Stress is an obnoxious thing. If not managed, it can derail your career, love life, and compromise your brainpower. It saps your energy, causes you to do irrational things, and even makes you stupid. To do away with this feeling, we do all types of irrational behaviors, such as smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, swear at our coworkers, and eat an obscene amount of junk food.
Most of this stress comes from the annoying chatter in our minds, which is filled with worries, doubts, fears, and other nonsense. What most people are searching for when they indulge in irrational behaviors is a feeling — they want a quick-fix good feeling. There’s nothing wrong with an occasional drink or indulgence of our favorite junk food. The problem is when these behaviors become addictions.
Instead of engaging in these behaviors, why don’t we use two of the greatest tools in the world to reduce stress — meditation and laughter? Both of these activities open your mind, clear away stressful feelings, and help you engage with people more effectively.
One study showed that just by seeking out experiences that make us laugh, we can lower our stress hormones. Meditation is a tool to become more conscious of the feeling of laughter that is within us. Once we come to know this emotion, we can learn to utilize it in our relationships throughout the day. Why not practice cultivating this emotion every day in meditation?
Meditation can essentially be seen as emotional weight-lifting for the mind. If we do meditation in the morning and focus on the feeling of laughter, then we can carry that feeling throughout the day. A lot of people say that when they do meditation, they feel an incredible sense of calm and happiness. But then they go through a stressful day at the workplace and they lose this feeling.
I think if we learn to hold onto the feeling of laughter inside our body, then we can interpret the world in a much more fulfilling and stress-free way. The Dalai Lama, in his book My Spiritual Journey, said, “I am a professional laugher. I have been confronted with many difficulties throughout the course of my life, and my country is going through a critical period. But I laugh often, and my laughter is contagious. When people ask me how I find the strength to laugh now, I reply that I am a professional laugher.”
What if we were to carry that same attitude throughout our day? Could you imagine how much it would improve our day? What if you went to work every day with the attitude, “I wish for everyone I meet today to find humor in their lives.” This type of training could be incorporated throughout your entire day. If you find yourself stressed out in the middle of the day, try to bring your attention back to your breathing, then work on bringing a feeling of laughter to the surface.
Find a comfortable place to sit. Bring your attention to your breathing; watch your breath as you slowly breathe in and out.
Bring your attention to your belly; breathe as if your belly is filling up with water. As you breathe, let go of any tension that you may have in your body.
Now bring up an image of something you find really funny. Then once you have that feeling, try to spread it throughout your entire body.
Then bring up another image of something you find to be hilarious. Again, work on spreading that feeling throughout your entire body.
Keep breathing and working on noticing the feeling of laughter inside your body. This simple meditation will help you to carry this feeling throughout your day. This will reduce stress, build strong relationships, and give you a greater sense of wellbeing.