Have You Forgotten How to Laugh?
If you are like me, one of the best sounds to hear is a nice long belly laugh. I mean the kind where normally the person is kind of quiet, reserved, or maybe even a little grumpy, and all of a sudden something strikes them and they laugh so hard and so long that they snort. Even better, they suddenly have to run to the restroom to avoid an accident.
I may be a bit weird, well not maybe, I am a little weird, but I’m sure that there are many people who can relate to this wonderful sound. It brings this wonderful, contagious joy which results in your involuntary participation. You can’t help but join them in laughter!
Even better, how about that feeling you get when you laugh. The tickle in your belly, the jolt of fresh energy, the flutter of increased heart beats, and when it’s all done, a refreshed and calmed spirit. For that brief moment of laughter, you forget any pain you’re in, any illness you are fighting, any stress you may have, any deadlines you have pending, any drama you’ve been avoiding.
"Your body cannot heal without play. Your mind cannot heal without laughter. Your soul cannot heal without joy." -Catherine Rippenger Fenwick
One statistic published in an article from University of Kentucky said, “On average a child laughs 300 times a day while an adult laughs only 17 times a day.”So what is it about aging that seems to reduce the amount of laughter we experience?
While I may not know scientifically what causes that to decline, I can only assume that it’s partially related to how we deal with daily stressors and our lifestyle. Of course as we age, we endure more challenges, we experience more pain, we are responsible for more commitments and, overall, we are just worn down.
Taking a look at those possible reasons for the decline in laughter, let’s look at some of the interesting benefits of laughter, based on the same research article:
An atmosphere of humor results in better patient cure, less anesthesia time, less operating time, and shorter hospital stays.
Laughter can make you more attractive to friends, family, and the opposite sex. (How about that for a way to keep your marriage fresh, all you have to do is laugh more!)
Laughing burns calories! According to this research, laughing for 10 minutes each day can burn the same number of calories as a 30 minute workout! (I can hear my training clients now: “So does that mean I can watch a funny movie to make me laugh instead of going to my work out?” Me: “I don’t think so. Nice try.”)
Immune system: Clinical studies by Lee Berk at Loma Linda University have shown that laughter strengthens the immune system by increasing infection-fighting antibodies.
Brain Function: Laughter stimulates both sides of the brain to enhance learning. It eases muscle tension and psychological stress, which keeps the brain alert and allows people to retain more information. (How about that leaders, teachers, and parents? Add humor to your lessons and maybe your staff, students, and children will absorb it better!)
Now that we understand some of the reasons laughter is beneficial, what are some ways you can expand your humor and learn how to laugh again?
Observe children at play and take notice of how they find joy and amusement in some of the most ordinary things.
Go to a comedy club, watch comedic movies, read joke books, and listen to comedy radio instead of the news.
Take a routine 5-10 minute humor break each day to do some of the things listed above.
If you hear or see something you really like, record it on video, or write it down. Reference it later when you need a good laugh.
Spend time with positive, happy people. Look for the humor all around you.
Stay positive with your comments. Train your brain to speak life, joy, and positive affirmations. If you have to speak negative, consider “sandwiching” your comment with starting with a positive statement, addressing the difficult topics, and finishing with another positive statement. The “sandwich” approach is good in all conflict situations, including with family, co-workers, students, friends, etc.
Claim your purpose. Seek to know why you are here, and what you are supposed to do about it. We are all designed for a great purpose; don’t waste your time, talents, and energy by focusing on negative things.
I have found the days that I focus on these basic principles; my overall sense of well being is much improved. I also have found that my family and friends actually like to be around me on those days too. I call that a win-win for sure!
Check out this awesome video for more laughing inspiration! Comment below on memories or jokes that when you recall them, they always make you laugh!