Here's a great true story:

A former patient of mine came back to see me for a few sessions a while ago because, seemingly out of nowhere, he'd had a stroke about a month earlier. He'd been to the hospital, undergone many tests, was winding down a regimen of physical therapy and seemed to be doing fine.

So, why did he come to see me? Well, after all the tests, the doctors and technicians couldn't identify a medical cause for the stroke, and this patient had worked on himself long enough to at least believe it was worth investigating possible non-medical causes. After about half the session had gone by, though, we hadn't come up with anything. His marriage seemed better than ever; his kids were doing okay; he was looking for a new job, but was getting great support from his current job, even getting full pay while he was laid up because his employers thought so highly of him. We were both kind of puzzled, but we just kept talking, not wanting to try and force a conclusion.

At one point, he told me that he did have one really unusual experience since the stroke. He'd had a laughing fit while kibitzing around with his ten year old son. A real, gut-clenching, tear-inducing laughing fit - over something silly that he couldn't even remember. His son was astonished. "Dad, you never laugh so hard!" the boy said. "Are you okay?"

Bingo! The light bulb when off in my head.

You see, although this particular man had overcome many challenges in the course of his self-work, and had accomplished much, he had never given up his "cool" mask. As both a person of Irish descent, and an old Sixties hipster, this guy never laughed or cried too whole-heartedly because it wasn't... cool. Indeed, he admitted that when he let go so fully with his son, it made him a bit uncomfortable. But I got it, and after we talked about it, so did he. The unexplained stroke was a little zap from his Higher Self to let him know what he still had left to do in this lifetime before his work was done. He had to remove that cool mask and learn how to laugh and cry fully... which explains why he came to me.

I was moved to tears in the session at that moment of realization and clarity. Our souls are so relentless in the pursuit of our self-actualization that a stroke, heart attack, financial crisis, break-up of a relationship, whatever it takes, will be used to wake us up and create the opportunity for positive change in the areas that matter most. And laughter is one of those areas, one of the most important channels through which our spirits express. As John Travolta's angelic character said in the movie, "Michael": "You gotta laugh - it's the key to loving."

And loving is what this whole experiment on earth is all about.

Congratulations, my friend. Keep on laughing.

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