In my first year in Thailand, we would be taken from monastery to monastery in the back of a small truck. The senior monks had the best seats, of course, in the cab up front. We junior monks sat squashed on hard wooden benches on the rear tray. Above the benches was a low metal frame, over which was stretched a tarp to protect us from rain and dust.
The roads were all dirt roads, poorly maintained. When the wheels met a pothole, the truck went down and the junior monks went up. Crack! Many times I cracked my head on those hard metal frames. Moreover, being bald-headed monk, I had no “padding” to cushion the blow.
I swore every time I hit my head -in English, so the Thai monks wouldn’t understand. But when the Thai monks hit their heads, they only laughed! I couldn’t figure it out. How can you laugh when you hit your head so painfully hard? Perhaps, I considered, those Thai monks had already hit their heads too many times and there had been some permanent damage.
Because I used to be a scientist, I decided to do an experiment. I resolved to laugh, like the Thai monks, the next time I cracked my head, just to see what it was like. You know what I discovered? I found out that if you laugh when you hit your head, it hurts much less.
Laughter releases endorphins into your blood stream, which are nature’s painkillers. It also enhances your immune system to fight off any infections. So it helps to laugh when you feel pain. If you still don’t believe me, then try it the next time you hit your head.
The experience taught me that when life is painful, it hurts less when you see the funny side and manage a laugh.
~ Ajahn Brahm, From his book ‘Who Ordered this Truckload of Dung?’