In class Tuesday, we reflected on our creative muse. On that day, my muse was laughter. I think laughter is so important for sustaining and building ideas, relationships and positive environments. Laughing lightens the mood and allows us to free ourselves of our critic — that voice in our head, saying we can’t do something. I recently read an article about an older couple that said laughter was the key to a long-lasting relationship. This thought has stayed with me, as I continue to wonder what other aspects of our life could use a little laughter. I did a quick Google search for the ‘benefits of laughter’. Here are some explanations I found as to why laughter is the best medicine:
- Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, and I’ve found stress to be one of the main roadblocks to creativity.
- Laughter is good for your physical health, boosting your immune system, decreasing pain and even preventing heart disease!
- Laughter attracts us to others and enhances teamwork, which is another reason laughing could be beneficial in a work environment.
“We humans tend to overintellectualize, forgetting that our bodies “know” how to do things that we understand only after we have done them.” – Sparks of Genius, by Robert Root-Bernstein
Bernstein discusses the idea of muscle memory, something I’m familiar with as a singer. He explains this sensation as the point when you master a movement; for a musician — when you “no longer have to remember where and how to move your fingers to play a piece, you can begin to make real music.” I do not have the best memory, but if I practice a song enough times, I can always rely on muscle memory. It’s amazing when you don’t even have to think about what notes you’re singing any more. You turn to autopilot and you trust that your body will produce the sound exactly as you have practiced, so your mind can think about how to shape the phrase and express an artistic interpretation of the piece. Berstein says that this is body imagination at work, “when the feel of muscle movement or physical tension or touch is enacted in order to think and create.”
I think the difficult part is being patient. We have to give our body time to understand the movement, to remember it, and to perfect it. For many types of movements, this could take years of repetition, whether you’re a singer, an athlete, an architect, or a doctor. Eventually, though, the movements will become instinct — they become a part of you.
As I was saying in my class reflection, I want to make a not-too-serious, yet conscious effort to bring more laughter into my life. For starters, I think going to a comedy show is a great pick-me-up at the end of the day. Here is a video I made about the MU Improv team: