There is so much truth in Wilcox's poem. When we are happy, when times are good, everyone is our friend, and everyone wants to share in our happiness. But when we are sad, when times are bad, friends seem hard to come by.
And yet both emotions are beneficial to us. For example, laughter has healing powers. Some people, and I am one of them, believe that the very act of laughing can help cure disease. Laughter, really hearty laughter, does so much for a person both physically and mentally. It relaxes you, it boosts your immune system, it triggers the release of endorphins (the body's natural feel-good chemicals), and it increases blood flow which helps protect your heart. If you are stressed, a good bout of laughter relieves your tension and your stress leaving you relaxed long after the laughter has subsided.
Besides the physical and mental benefits of laughter there are social benefits. Shared laughter attracts others to us, strengthens our relationships with them and helps us to bond with those others. Laughter defuses tense situations and reduces conflict. I've often thought that perhaps all soldiers should be issued Groucho Marx masks to wear into combat. Fighting might be reduced to the use of pillows and pies.
But what about crying? Are tears so bad? Which is worse, crying because of something terrible that has happened to you, or holding in those tears, smothering the suffering that you feel?
"Big boys don't cry." Many men have heard that so often while growing up that they have completely submerged their emotions. As a result they can no longer cry— nor can they rejoice. Because tears often come along with happiness too. How many people have cried upon the birth of a child? Cried with joy and wonder. At weddings people cry, both from sorrow at losing a child, and from joy at seeing two people joined in marriage.
So many people have cried upon the death of a loved one. And their tears were from sorrow, but sometimes also from relief that their loved one's sufferings were over.
To laugh. To cry. To do both is to be human. To do both is to open yourself to Life. To do neither is to shut yourself away, to reject Life.
So whatever comes your way today, be it laughter or tears, embrace it and embrace Life.