When’s the last time you filled the prescription for this medicine and didn’t need to go to a doctor or a pharmacy to get it?
When’s the last time you took a powerful medicine that helped your entire body, mind, and spirit and it didn’t cost a dime?
When’s the last time you had a really good laugh?
Sometimes your laughter is part of a connection you’re making with someone else; sometimes it comes from a mistake you made and you simply chose to laugh at the situation.
Here’s the thing: You get to choose how much you laugh and what you laugh at. I’m not suggesting you dismiss important things with a laugh. But what about the things you may be taking just a little too seriously? Like your ego? Like your need to protect and defend your pride? Like mistakes you make?
In all the adventures I’ve had, I’ve found that laughter is one of the best prescriptions for reducing stress.
Stress and joy cannot co-exist. It’s impossible.
When you’re enjoying a belly laugh, having a good time, the Stress Response is shut down. Because it reduces stress, laughter positively affects all aspects of being. Even just smiling has been shown to lower stress levels.
Physiologically, laughter enhances your natural defenses against illness.
Mentally, it enhances problem-solving skills and offers new perspectives.
Emotionally, it elevates mood and counteracts depression symptoms.
Socially, laughter fosters better communication and improves cooperation and empathy between people.
Spiritually, it helps you build resilience to stress and teaches you to live and be at peace with others.
Laughter truly is the best medicine, as the old column in Reader’s Digest always told us. The problem is we don’t laugh nearly enough. We’re so serious! And if you’ve ever been the butt of a joke, the target of bullies, or on the receiving end of ill-willed sarcasm, you know that there’s a difference between being laughed at and laughed with. So the type of humor counts, too.
How can you invite more positive humor into your life? Here are three ways you can embrace laughter and reap the rewards of lightening up a bit:
1) Love your smile, love your laugh. Don’t be afraid to show the world your smiling face. One friend would cover her mouth or keep her smile small because she didn’t like her teeth. Another would hold back his laugh because he thought it sounded dorky. Let it out!
2) Seek out the funny. Spend time with funny people. Make it a daily task to laugh. YouTube, your pet, your funny friend, a comedy night—whatever! Balance the seriousness of life with the lightness of laughter.
3) Play pretend. Do you remember building forts, going on expeditions in the back woods, or exploring with friends when you were a kid? Time disappeared and fun was the currency; we had no choice but to be right where we were. Give yourself permission to play this week, and tap that childlike wonder again.
Laughter and good-humor are infectious, just like negativity. Which would you like more of? Making it a point to counteract challenging moments in your day with a little levity is a practice that can change the overall tone of your entire day, week, or month.
Get the Nerve!