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The Laughter Pill
An excerpt from Serious Laughter
By Yvonne Conte
Whether you sell babushkas or Buicks raise farm animals or children, perform brain surgery or stand up comedy, stress is out to get you! We all know what it's like. We work from 8 to 5 rush to pick up the kids from daycare. We take Johnny to soccer and Susie to dance lessons and have dinner on the table by six! Deadlines loom, restrictions stand in our way, due dates approach! Cars break down, babies cry, kids slam doors, cats pee on the rug and dryers eat socks every single day. We all face stressful situations every single day. The difference in how we live our lives is in how we handle what happens to us.
Stress is not an event it is our reaction based on our perception of the event." The good news is we are free to alter our perception! There is a better way to handle the craziness. How about just laughing that stress away? Laughter will lower your blood pressure and heart rate, elevate your mood, build confidence, promote teamwork, encourage problem solving, prevent burnout, reduce fear and even further promote good health! Laughter helps us cope with what happens in our lives. Recently, I agreed to drop off my son at a halfway point so he could be a part of his father's family reunion. I called my former sister-in-law to get directions. As luck would have it my ex-husband answered the phone. After 20 years of being my "ex" you would think he could handle giving me directions over the phone. Instead he called to his sister to do the chore, "Marie, it's the plaintiff!" I am still referred to as the plaintiff? You have to learn to laugh at this kind of behavior or you can drive yourself crazy. Was that any way to address the mother of his children? No. Was it funny? Yes, I believe it was. I justify it this way: if that were a scene on last night's situation comedy, I would have laughed. Almost everything that happens to us would be funny if it happened to someone else. We have to learn to see the absurdities in our everyday life and laugh them off. It really is a choice. Do I want to get stressed out over this or do I want to find the humor in it and laugh it off?
How we react to what happens in our day has to do with how we feel about ourselves. And how we feel about ourselves has everything to do with how we perceive a situation to be. Our perception of the situation, how we really see it, determines how we react to it. If we can change our perception, we can change our reaction and in the end change the results.
Let's take a look at how we got all stressed out in the first place. How do we get from happy go lucky children to nervous frightened adults? Research from the book of American Averages tells us that children laugh on an average of 400 times a day! By the time we reach adulthood we reduce our laughter to only 15 times a day! If laughter and humor is so important to our mental and physical health, then we had better find out how we got from a hearty 400 to only 15 laughs per day. We had better find out how we can get back to laughing our way to good health. By the time a child is only three years old he or she has heard "NO" 350 thousand times! "No!" "Put that down!" "Don't touch that!" "Stop it!" "No! No! No!" All this negativity... no wonder we stop laughing.
Think about when your children were babies or being around babies in general. What is the first thing we all attempt to do when we pick up a tiny baby? If you said, "make the baby laugh or smile" you are among the majority. We all make goofy faces and weird noises to try to get the baby to laugh or smile and then when the little one does we praise. "Good baby!" The baby grows to be a cute little toddler and again we reinforce that laughter is good and right. When our toddlers do anything remotely funny we laugh and once again let it be known that we appreciate that wonderful sense of humor... until this child gets to be about eight or nine years old. Then when he or she starts to act silly we say, "What's so funny young man?" "Wipe that silly smile off your face little girl!" "You better straighten up and act like a lady." "Grow up." "You'll never be successful unless you get serious." "No one respects a wise guy!" "Quit acting so silly!!!" We are teaching our young people that in order to be successful, in order to gain the respect of our peer group, we had better be dead serious! I don't know about you, but I don't want to be anything that starts with DEAD!
We really need to look at and reassess the messages we are sending our children about laughter and humor. Our children's sense of humor will either blossom as he or she grows older or it will begin to wither away. Please don't let it wither away! They then become that horribly stiff person in the office who just can't have fun. This is the person who, to be politically correct, is "Humor Impaired". He is too busy being important to laugh. He is the guy or gal who always has to rule the roost. The problem is by ruling the roost all the time we get so stressed out, all we end up doing is laying big fat eggs that everyone else in the roost has to clean up. The serious people in our lives are often seen as distant, negative, arrogant or intimidating. Do you want others to read that from your face as you walk the office hallways? Is that what you want the people to think of you when you push your cart down the isle at the store? If you are not distant, negative, arrogant or intimidating, then quit looking so serious! There was a time in my life when people would ask, "What's wrong?" and I would answer, "Nothing, Why?" The response would always be the same, "You look mad." I wasn't mad yet I looked angry all the time. I was just preoccupied with worry and my face told the story. I think it is important to inform your face that you are happy. Even while you have situations to take care of that may not be the most fun to have to handle. Try to play the part of a happy person on the outside and it will make a difference as to how you feel on the inside. Angels fly because they take themselves lightly! If you want to fly, lighten up!
Reintroduce yourself to your sense of humor. Be silly once in a while. Reconnect with the child in you. Find your joy. Your health depends on it. Start at home. Tuck a lottery ticket into your significant others brief case, pocket or lunch. Take your granny to lunch for no reason. Buy flowers for a stranger. Mow your neighbors lawn. Walk down a busy street and put quarters in parking meters that are about to expire. Fold someone else's laundry. It really is wonderful to do these things. It will put you in such a great mood. Take fun seriously. You can stop the world's worst day dead in it's tracks by doing something just for the pure joy of it.
Remember, you can be as happy as you decide to be. If your life isn't what you think it should be, try to see it from a funny perspective. "I call my doctor up. Told him I had diarrhea. He put me on hold! Story of my life... no respect." - Rodney Dangerfield