Is laughter the best kind of medicine? According to some research, it is. We know that a good laugh can put us in a great mood, but those positive feelings actually come with so many more wonderful benefits for our health.
Laughter boosts your immune system by increasing the amount of antibodies in our systems, making us less susceptible to colds and flu. A hearty chortle can also lower blood pressure, lower our risks from cardiovascular diseases and reduce anxiety. Laughter also burns calories; the more you laugh, the more you burn, helping you to reach your weight-loss goals!
Here are some ideas on how you can add more laughter to your life:
Join A Laughter Club (or Start One)
Are you finding it hard to find anything funny these days? Joining a laughter club may just be the perfect thing for you — or even think about starting one if there isn’t already a club in your area. The best part about a laughter club is that you don’t need to be happy or in a good mood to begin with. The whole point of this exercise is to laugh even when you don’t feel like it, and just the act of laughing alone (whether you mean it or not) will ‘trick’ your body into feeling all the emotions that comes with it, thereby elevating your mood and sense of well-being. Furthermore, being around other like-minded people in a social event that was built for laughter can only bring more good vibes to everyone present.
Try Laughter Meditation
If being around a group of people and laughing for no particular reason makes you uncomfortable, you can try instead to do some laughter meditation on your own and in the privacy of your own home. In fact, laughter clubs were actually born out of the philosophy that stemmed from laughter meditation — the idea that if you laugh even when you are not amused or happy, that practice of laughing will eventually make you feel more positive.
Laughter meditation is a three-step process: it begins with you stretching out your body, then laughing, and ending with some quiet time. First, stand with both feet apart, and stretch your arms above your head. Rock side-to-side, then bend down and touch both hands to your feet. Move your jaw around and yawn at least twice to relax your mouth and jaw. Do this for about 2 minutes. Next, sit down (or stand). Make sure you are comfortable. Smile slightly and then start laughing lightly. Then graduate to deep laughs (from the gut). Do for between 3 to 5 minutes. Finally, Lay on the floor. Be quiet, relaxed and still. Be aware of the physical and emotional currents that come forth, and notice that thoughts that come into your head. Do this final step for about 3–5 minutes.
Seek Out Funny Stuff
Find a good comedy series or programme that you enjoy and end your evening with plenty of laughs. Read your favourite comic strip in your daily newspaper (print or online) and begin your mornings on a positive note. Surf for funny YouTube clips. Seek out a local comedy club or get tickets for the latest comedian that’s coming into town. Bottom line: choose to actively engage in the things that amuse you and you will reap the benefits.
Hang Out With Funny People
We’re not asking you to only hang out with professional comics. But there is plenty of research out there telling us that it is very important who we choose to surround ourselves with. Life is short and you should really be spending time with the people that make you laugh, and that makes you feel good about yourself and life, in general. Being in the vicinity of all that positivity and cheer can only translate into more laughter and good health. Of course, if you have friends who are comedians, that’s just a huge bonus.
Smile — Even When You Aren’t Feeling It
Granted, smiling isn’t exactly the same thing as laughing, but think of it as a gateway to it; a precursor, so to speak! Smiling can give you many of the same benefits that laughing can, and sets you up with a positive mood and frame of mind. So what if you aren’t in the mood to smile? Do it, anyway. As the saying goes, you have to fake it till you make it (as with laughter).
Learn To Laugh At Yourself
Did something that your colleagues say upset you? Did you think you made a major gaffe in front of the boss and now your life is over? While it is certainly not our intention to make light of things, it is also important not to take yourself too seriously. When confronted with criticisms or mean comments, learn to brush them off your shoulders or better yet, laugh it off! Made a mistake? That’s okay. We all do. Learn what you can from it and move on. Pick up a fun new hobby; make it something that takes you out of your comfort zone. And when you make a mistake, remember that it’s no big deal. Just laugh at yourself and go on to the next thing because remember: laughter is really good for you.
There is a choice to make in how you view things in life. Perspective matters, so rather than dwelling on the bad things, make a real concerted effort to focus on the good stuff. Some people find that making a daily list of the things that you are grateful can help keep things in perspective; you should consider giving it a go if you think it may help. It may be harder to look on the bright side at the beginning, especially if it doesn’t come naturally, but the more you practise, the easier it will become. The goal is that you get to the point where it becomes natural. Because it’s so much easier to find joy when you are feeling grateful. And with joy comes laughter. See how that works?