Infants and newborns show signs of smiling and laughing within only a few short months of life. As we get older, however, many of us lose some of our spontaneity in smiling and laughing. Some of it can be chalked up to increased responsibility, learned habits, exposure to serious family members, or hardships in general. Unfortunately, this lack of laughter can have a negative impact on our health.
Laughter provides physical, emotional, and social benefits. Laughter’s ability to release stress and relax muscles can last up to 45 minutes after laughing is over.
- Start with a Smile: Smiling is the spark to laughter’s fire. Without a smile, a laugh can’t begin. Make an effort to smile more. Smile at others when you pass by them. Smile when you see something pleasing. Smile when you are with loved ones or friends. Make smiling a more regular part of your facial expressions throughout the day.
- Surround Yourself with Playfulness: Choose to spend time with individuals who make you laugh and who are naturally playful. Their demeanor will rub off on you and you’ll find yourself more playful and fun in the process. Children, as well as pets can provide us with amusement, entertainment, and a vehicle to lighten up and enjoy ourselves. Avoid individuals who take themselves too seriously or have a negative outlook, as they will most likely lower your laughter quotient.
- Take Yourself Less Seriously: Don’t beat up on yourself for mistakes or for doing something “wrong” or silly. Instead, share embarrassing moments with others and learn to laugh at yourself. Not only is this more attractive to others, but it will help you build a more positive attitude and relationship with yourself. You probably know an individual who takes themselves and everything in life extremely seriously. Chances are they aren’t much fun to be around. Every once in awhile, remind yourself of that person so that you can avoid emulating that type of behavior.
- Take Life Less Seriously: Although some things warrant seriousness (such as death), most things in life aren’t all that serious. Find the humor in bad or difficult situations. Look at the irony in life, and learn to find it amusing instead of upsetting. Many things in life are out of our control, especially other people and their behaviors. Let go, and laugh at those things (and people) that you find irritating, annoying, or even downright rude. This can help ease stress and improve your outlook and approach to life. Some questions to ask yourself in order to shift your perspective include: Is it really worth getting upset over this? Is it really my problem? Is it as bad as I’m making it? Is it really that important?
- Manage Stress: Stress is in constant conflict with laughter. Manage stress in healthy ways so that you can make more room for laughter.
- Build in Fun Activities: Build in more playtime into your day and do things that are fun and lighthearted. For instance, watch more comedies instead of dramas. Go to a comedy club. Read the comics in the newspaper. Host a game night with friends. Read funny books. Tell jokes and encourage others to tell jokes themselves. Ask friends what funny things have happened to them recently. Go bowling, do karaoke, play miniature golf, ride roller coasters. Act like a kid!
- When in Doubt, Fake it: No one wants to be fake, but if smiling and laughing don’t come all that naturally to you, try practicing a little bit. Fake smile and fake laugh in the privacy of your own home. The more you practice laughing, the more easily it may surface when a genuine opportunity to laugh arises.
How do you get more laughter into your day?
Adapted from 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You. Make real, lasting change with this easy to follow, week-by-week guide to healthy change. Get it now at Amazon.com.