6 Tips Bringing More Laughter Into Your Life
Friday, 23 July 2021
Written by Jessica Migala
To bring the funny to your life, you don’t even need to laugh out loud, says Dr. Hanna: “Just finding something funny or amusing can have the same benefits.”
Humor allows you to see things in a new and unexpected way, she explains. “It’s not about making difficult things funny or ignoring pain and suffering, but allowing ourselves to also see the lighter side of life more often as a way to release the tension and recharge our own battery.”
Given the year we’ve had, we could all gain from more moments of laughter right now, especially as we move into the uncertainty of winter. Here’s how to bring more giggles and chuckles into your every day.
1. Don’t Worry About Being ‘Funny’
The comedian Paul Osincup, who is the president of the AATH, says you don’t have to be a comedian to laugh more. “Humor is not a talent, it’s a habit,” he says. He suggests not worrying so much about being clever or funny, but instead get in the habit of seeing the humor in everyday situations. For example, if you spill your coffee, laugh about it with whomever you’re with. Here are two lines Osincup loves to use: “Now that I have your attention …” or “It’s just half and half: Half on the table, half on my lap.”
“Everything in life can be drama, horror, or comedy. How often are you looking at it as a comedy?” he says. A good place to start: Laugh, laugh, laugh. If you find something funny, don’t hold back and simply smile to yourself, but push out an audible “Ha ha!” This might feel fake at first, but after a while, you’ll release and laugh naturally more often and louder than before, he says. “The more you play with humor, you’ll get better and better at it.”
2. Curate Your Comedy Collection
“Doomscrolling” — a trendy name for the tendency to consume endless negative news — may be a habit you’ve adopted as of late, but you can change that habit. Instead, surround yourself with more humorous content.
Osincup suggests going on social media and following and liking as many pages as possible that make you laugh, “so humor will show up more often in your feeds.”
3. Take a Laugh Break
Set an alarm on your phone for a “fun break,” advises Osincup. Research in the December 2014 issue of the Journal of Business and Psychology found that a well-planned 15-minute break for humor can bolster productivity, he says.
Start off with five minutes, Osincup recommends. Watch or read something funny (like a video on YouTube, quick clip of something from late-night TV or funny article) and then set a second alarm that cues you to go back to work. And this 5 Recommended jokes to cheer up and makes you smile.
- The Deaf Debt Collector
- The Balloonist and the Programmer
- The Tiger, the Man and God
- The Genie
- The Mexican Maid
4. Try the ‘3 Funny Things’ Exercise
You’ve heard of the power of a gratitude journal, in which you write down three (or more) good things that happened that day. A humor journal might be just as impactful. Osincup points to a study published in May 2018 in Frontiers in Psychology that found that people who, at the end of the day, reflected and wrote down three amusing things that happened in the day for one week decreased depression symptoms and increased overall happiness for up to six months. “A humor journal trains you to see humor in real time,” he says.
5. Tap Laughter to Learn More
Humor can foster learning by building an emotional connection that strengthens memory, and therefore can help you understand and retain information. The stress hormone cortisol damages the area in the brain that plays a role in learning and memory (the hippocampus). But laughter — a powerful antidote to stress — helps repair that damage and makes it easier to form new memories, according to research published in the Spring 2014 issue of Advances in Mind-Body Medicine.
“Laughter is a language we all recognize, and we feel connected when we smile and laugh,” says the Michigan State University professor Stephen E. DiCarlo, PhD, who coauthored a July 2017 Advances in Physiology Education review on why laughing helps when it comes to learning and health.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Lighten Up
“While I’m a serious person and take what I do seriously, I try not to take myself seriously. I think it’s critical to be able to laugh at yourself,” Ashton writes in her book. Laughing at yourself helps you put mistakes in perspective, deal with hardships, and move past misfortunes, she explains.
Teach yourself to do that with the “What I Should Have Said” game, suggests Osincup. When something happens that’s mildly stressful and you react by being short with someone or stressed out, reflect on how you could have handled that with more humor or lightheartedness. “This trains your brain to see the humor in difficult situations, and it teaches you to let go of some of your stress,” he says.
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