We don’t always feel like laughing. Life is tough, and we all face an ongoing stream of challenges. But did you know that you can create happiness? We’ve all heard the phrase “fake it ‘til you make it”, and in nothing is this more viable than for our emotions. The mind and body communicate constantly, so our mind can infer our emotions based on our actions just like an observer would. Therefore, you can actually intensify an emotion by physically expressing it. So, what better way to improve your mental health than through laughter?
Laughter strengthens your immune system, burns calories, boosts mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you release anger, forgive sooner, and may even help you live longer. Unfortunately, research shows that at about the age of 23, our propensity to laugh begins to evaporate. We really don’t gain those laughs back until we are in our 70s. But 50 some-odd years seems like an awfully long time to reclaim one of life’s most precious gifts. Which is why, like all muscles, the “use it or lose it” principle applies.
The greatest way to invite laughter back into your life is to learn to laugh at yourself and your circumstances. Most of us take ourselves too seriously, significantly limiting 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. Laugh more in your conversations with others and find ways to invite others to do the same.
The more that we immerse ourselves in humor – not by chance but by choice– we start priming ourselves for more positivity in our lives. By seeking out more opportunities for humor and laughter, you can improve your emotional health, strengthen your relationships, and find greater happiness. How do you work to invite laughter into your life? Share your ideas in the comments below!