Community//

When the Fish Are Eating Your Feet…

Or why your laugh can save your life.

Portrait of beautiful young woman standing against plants
Portrait of beautiful young woman standing against plants

There’s no church in the wild. Walking through a night bazaar in Chiang Mai is an outrageous sensory experience. Brave colors show up in foods, scarves and necklaces. The classic Thai peanut sauce wafts into your nostrils. Shop owners boast better offerings than the identical items next door. And the Garra Rufa are hoping to take a bite out of you and…improve your life.

When I walked up, there was a young, American-looking boy with a bowl cut giggling like crazy while his mom gleefully looked on. I’m a sucker for both new experiences and laughter, so of course, I put my name down to be next in line. Sitting in the chair is sort of scary at first. Your bare toes timidly wiggle as these tiny “doctor fish” approach them. And then…you burst into laughter at both the absurdity of what you’re doing and the feeling.

Do you know the unbelievable power of your laugh? We’re each born into this world with a beautiful ability to create joy. Have you ever noticed how much babies and children love to smile and laugh? It’s in our nature. But with life sometimes comes stress and chaos. So, we forget our sense of humor.

Many studies have been done on the magic of laughter. Here are a few proven reasons to put yourself in the way of a laugh:

Now, if those aren’t enough reasons to have your feet nibbled on by fish, let me share my personal belief about laughter. Along with scientific benefits, I believe laughter shows the universe our willingness to be light. Levity is my focus word for 2020.

I’ve challenged myself to ask the question, “how can I bring levity to this situation?”

It’s hard, and sometimes I forget. But when I’m bringing levity, life becomes more fun. In my lightness, I feel closer to the Universe/God/whatever the ‘f’ you call it…as if I’m levitating. And yes, levity and levitate have the same Latin roots. So, to be light and to float off the ground, as if defying gravity, are the same thing.

We are not on this earth the suffer. But we choose to. Why? Because sometimes it’s just easier to let our fearful minds run the show. Have you ever noticed how when you’re stressed, stress follows you? It’s like climbing down a ladder into a manhole. The great news is, we can choose again and climb up. We get to choose lightness, levity, humor, silver lining, bright sides. And we can do this without pretending life is perfect.

The AHA cites the positive effects of laughter can last 24 hours! Meaning laughing everyday can keep you in a more joyous mood for the rest of your life. What happens when you laugh more? I notice I look at life more optimistically. I’m more likely to want to be around people and build connection. I’m wanting to be kinder and gentler to others and I’m more likely to be generous to myself. At this very moment I’m bringing lightness to my writing. Life is so much simpler than we allow it to be.  

Try making a laugh list of all the things that make you laugh. A clip of a goldendoodle getting a massage, your kids, funny memories from your childhood, wearing mismatched socks on purpose. So even when difficult things come your way, you know how to create lightness. Whatever’s on there, pick one action a day to put yourself in the way of a good, hearty laugh.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

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