I recently got back from vacation and started to reflect on the wonderful opportunity to share time with family and friends. One thing that stood out for me was the amount of laughter experienced. According to Merriam-Webster, laughter is a sound of laughing, a cause of merriment. From the very beginning to the very end of the road trip there were giggles, snorts, and belly laughs. Does that mean our vacation went off without a hitch? No, not at all. We had several bumps along the way, but we made the choice to be joyful.
At one point, my daughter’s friend started choking at lunch. She had food stuck in her esophagus and couldn’t breath. It was a scary experience but one made easier by staying positive. After it was all said and done, the friend stated “if I don’t laugh I will cry”. A good sense of humor can’t cure everything but it can help put things in perspective and provide a quick pick-me-up.
According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter produces short-term and long-term benefits. It stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles increasing circulation and aiding in muscle relaxation. Endorphins are released by your brain when you laugh therefore improving your mood, relieving pain, and improving your immune system.
I love to laugh and often times find my self hysterical. If you are looking to add laughter and humor into your life try these strategies suggested by Nancy Recker, Ohio State University Extension Educator and Associate Professor Emeriti:
- Recognize the value of humor.
- Don’t worry or analyze why people laugh—just participate.
- Think funny—look for the humor in every situation.
- Learn to laugh at the incongruities in life.
- Keep a notebook and jot down the funny things you hear. Do it daily.
- Adapt material. Use humor from any source. If you think nothing funny happens to you, personalize it and change it to fit you.
- Laugh at yourself. We all do stupid things. If you laugh at your mistakes, it gives others permission to do the same.
If you ask yourself “when was the last time I laughed” and you can’t remember, then it is time to get busy laughing. Dr. Michael Miller, M.D., of the University of Maryland recommends 15 minutes of laughter on a daily basis. Typically, laughter is contagious so if you are struggling to find humor in your life get out and share a laugh with a friend or family member.