In our 2022 world, with all the negative going on in the world at large and our lives at present, we all need reminders to look for happiness. With Laughter Day on May 1st, this being Mental Health Awareness Month, and wrapping up with Smile Day on May 31st, we are reminded to consciously choose a pattern of happiness throughout the month of May.
How do we do this when so many things feel out of our control? The fastest way to cheer yourself up is through laughter. It’s healthy, free, quick, and easy. One minute of laughing burns the same number of calories as 6 to 10 minutes on a treadmill. It improves positive emotion, strengthens the immune system, stimulates cognition, reduces stress, and improves positive coping. Here are a few ways to incorporate laughter into your daily life.
Learn to laugh at yourself. Most of us take ourselves too seriously, which limits our ability to find humor in difficult situations. This mindset can make us uptight and overly sensitive to what others may be thinking of us. Learning to laugh at yourself takes some of the pressure off, and it will allow you to be more authentic and vulnerable. Give yourself permission to be silly and look for the funny side of things. Humor is a great way to deal with adversity and can even turn a negative into a positive.
Laugh while you talk. Most of us think of laughter as a spontaneous reaction to something funny, but that’s not always the case. It’s actually been found that speakers laugh more than listeners do, so add in a little laugh when you talk, and make an effort to laugh back when you hear someone laughing. If you’re worried about this feeling insincere, try adding small bits of humor into your conversations such as juxtaposition, unexpected answers, or calling back to an old joke.
Try laughter yoga. Humor can certainly make us laugh, and laughing can make things humorous. But based on research, it’s clear that they can occur separately too, and laughter without humor can still make you feel happy. This is what laughter yoga is all about. There’s no hard yoga poses involved, only a range of playful movements and exercises. There’s many videos to walk you through it online, but you are simply trying to make yourself laugh. For example, you could sing the birthday song but replace the words with hee-hees, ha-has, and ho-hos. While the exercise may feel awkward at first, participants typically lose their inhibitions and at least start chuckling.
The old saying “laughter is the best medicine” really is true. It doesn’t matter whether we’re laughing with others or by ourselves, or even what we’re laughing at – what matters is that we’re laughing. Laughter doesn’t miraculously make the bad things stop, but instead reminds us to choose to bring happiness into our lives. Take the time to find laughter in the little things every day, to increase your well-being, your positivity, and your happiness.