Laugh to Be Happy and Healthy?

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Laughter is powerful. In fact, research has shown that the health benefits of laughter are far-ranging.

Laughter can evoke emotion - like when you hear someone else laugh, you might even start to laugh (and feel better) - and can create both conscious and subconscious, positively-charged, deep-seeded physiological benefits when we laugh ourselves.

Kids laugh about 400 times a day; adults only about 15 times. What's wrong with this picture? We, as adults, must laugh more - both to be happier and to be healthier.

Beyond that, when laughter is shared with others, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. Laughter is also a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict.

Laughter and, really, humor in general can improve the quality of your relationships by allowing you to be more spontaneous, let go of defensiveness, release inhibitions, and express your true feelings.

Yes, laughter makes us feel better emotionally, but it's much more than that. Laughter can also make us healthier and can help reduce our chances of illness and disease.

It can even help us live longer.

There is the somewhat famous story about Norman Cousins (the well-known prominent political journalist, author, professor, and world peace advocate) and how he "cured" himself of heart disease and a severe form of arthritis, mostly by laughter.

Others claim they have been cured of cancer and other terminal illnesses, at least partly through laughter.

Some of the positive physiological effects of laughter are:

  • Helps to reduce stress
  • Enhance the immune system
  • Strengthen cardiovascular functions
  • Oxygenate the body by boosting the respiratory system
  • Improve circulation
  • Tone muscles
  • Help with digestion and constipation

Yes, the curative powers of laughter have been well documented. Just as important is the concept that laughter makes anyone happier. Try it. Be like a child. Laugh more and laugh often. You really can learn to laugh at any stage of life.

Here’s how:

First, it’s important to set aside time specifically to focus on funny stuff, as you may do with your exercising or other activities, and build from there. Eventually, you’ll want to incorporate humor and laughter into your entire life, making it part of everything you do.

Here are some specific strategies to make that happen:

  • Smile. Smiling is the starting point of laughter. Like laughter, it’s contagious. Experts in “laugh therapy” find it’s possible to laugh without even experiencing a funny event. The same holds for smiling. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling.
  • Count your blessings. Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the good things in your life will distance you from negative thoughts that are a barrier to humor and laughter. When you’re in a state of sadness, you have further to go to get to humor and laughter.
  • When you hear laughter, move toward it. Sometimes humor and laughter are private, a shared joke among a small group, but usually not. More often, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s funny?”
  • Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily–both at themselves and at life’s absurdities–and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious.
  • Bring humor into conversations. Ask people, “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today? This week? In your life?”

One essential characteristic that also helps us laugh more is not taking ourselves too seriously. Lighten up. Sure, life can be tough, but there are always ways to reduce that stress and take life (and yourself) less seriously. For example…

  • Laugh at yourself. Laugh at the times when you messed up. Admit your failures and embarrassing times.
  • Laugh at tough situations rather than complain about them. Find humor in a bad situation and realize how crazy life can be.
  • Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up. Have a digital frame constantly running with pictures of funny, happy times. Put a humorous picture up where you spend a lot of time, like your home or office.
  • Keep things in perspective. Most things in life are not “life or death” situations. In fact, most things, if put in their proper perspective, are much less serious than we make them out to be. Don’t worry … be happy!
  • Deal with your stress. Life is stressful. Learn to manage your stress and laugh more.
  • Notice how children act. They are the experts on playing, taking life lightly, and laughing.
  • Fake It: Studies show that smiling causes positive effects within us, whether the smile is fake or real. Similarly, faked laughter also does the same thing. Our brain can't distinguish between 'fake' laughter and 'real' laughter that comes from true humor, so the physical benefits are the same. So smile and laugh more, even if you have to fake it. It will make things better, and probably lead to more ‘real’ laughter as well.

BeHappy! my friends

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BeHappy! my friends


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