The Power Of Laughter - Proteus Leadership | Des Penny
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The Power Of Laughter

When we lose the laughter then we have lost everything. Laughter truly is the best medicine.

One of the greatest gifts that we can give ourselves is the permission to laugh.

Don’t you just love it when you hear someone having a great belly laugh?

It is absolutely contagious. I love to laugh, often at inappropriate times and places!

Living our life through our Life Eyes allows us to see the funny side of people and situations, often when others do not. This can however be embarrassing at times.

The best church service I ever went to

I remember going to a church service with my mother in Adelaide on a Wednesday evening. All seemed to be going to plan until the minister (my father) announced that he was having trouble with his throat and had a touch of the flu during the week.

Normally this would bring about a sense of great concern and people would immediately begin to pray for the health of the minister so that he could continue his work. Not on this occasion!

A very elderly lady, who was a living legend, with a touch of dementia, stood up in front of the other parishioners and began to instruct the minister on how he could be relieved of this terrible ailment.

“Well Reverend” she said, “when you go home, I want you to eat as much garlic as you can and then go outside and get rid of your wind”.

You could hear the groans go up around the church. How inappropriate! Fancy saying something like that in a church service!

What would God think? Well I think God would have had a great laugh, happy that someone was bringing a bit of normality into the lives of some very stuffy people.

Besides, who knows? It might work! Although I think our family, including my father, had well and truly mastered that remedy, without the garlic!

After getting over the initial shock with a sudden loud burst of laughter, I realised that the seat I was sitting on had developed an incredible shaking motion.

As I turned to my mother, who was sitting next to me, I saw this normally angelic and controlled woman doubled over with her face in her hands, doing everything she could to stop the noise from coming out of her mouth.

With this, I too ventured into hysterical laughter. Now I don’t know if you have experienced the sensation of not being able to control yourself after seeing or hearing something funny, but this unfortunately is a common occurrence for me.

After about five minutes of excruciating abdominal pain caused through trying not to laugh and also trying not to be noticed by others, I gained enough composure to again glance at my mother.

It was then that I saw a different side to this normally ‘in control’ person. She was sitting next to me stuffing her handkerchief into her mouth to muffle the sound that was now too hard to hold in.

She had tears rolling down her cheeks and with this sight, I lost it again.

With tears rolling down my own cheeks I excused myself from the service. How terribly sacrilegious! How simple and how innocent this situation was and yet it was amazing the variety of responses that it generated in people.

Some were disgusted, others dismissed the elderly lady as a problem person, others saw the funny side and responded accordingly.

This little elderly lady and I were to become very close in the years that followed and it was a sad day for me when she died.

You see, she meant no harm, she just stated things as she saw them, without malice, thinking that she was actually helping. When we take things like this to heart we have our Life Eyes well and truly closed.

Perhaps some of the bureaucratic organisations and political institutions we have in our society today need a little elderly lady to state things as she sees them and to make them realise how anally retentive and judgmental many of them have become.

Perhaps we as individuals need a dose of this ‘little elderly lady’ to help us see how seriously we often take even the most simple things.

We should never be ashamed or afraid to laugh and people who do lose that ability to express themselves through laughter should give themselves permission to be happy again.

When we stop the laughter, we lose our joy and passion for life. Everyone needs a good old positive enema every now and then.

From Des Penny’s book Life Eyes
Des Penny is the CEO and Founder of Proteus Enterprises Pty Ltd.


Proteus Leadership is one of Australia’s premier leadership training and development companies. Proteus Leadership provides leadership courses and management training to a range of industries and assists organisations to build positive workplace cultures, implement change and Create Great Leaders. Proteus also facilitates a range of world-class management courses, workshops, conferences and events across Australia and beyond with the sole purpose of bringing leaders together to connect and grow.

“Our core purpose is to Create Great Leaders that will in turn build Great companies and develop Great teams.”

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