Laughter: Lighten up yourself
I remember a funny incident from when I was a volunteer worker living in India, and it often comes to mind when I catch myself getting too serious and wanting to get things right! One day I was in the office and the receptionist who was a volunteer from Australia was answering the phone. It was just after lunch when the rest of the office was usually on a long afternoon break. The person calling did not speak any English and my Australian friend spoke very little of the Indian language. In her Australian accent, she was reading from her phrase book in Hindi, “The offices are closed, call back later.” It so happened that there was a young Indian man in the office and he was falling out of his chair laughing as the receptionist kept repeating the phrase in her best Australian-Hindi accent. When she hung up, she demanded to know what was so funny. It turned out, that with her mispronunciation of the phrase, she was saying, “Everyone in the office has been shot, call again later.”
When life gets too heavy, finding the lighter perspective is the best medicine. I love watching Comedy Central’s: The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. These are the only news shows I watch, and I get enough of an idea of what is happening in the world from watching these shows. They do not have to work at making the news satirical because the news these days is satirical; at least you can take that perspective or be totally depressed by what you see and hear.
The benefits of laughter
- it feels good
- relaxes the mind and body
- reduces stress
- lowers blood pressure
- elevates your mood
- boosts your immune system
- improves the functioning of your brain
- protects your heart
- exercises the facial, abdominal, diaphragm, back and leg muscles
- increases energy and vitality
According to research, laughter helps to reduce stress hormones such as cortisol and enhances the production of infection fighting antibodies. This helps to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, boost our immune system and protect our hearts. In times of distress, humor helps us to let go of heavy emotions such as depression, anxiety, fear and anger. It is difficult to hold on to these feelings and to laugh at ourselves and the absurdity of life at the same time. Humor allows us to step out of lonesome difficult emotions, to connect with others and to share our laughter with others. When we can see the absurd, we are less likely to take ourselves and life so seriously. We have more clarity and can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem and can be a force for creative action to make the changes we envision, that are within our control.
Bringing more humor into your life
- Smile a lot, and practice gratitude for the little things in your life; you will be more inclined to see the lighter side of life.
- Laugh at yourself; keep a journal, see the funny side of your problems; you get a different perspective and you take your problems less seriously.
- Realize that there are some things that you have no control of, and let it go.
- Emulate children, they are naturally light and carefree. Dress more colorfully and keep a toy on your desk and play with it.
- Watch comedy movies, don’t forget the Marx Brothers and The Three Stooges. Watch comedians on television or DVDs.
- Read Swami Beyondananda’s daily joke on this site and subscribe to internet joke sites.
- Join a laughter yoga club if there is one in your area; they are a little structured, it might not be for you.
Here is a joke to lighten up your day
Fire swept the plains and burned down the farmer’s barn. While he surveyed the wreckage, his wife called their insurance company and asked them to send a check for $75,000, the amount of insurance on the barn. “We don’t give you the money,” a company official explained. “We replace the barn and all the equipment in it.”
“In that case,” replied the wife, “cancel the policy I have on my husband.