What comes to mind when you hear the word laughter? Probably watching a hilarious comedy, telling jokes, making pranks and so forth.
Laughter is very beneficial for your own mental and physical wellbeing. Have you ever noticed how you feel emotionally and physically after a good-hearted laugh? You feel a great sense of well-being, am I right? Nowadays, laughter is considered as a strong medicine that draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter helps strengthen the immune system, boosts your mood, lessens emotional pain and protects you from stress. To bring your mind and body back into balance, nothing works faster than a spirited laugh. Humour lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to other people and keeps you focused and alert. It also helps you release anger, as well as take a forgiving stance. Laughing provides a full-scale workout for your muscles and unleashes a rush of stress-busting endorphins. Since our body doesn’t distinguish between real and fake laughter, anything that makes you giggle will have a positive impact on your body.
I remember when I was a child, my siblings, some cousins of mine and I used to play a game in which whoever laughs first gets booted out from the game. We would form a circle facing each other and take turns at making funny faces, pranking one another or taking the mickey, while other participants did their best to suppress their laughter. The one that managed to suppress his or her laughter until the very end won. At that time, little did we know that we were unknowingly practicing ‘laughter therapy’.
These days, there are organisations and therapists that use laughter therapy as one of their interventions. This type of therapy, executed both within a group or individually, benefits clients by utilising humour which in turn helps individuals relieve pain and stress, and improve an individual’s sense of well-being. It may even be used to help individuals cope with a serious disease, such as cancer. Laughter therapy may include laughter exercises, clowns, comedy movies, books, games, and puzzles. It is also a type of complementary therapy, different from most traditional therapies.
When we were children we used to laugh countless times a day, but when we become adults, life tends to be more serious and laughter becomes more infrequent, unfortunately. But by pro-actively seeking out more opportunities for humour and laughter, you can improve your emotional health, strengthen your relationships, find greater happiness and even add years to your life.
Tips on how to develop your laughter:
- Laugh at yourself. Sometimes by sharing your embarrassing moments, it is the best way to take yourself less seriously. The more you speak about them, the less likely you are to take them too seriously.
- Attempt to laugh at situations rather than complain about them, by looking at a bad situation, and uncovering the irony or absurdity of that situation. Turning something negative into something positive, by taking a humorous anecdote, will help you feel much better.
- Surround yourself with reminders that lighten up your mood. Keep a toy or object in your workspace or in your car, or choose a screensaver that makes you laugh. Frame photos of yourself and family members having fun.
- Remember funny things that happen. If something amuses you or makes you laugh, write it down or share it with your friends every now and then, so that you will remember it.
- Find your inner child. Pay attention to children around you in order to imitate them. After all, they are the experts on playing, taking life lightly and laughing at frivolous, ordinary things.
- Don’t go a day without laughing. Think of it as exercise and make a conscious effort to find something each day that makes you laugh. Set aside 5 to 10 minutes and do something that amuses you. The more you get used to laughing each day, the less effort you’ll have to make.
My proposition to you is this: If it feels so good to laugh, why not laugh to improve your mood, health and relationships?