The best medicine
Did you know that kids laugh 300 – 400 times per day and adults less than 20? (actually that’s not completely true, and potentially not even possible, at least for the kids, since that would mean they’d have to laugh about every 1-2 minutes from sunrise till sunset. And that also seems rather low for adults. No matter, really; the point is that children laugh way more than adults do.) . I’ve also read that we as adults laugh less often now than did adults of 20 years ago. This sort of progression is not really that … progressive, if you ask me. Granted, adults have a lot more stressors to deal with (what’s for dinner, what grades our kids are getting, their shoes are tight after only 4 months, the plants in the yard are dying, the dog is shedding excessively, there is a weird smell in the hallway, the car needs something because it is clicking and making weird noises, the grocery list is SO long, there is terrible traffic AGAIN, the ink in the printer is smearing, … you know what I mean), and granted the kids have less responsibilities than do adults but … how did we get to this semi-somber state? And what can we do to get back to the random laughter every 1 – 2 minutes?
Let’s start with this: WHY should you laugh more?
Laughter is, actually, good medicine. It helps soothe your stress levels and reduce immediate tension. It can actually increase your intake of oxygen, thereby increasing endorphins to your brain. It can help relieve pain and improve your immune response. Quite literally, it works wonders chemicals cannot: reducing and fighting pain of acute and long-term ailments like arthritis, autoimmune diseases, and more. It can improve your personal satisfaction and … make you happier and in a more positive frame of mind. Laughing helps you put things into perspective, and keeps one from taking things too seriously, which is very much a good thing when one is feeling over-run with tasks or with work. Laughter increases your sense of well-being, and even literally helps keep you well by increasing the efficacy of your T-cells.
I also read online that laughing a lot can ‘help tone your abs,’ though I have to say, if this is the only kind of ‘exercise’ you are doing to tone your abs you likely aren’t going to be seeing 6-pack results any time soon. But good for you for doing something; that one thing is better than nothing.
A favorite quote (article linked below): Think about it. If others around you are laughing, you’re absorbing their upbeat vibes. It’s kind of like second-hand smoke. You get almost the same effect as if you were the one laughing.
I’ve never thought about it before, but laughter IS indeed a lot like second-hand smoke … but with much better benefits.
Move on to: HOW should you laugh more?
It’s easy for me to say ‘just don’t be stressed’… but that’s not always completely realistic, is it? We also know that while the knock, knock jokes of our youth are probably pretty corny, they are also something you’ve heard before.
Be with people more. Both adults and children laugh primarily during social interactions with others. Consequently, the frequency of laughter at any age depends on how much time an individual spends interacting with others. Kids Do actually laugh more because they are usually with people most of the day, and most people laugh when they are with other people. When you're in the office, alone with your computer, you are less likely to laugh, unless, I guess, you are looking at joke website. I’m sure there are some. Humans generally are social creatures, and laughter is contagious.
Decide to laugh more. I know, I know. Just as soon as you command yourself to, you’ll start laughing, right? It’s not that easy, right? But, actually, it is. Or can be. Resolving to laugh more, to have a lighter heart, and a have a better outlook is something you can focus on as a goal, as odd as that may sound. It can work though, just as one can resolve to eat healthier or exercise more. Laughing more is a goal toward a healthier lifestyle.
Decide to smile more. No, this is not just a repeat of the same paragraph above. Smiling – even fake smiling – can have a positive effect on your mood and your attitude. And the reaction of others towards you. So people are nicer to you when you smile, creating a feel-good cycle. Plus, you look better when you smile (studies show! Really, I’m not just being vain!), and this can improve your frame of mind, as well.
Deliberately put things in your life that make you smile. A joke-a-day calendar, read the funnies, make friends with funny people, watch comedians, or funny shows or movies. Make an effort to be around funny things and people. Often.
Make a concerted effort to laugh with your partner-in-life. Go on date night, connect over things you both enjoy, tell each other (corny) jokes. Read Calvin & Hobbes together, watch a funny movie … just connect.
Hang out with the little people. Kids are funny, and they have a way of enjoying life that we forget as we get older. Rekindle some of that youthful humor by spending more time with little people – your own, your friends’, your neighbors’. Just be around them more, and let some of their delight rub off on you.
Get a dog. I admit, I am a dog person, although there are some kitties I am extremely fond of. But nothing bring joy as effectively as the boundless enthusiastic adoration given to a human by a dog.
Schedule game nights with your friends. No, not naked poker (unless that really makes you laugh). Whatever game you like that you can do with a group of your buddies.
Be an ‘old’ dog who learns a new trick. You’ll not only learn a new skill – because, I promise you, it’ll come – but you will also have fun while learning it, and probably a few giggles along the way, as some of your initial attempts might be, well, funny.
Laughter shouldn’t peak at 5 years of age. Go forth, and frolic. Go giggle like mad. Laugh with abandon. Just enjoy life; it’s good for your health.
"You don't stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop laughing."—Michael Pritchard
Some things to make you laugh: