22 Oct Build more happiness in your life with…laughter!
Happiness is a form of positive emotion.
Positive emotions can be created via a range of activities including…smiling and laughter.
In this great article on the PsychCentral website, Don MacMannis and Debra Manchester MacMannis outline 8 tips to help you laugh your way to health and happiness…
“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.” -Kurt Vonnegut
If you are a parent, think about the first time your baby smiled at you–not the cute quirky face brought on by tummy problems–but the smile of recognition. How did it make you feel?
If you haven’t had this experience, remember a time that you belly laughed with a friend or watched a stupid pet trick on YouTube. If you still haven’t thought of something that makes you laugh, take a minute and watch this clip.
Clearly, we were born to laugh, and now we know that laughter can heal emotional wounds, protect us from the ravages of stress, and help us feel connected to others.
What Happens When We Laugh?
Just as we know that anger creates a cascade of physiological reactions in our brain and body intended to help us survive, so does the expression of any emotion. It turns out that laughter (and tears, which often come together) brings about healing rather than harm to our bodies. How does it do this?
In the short term, a good case of the giggles relaxes the whole body, relieving physical tension and stress. Because we breathe more deeply, it stimulates our heart, lungs and muscles. Endorphins, the feel good hormones, get released by the brain giving us a temporary natural high. Our anxiety and fear lessen, and our mood can change quickly from upset to increased well-being.
In the long run, studies confirm that people who laugh on a regular basis have stronger immune systems, combatting the effects of daily stress. For those suffering from chronic pain, it serves as a natural painkiller. It has also been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.
Laughing With Others Is Even Better
One of the evolutionary purposes for laughter and play was to help us to connect with other people, including strangers, and thus to lower aggression and fear. Haven’t you noticed how laughter, like other emotions, is contagious?
A powerful example of just how much the world is longing for laughter is the story of Madan Kataria, now known widely as the Laughter Guru. Kataria began doing laughter yoga in Mumbai, India in 1995 with a small group of people in a public park. The practice rapidly spread worldwide, and as of 2011, there were more than 8,000 Laughter Clubs in 65 countries.
Former Monty Python comedian, John Cleese, went to India to visit Kataria to see what the fuss was all about. Based on the theory that voluntary laughter provides the same benefits as spontaneous laughter, the group begins with fake laughter that rapidly dissolves into joyful play. Cleese shares the power of his experience: “I was struck by how laughter connects you with people. It’s almost impossible to maintain any kind of distance or any sense of social hierarchy….Laughter is a force for democracy.”
Laughter also can improve the quality and resilience of our relationships with parents, partners, children and co-workers. It triggers positive feelings that help us let go of judgments, defensiveness and petty resentments. It brings us together during difficult moments, and infuses our relationships with more zest and vitality.
Build Laughter into Your Daily Life
Now that you’ve been convinced that laugher is indeed one of the best and cheapest medicines around–and one with no debilitating side effects–here’s how can you bring more playfulness and humor into your life…
Tip #1: Watch comedy for a change. If you only watch the intense, serious movies or TV shows–the ones with murder and mayhem, villains and victims, tragic characters, and terrifying scenarios–it is easy to think of the world as a place of fear and darkness. Add movies or shows that celebrate the wonders of life and that make you laugh or smile…
…there are 7 more tips for laughter, health and happiness so CLICK HERE to read them all now!