“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22
If you were ever a Seinfeld fan, perhaps you remember the episode in which Jerry dates a woman and his friends point out to him that she never laughs. Instead, when Jerry says something funny, she just says in a deadpan tone, “That’s funny.” It’s quite ironic since she’s dating a comedian. And it brings me to this point: Laughter is not meant to be held in, controlled, or watered down.
Lol is so overused today that no one really means lol when they say lol! Lol. Literally. Every day, something ought to make you laugh out loud. So open your mouth. Smile big. Laugh out loud – from your belly. No clothed-mouthed laughing allowed – besides, it sounds ridiculous and makes you look constipated. I once knew a woman who always laughed with her mouth closed, like she was going to get into trouble if she really let it out. She pressed her lips together and made a little giggle noise from her throat – and sometimes when it became way too hard for her to keep it in, the laughter would push its way out through her nose, like bad snoring on the exhale.
One day, I said, “How come you laugh quiet?”
She laughed (with her mouth closed) at my question, and then said, “I hadn’t thought about it. Is that what I do?”
“Yes! And I just want you to let it out!” I replied.
“You know, when I was a kid, I got in trouble for laughing and a relative told me it wasn’t ladylike for girls to laugh loud, so I came up with a cute laugh that wasn’t so loud” she reflected.
“Do you still believe that?” I asked.
“Well, actually, no,” she said.
Laughing is healthy. And as adults, we don’t do enough of it. If you have trouble laughing, get around babies. The average baby laughs 300 times a day. The average adult? Just 20 times a day. Like smiling, laughter is a universal human language. Neurophysiologists explain that laughter activates the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain the produces endorphins. Laughter has been shown to reduce the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. It can actually boost your immune system – and your brain power. The resulting positive emotions expand your ability to learn and absorb new information. This is why speakers often start with a joke, and do well to incorporate humor into their presentations, no matter how serious the subject matter. So just how can you incorporate more laughter into your day.
Consider these ideas:
- Lighten up and laugh at yourself!
- Spend time around people who laugh.
- Watch something funny.
- Play with a baby or young children.
- Tell and listen to humorous stories and memories.
So laugh this week! Even in those moments when you may be stressed, think back to a time when you had an uncontrollable laugh, or tell yourself a joke and see how it increases your mood for the day. What do you have to laugh or smile about this week? What happy thoughts can you reflect on that can give you a genuine laugh? Leave your comments below; I’d love to hear from you!