I should have called this blog, Believe, Dream, Love, and Laugh. Laughter is proven to have scientific benefits to help us feel good and release stress.
Here are just a few of the benefits as outlined by Melinda Smith, M.A., Gina Kemp, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.:
· Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
· Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
- Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
- Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
Basically, we all need to find ways to lighten up. I find it sad when people take life too seriously and can’t laugh at life or themselves. Let me tell you, when my friends and colleagues make fun of my quirks and idiosyncrasies, I can laugh so hard I almost cry. Fortunately, I am filled with quirkiness so there’s lots of laughter because I embrace these qualities and am not embarrassed by them.
· I tend to say “I LOVE that song!” after about 80% of the songs I hear. My friends sometimes roll their eyes and make sure they tell me “you say that after almost every song!”
· I now love “elevator” music and sometimes hear myself singing along when listening to this music at the doctor’s office, in elevators or at the grocery store. I don’t care that some consider it “old people’s music” or if people don’t like my singing. I’m not claiming to be Beyonce people. And, what is wrong with liking Gordon Lightfoot and Carly Simon????
· I frequently do not pronounce the “h” when saying the words “huge” or “humour.” My colleagues get a real kick out of this.
· I use the words “jazzy,” “breezy,” “magical,” “extravaganza,” “enchanting,” or “whimsical” more so than most people. I also use derivatives of these words (which may not even be real words, but I don’t let that stop me!) like “jazzerific,” “breezerific” or “whimsy.” Nothing makes me happier than when I hear my friends and colleagues inadvertently using these words at work! That’s a big old boost to my immune system right there!
· To amuse myself I create ideas for workplace reality shows. Some examples include a show called “Meeting Crashers” which is modelled after the popular Wedding Crashers movie. This program would show people at work bursting into meetings they didn’t belong in and staying in the meeting to endure boredom and the exchange of non-relevant information…comedy would naturally ensue (note: this would, of course, be a Canadian show...this is no Jersey Shores...although it would be interesting if we could add some of its artistic and deeply profound elements...).
· My other show idea is “Struggling for Coherence”. It would be a show about incoherent workers who go through the work day “struggling for coherence” in their lacklustre 9 – 5 insurance/finance/insert name of your profession here, existence…once again, who WOULDN’T want to watch people working who can barely get through the day????
I could go on and on telling you about different aspects of my personality which crack me up, but I think at this point you’re probably quite bored with this article and let’s face it, you likely don’t find me that funny. I’m cool with that. Fortunately God has given me the ability to laugh at my own non-funny jokes, and that gets me through some tough times.
The key is to find what makes you laugh and add more of that to your day. Now let me be clear, I’m not advising that you laugh or make fun of others in a cruel way. As I wrote about in Put a Little Love in Your Heart, that is like turning a knife on yourself. What you give in life, you get back so making fun of others, will have a negative impact on you. And, you can be sure that life will find a way to teach you empathy and compassion.
What I’m talking about is embracing the light side of life on a regular basis. I am currently reading Tina Fey’s “Bossy Pants” and I find it laugh out loud funny. You may not like it so find something you do like. For example, you may like to watch a sit com, a funny movie, or maybe political satire like Rick Mercer or Jon Stewart. Everyone's sense of humour is different (did you hear me pronounce the "h" when I said "humour?").
You can still be an intelligent, professional and respected person if you laugh. In fact, I would argue, your ability to laugh at yourself and lighten up will actually attract people to you. People like being around happy people and they tend to trust them more. So, if you want to improve your relationships with your co-workers, your customers, your potential customers, AND improve your health, then learn to laugh. It’s free, fun and enchanting!