Don't Forget to Laugh - It Could Save Your Life!

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Roland Rendon laughs with a child at the Umut-Nadjeshda Children’s Rehabilitation Center in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, May 9, 2009. The two filled the room with laughter while having no idea what the other was saying. Rendon is deployed to the 376th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan. He is a California Air National Guardsman with the 144th Security Forces Squadron, Fresno, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo / Master Sgt. Charles Wade)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Roland Rendon laughs with a child at the Umut-Nadjeshda Children’s Rehabilitation Center in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, May 9, 2009. The two filled the room with laughter while having no idea what the other was saying. Rendon is deployed to the 376th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan. He is a California Air National Guardsman with the 144th Security Forces Squadron, Fresno, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo / Master Sgt. Charles Wade)

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, CALIF. -- I take my role as father very seriously. Being a good father isn't enough for me. I want to be the best father I can be because my children deserve nothing less. I want them to be successful, confident and independent thinkers...ready for anything that may come their way.

So one day I decided to teach my four wonderful, but naïve teenagers a skill that could save their lives....how to change a flat tire!

Being the detail-oriented person that I am (wonder where I got that?), I went through the entire process step-by-step, showing them exactly what to do. Assess the situation, safety, tire, jack in place, loosen lug nuts, raise jack, safety, etc. The last step is very important. You must tighten the lug nuts very tight or the vibrations may loosen them and the tire might fall off. (Not a good thing! I've seen this firsthand on a hay wagon. It makes a big mess.) So I made sure the lug nuts were very tight (or so I thought).

Fast forward several days later. Someone in my family pointed out to me that the tire we took off and put back on had a couple of loose lug nuts. Silly me, I was sure I tightened them all the way.

In the end, my children and wife got a good laugh out of my "father knows best" tire-changing scenario. I get reminded of this every now and then, usually when I take my-self too seriously. It's their way of saying, "Lighten-up dad!"

There are two morals to this story. First, make sure you tighten the lug nuts securely after changing a tire. Bad things could happen if they are loose. Not a happy thought. Second, don't forget to laugh -- it could save your life!

According to a Psychology-Today.com article by Hara Estroff Marano, called Laughter: The Best Medicine, it is reported that "laughter reduces pain, increases job performance, connects people emotionally, and improves the flow of oxygen to the heart and brain.

"The article goes on to say that at the 2005 meeting of the American College of Cardiology, "Michael Miller, M.D., of the University of Maryland reported that in a study of 20 healthy people, provoking laughter did as much good for their arteries as aerobic activity.

"My serious intentions as a caring father turned into a life lesson on the importance of laughter. My family and I get a good laugh when we remember how my good intentions back fired on me. Ha, ha, laugh at me, sure, I can take it! Yes, I am human. Even the best of fathers can mess up and recover if they have the right attitude. Laughter may not be the best medicine, but it is good medicine, wouldn't you agree?

We take our jobs as Airmen very seriously and we should. Our nation depends on us to do our mission the best we can. Human lives are at stake. But we should all remember to add a bit of humor into our lives. Laughter helps us deal with stress and helps us maintain a positive, healthy mental outlook.

I give you permission to have a silly moment, smile or laugh, although not at others or when you need to be serious.

Sometimes when I'm driving home after a long and serious day of work, I simply remember some of the silly, lighter moments in my life. After a couple of laughs my spirit is lifted. I'm happier and more energetic. I even smile at people passing me and I just have to thank God for creating us with the ability to laugh. Go ahead, use your ability to laugh. It's free, simple and therapeutic, and it may even save your life!