In my earlier post, COMIC RELIEF: THE HEALING POWER OF LAUGHTER, I presented just a few of laughter’s healing properties, including reduced blood pressure, blood sugar, stress and cortisol levels. Adding humor to our daily roster of health-supporting activities is an easy and pleasurable must-do, but how to pack more laughter into the day when tough times can seem to conspire against it? Well, spontaneous as the physical act of laughing is, you can set the stage for more humor in your life – if you know where to look. Here are 7 simple ways to put more laughter in your day:
1. Laugh with others frequently – and occasionally laugh at yourself.
Though there’s no shortage of insult-spewing stand-up comedians out there, keep in mind that they are professionals (more or less) and insults and sarcasm won’t win the amateur comedian (i.e., the rest of us) any popularity points. In every day life, at home and office, humor that fosters camaraderie, builds good will, offers perspective or amicably breaks tension is an easy way to put people at ease. Think you were born without a sense of humor? Then follow the lead of others and laugh when they do. This simple mirroring technique helped one of my patients, who’d grown up in a laugh-free culture, learn how to let loose, laugh more and eventually develop a sense of humor.
2. Spend time with funny people.
Just as laughter is infectious, so is the opposite. Now I’m not saying you should totally dump your old pal Debbie Downer, but do be aware of how much time you spend with people who aren’t particularly happy – and strike a balance. In other words, keep your spirits and health up by making an effort to split your time more evenly between friends who like to laugh and those who are chuckle-challenged.
3. Have a laugh-in.
Try a laughing meditation or laughing yoga class. Many people find these classes a totally joyful experience in part because laughing in a group adds a sense of communion and connection to the larger world – plus a nice rush of feel-good endorphins. In fact, it’s virtually impossible not to laugh in these types of classes, so like ‘em or not, give one a try and see if it puts a smile on your face. (I bet it will!)
4. Need a little comic relief, right away?
When you’re having a rough day at the office, give yourself a time out and take a humor break. Step outside for a bit of fresh air and watch a short-format comedy clip on your smart phone. Funnyordie.com is a great source of humorous videos designed to give you a few giggles in less than five minutes. YouTube.com also a gold mine of funny movie clips and comedy bits that can help bust the stress of the day – and help you face the rest of it in a better frame of mind. My personal fail-safe funny guys? Just about any clip featuring Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Chris Rock, Monty Python or the Marx Brothers.
5. Laugh all the way to the office.
One of my patients added lots more laughs to his day – and radically reduced his stress levels – by making the simple switch from 24-hour news radio to comedy radio. He found that comedy radio lifted spirits and put him at ease, particularly when he engaged in less-than-fun activities such as driving to work in traffic. Now he arrives at the office relaxed, ready to take on the day and better able to laugh at life’s little irritations.
6. Build up your humor reserves.
Fill your DVR or TiVo with shows that really make you laugh. My wife and I have a ritual of watching Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert every evening after dinner and Bill Maher on the weekend. They always make us laugh and I find it’s a great way to unwind at the end of the day as a couple.
7. Get to know the greats.
When time permits, watching a classic, funny movie is a sure-fire, fast-acting stress-buster. Though all of us have our own idea of what strikes us funny, with the help of On Demand, Netflix, Hulu and the old fashioned video store, most of us are never more than a few moments away from a funny, mood-lifting movie. For inspiration and hours of giggle-inducing ideas, take a look at Bravo’s Top 100 Funniest movies list http://www.imdb.com/list/
And remember, in the words of Mark Twain, “Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our irritation and resentments slip away and a sunny spirit takes their place.” So laugh daily and enjoy the ride!