Bring More Laughter Into Your Life for Good Health

Monday, June 03, 2013

 “Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.”~ Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D.

     I love a good joke.  Have you heard the one, “I was going to wake up early and go jogging, but my toes voted against me 10 to 1”?  How about this one, “I started on a very strict running routine yesterday and so far I have only missed one day”?  Oh, those are some real knee slappers!  I have to admit that I’m giggling as I write this.
    You may be asking yourself, “What is up with this article”?  Laughter is what’s up.  When I sat down to write about fitness, I wanted to think of an activity to promote that was healthy, fun to do, and everyone would enjoy it.  At first it sounded impossible, but as I shared a laugh over a story with a coworker of mine it came to me, laughter is that activity!
    One of the most enjoyable and healthy things a person can do is laugh. Laughing is infectious! The sound of people laughing is more contagious than any cough or sneeze! It draws people together and increases feelings of happiness and intimacy.  It is a powerful antidote to stress and the pain of personal conflicts.  It is very possible that nothing works faster to lighten your burdens, inspire courage, connect you to others, and renew your sense of perspective more than a good laugh. When thinking about laughter, I’m amazed and excited about all the wonderful little known benefits, not only socially, but mentally and physically as well.
Strong Medicine for Your Body
     The old saying that "Laughter is Good Medicine" is literally true. Research has found that laughter relaxes tense, tight muscles and even boosts your immune system.  A good, hearty laugh has been likened to "internal jogging"—improving the function of blood vessels and improving blood flow to the heart.  
Stay Emotionally Healthy
     As good as laughter is for us physically, it is even MORE important for our mental and emotional health. Laughter gives us a respite from sadness and depressing emotions. Even in the most difficult times, a laugh, or even a smile, can make us feel better.  It has the power to help us see things in a more realistic, and less threatening light.  Having a sense of humor is essential to give us the perspective we need to keep from feeling overwhelmed.
Bring More Humor and Laughter into Your Life
     You might not think that you are very good at laughing or cultivating a light heart, but you can learn.  Laughter is our birthright as human beings. An infant begins to smile in its first weeks of life, and laughs out loud in just a few months. Even if you did not grow up in a household with plenty of laughter, you can cultivate humor and laughter at any time.  Here are some tips:

1. Smile. This is the beginning of laughter, and like laughter is contagious.  The old saying is “sow a smile, reap a smile”. Practice doing that when you see someone you know, or something that even mildly pleases you.

2. Be thankful. Giving thanks lightens your mood and increases the distance from negative thoughts and attitudes.  When you harbor those you have to travel farther to get to humor and laughter.

3. Go to others who are laughing.  Spend time with fun, playful people. And if you hear people laughing see if you can get in on the joke. Usually people will be glad to tell you what they are laughing about because it gives them the chance to laugh again, and feed off the humor you find in it. 

4. Laugh at yourself.  Share your embarrassing moments.  One of the best ways to not take yourself too seriously is to tell others about times when you definitely did!

5.  Laugh when things go wrong. Look for the humor in the situation, and uncover the ironies and absurdities of life.  It IS possible to laugh without even experiencing anything funny.

6. Copy your children or grandchildren. Children are our role models for learning how to play, take life lightly, and laugh, laugh, laugh!

     So integrate these tips into your life and you will find that your stress becomes less, your joy and creativity are enhanced, and you are living life on a higher, healthier level.  And that is no joke! ;)


Submitted by: Shannon Coley, Fitness Consultant, Bradley Wellness Center