lives today:

The Laughing Oath
I do solemly swear from this day forward
To grease my giggling gears each day
And to wear a grin on my face for no reason at all!
I promise to tap my funny bone often,
With children, family, friends, colleagues and clients,
And to laugh at least fifteen times per day.
I believe that frequent belly laughter 
Cures terminal tightness, cerebral stiffness,
And hardening of the attittudes,
And that HA HA often leads to AHA!
Therefore, I vow, from this day forth,
To brighten the day of everyone I meet,
And to laugh long and prosper.

The Big Smiling Oath
I do unsolemnly swear,

To turn up each side of my mouth,
And to smile as often as possible,
I agree to laugh several times daily.
And to give and receive at least three hugs per day!
I vow to have frequent bouts of silliness,
And more happiness for no reason.
From this day forth,
I promise to laugh long and prosper.

Dear Lord, We thank you for the gift of laughter.  Help us to use it with kindness, with empathy, with joy and with your love.
Spread happiness and joy in our school this week. Amen

So!  Grease your giggling gears, turn up each side of your mouth and brighten the day of everyone you meet!

Assembly by Mrs Harrington, Headmistress