Laughter is a birthright, a natural part of life. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born.
Humor helps us stay emotionally healthy as long as it is not as someone else’s expense. (laughing at someone)
A healthy sense of humor is related to being able to laugh at oneself and one’s life. Laughing at oneself can be a way of accepting and respecting oneself. Lack of a sense of humor is directly related to lower self esteem. (Note that laughing at oneself can also be unhealthy if one laughs as a way of self degradation.)
o Mental Health Benefits of Laughter
o Humor enhances our ability to connect with others.
o Humor helps us replace distressing emotions with pleasurable feelings. You cannot feel angry, depressed, anxious, guilty, or resentful and experience humor at the same time.
o Humor changes behavior – when we experience humor we talk more, make more eye contact with others, touch others
o Humor increases energy, and with increased energy we may perform activities that we might otherwise avoid.
o Finally, humor is good for mental health because it makes us feel good!
Social benefits of humor and laughter
Can we get through this hardship together. Humor binds us together, lightens our burdens and helps us keep things in perspective. One of the things that saps our energy is the time, focus and effort we put into coping with life’s problems including each other’s limitations. Our families, our friends and our neighbors are not perfect and neither are our marriages, our kids or our in-laws. When we laugh together, it brings us closer together instead of pulling us apart.
Remember that even in the most difficult of times, a laugh, or even simply a smile, can go a long way in helping us feel better
o Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.
o Humor unites us, especially when we laugh together.
o Laughter heals.
o Laughs and smiles are enjoyed best when shared with others.
o To laugh or not to laugh is your choice.
If laughter is the best medicine, where is the pharmacy where we can fill our prescriptions?
Eventually, we want to incorporate humor and laughter into the fabric of our lives, finding it naturally in everything we do.
Here are ways to start.
o Smiling is the beginning of laughter. Like laughter, it’s contagious.
o Count your blessings. Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the good things in your life will distance you from negative thoughts.
o Spend time with people who have successfully incorporated humor into their lives.
Incorporating humor into everyday life
I work at home and in my apartment complex there are two small children who live upstairs. When I need a boost, Grace and Joe will come down and we either color, take the dogs for a walk, go for ice cream…I always end up laughing and it always helps me.
Making paper dolls and doll clothes, laughing and playing pretend with the little children transformed my life. It sparks my imagination, helps my creativity flourish, brightens my outlook, and best of all rekindles my playful side.
Some events are clearly sad and not occasions for laughter. But most don’t carry an overwhelming sense of sadness or delight. Most fall into the gray zone of ordinary life, and they give us the choice to laugh or not.
One characteristic that helps us laugh is not taking ourselves too seriously. We’ve all known the classic tight-jawed sourpuss who takes everything with deathly seriousness and never laughs at anything. No fun there.
Here are some ways we can lighten up..
o Dress less seriously.
o Keep a toy on your desk or in your car.
o Laugh at yourself. Share your embarrassing moments. The best way to take ourselves less seriously is talk about times when we took ourselves too seriously.
o Pay attention to children and emulate them. They are the experts on playing, taking life lightly, and laughing.
Checklist for lightening up
When you find yourself taken over by what seems to be a horrible problem, ask these questions:
* Is it really worth getting upset over?
* Is it worth upsetting others?
* Is it that important?
* Is the situation irreparable?
Is it really my problem?
Humor can be used as a weapon to belittle others or “score points” in some fashion. Use humor with care by being mindful of the following.
* Use humor at the expense of yourself or a group you are part of, rather than at someone’s else’s expense.
* Don’t use humor when someone else is in so much pain that humor will not make them feel better. When someone is physically injured, suffering a serious crisis, or when you are attending a somber event, such as a funeral, humor, no matter how clever or well-intended, will not make people feel better.
* Use humor that everyone present can enjoy. Inside jokes can make people feel excluded. Adult humor in the presence of children is unhealthy for the children, troublesome for their parents or guardians and thoughtless on the part of the would-be comedian.
Janie Behr is a qualified life coach specializing in helping people find their purpose, achieve their goals, and explore all the possibilities that life has to offer. She is available for private individual coaching, group coaching and public speaking engagements. She runs frequent teleseminars dedicated to helping people find and live their most positive lives! For more information please visit http://www.jblifecoach.com
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