Don’t worry, be happy!

man hula-hooping

I laughed so hard at The Flintstones movie that other theater patrons turned around and stared at me. That was back in 1994.

But “Yabba-dabba-doo!” tickles me still today, as does, “a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer in your pants” from the famous 1975 Mary Tyler Moore Show episode, featuring Chuckles the Clown’s funeral.

I don’t know why I break up over this silly stuff, but I do know it’s a good thing. Research has shown laughter reduces stress hormones and boosts the body’s immune function. It can lower your anxiety level and help you relax. Some health-care facilities are even adopting group laughter as a therapy.

All of this got me thinking of exactly what makes me laugh.

A certain male friend uses bad words in his humor and also tells some pretty graphic jokes that — coming from another person — would offend me. But coming from him, they make me howl!

Some people, relating cute things their dogs do, become a bit too precious. But I find those about Gracie, my good friend Fay’s little bichon, hilarious: “Gracie had a good day today. She got to ride in the car, and when we went to the drive-in bank, the teller gave her a doggie treat. This made up for yesterday. Gracie was much put out that I bought her a new red leash instead of the pink one she wanted.”

And then there are the grade school-level jokes that set me off:

Did you hear about the peanut in Central Park? 

It was a salted. 

What all this is leading up to is the state of mind that laughter evokes, which is, of course, happiness. Specifically, studies are being conducted today on what makes people happy.

Positive psychology, as this science is called, delves into the factors that produce upbeat emotions and a sense of purpose. Most surprising is that — with the exception of people in extreme poverty — having a lot of money isn’t one of them. Purchasing material things offers only temporary happiness. It’s what we do in life that matters in the long run.

People who claim to be happy have developed strong social connections. This involves working together, being helpful and cooperative and also being there for someone who matters when that person needs help. And in a slightly different sense, this means being there for yourself. A recent University of Michigan study titled Get moving to get happier suggests there’s a relationship between physical activity and happiness.

Having previously played tennis and bicycled, and now walking two miles a day, I can personally attest to that: My exercise routine has always provided a sense of accomplishment and well-being, ergo happiness.

And so, I guess I’ll keep hitting the trail, and also yukking it up:

In God we trust. All others pay cash. … Remember, happiness can’t buy money … Yabba-dabba-doo!

Study up!

Exercise and laughter appears to be the best medicine when it comes to wellness, according to recent studies.

Exercise: Read the results of a 2018 University of Michigan study of peer reviewed journal articles, Get moving to get happier.

Laughter: An ABC News story, Laughing Makes Your Brain Work Better, reports that a 2014 study out of Loma Linda University in Southern California found laughing at funny videos for 20 minutes can improve short-term memory and lowers stress levels.

Carol Hall lives in Woodbury. She’s a longtime freelance writer, a University of Minnesota graduate and a former Northwest Airlines stewardess. Send comments and questions to