April 1st is traditionally known as April Fools’ Day or All Fools’ Day. It’s a day when humor reigns and harmless pranks, practical jokes, and hoaxes are sanctioned. Customary practices range from simple tricks played on friends, family, and coworkers to elaborate media hoaxes concocted for mass consumption.
As a child, I didn’t find certain April Fools’ jokes played on me as being all that funny. But as I matured and lightened up a bit, I welcomed and even anticipated the humor in the pranks that were played on me. Humor is infectious and as a physician I can honestly say that one of the best things you can “catch” from someone else is a rip roaring round of laughter. The sound of roaring laughter is far more contagious than any cough, sniffle or sneeze. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. Laughter also triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free and easy to use!
Laughter is strong medicine for mind and body
Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused and alert.
With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health.
Laughter and humor help you stay emotionally healthy
Laughter makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments and loss.
More than just a respite from sadness and pain, laughter gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope. Even in the most difficult of times, a laugh–or even simply a smile–can go a long way toward making you feel better. And laughter really is contagious. Just hearing laughter primes your brain and readies you to smile and join in the fun.
Laughing with others is more powerful than laughing alone
Humor and playful communication strengthens our relationships by triggering positive feelings and fostering emotional connection. When we laugh with one another, a positive bond is created. This bond acts as a strong buffer against stress, disagreements and disappointment.
Shared laughter is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships fresh and exciting. All emotional sharing builds strong and lasting relationship bonds, but sharing laughter and play also adds joy, vitality and resilience. And humor is a powerful and effective way to heal resentments, disagreements and hurts. Laughter unites people during difficult times.
Incorporating more humor and play into your daily interactions can improve the quality of your love relationships— as well as your connections with co-workers, family members and friends. Using humor and laughter in relationships allows you to:
- Be more spontaneous. Humor gets you out of your head and away from your troubles.
- Let go of defensiveness. Laughter helps you forget judgments, criticisms and doubts.
- Release inhibitions. Your fear of holding back and holding on are set aside.
- Express your true feelings. Deeply felt emotions are allowed to rise to the surface.
Laughter is your birthright, a natural part of life that is innate and inborn. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Even if you did not grow up in a household where laughter was a common sound, you can learn to laugh at any stage of life.
Learn to take yourself less seriously
- Laugh at yourself. Share your embarrassing moments. The best way to take yourself less seriously is to talk about times when you took yourself too seriously.
- Attempt to laugh at situations rather than bemoan them. Look for the humor in a bad situation, and uncover the irony and absurdity of life. This will help improve your mood and the mood of those around you.
- Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up. Keep a toy on your desk or in your car. Put up a funny poster in your office. Choose a computer screensaver that makes you laugh. Frame photos of you and your family or friends having fun.
- Keep things in perspective. Many things in life are beyond your control, particularly the behavior of other people. While you might think taking the weight of the world on your shoulders is admirable, in the long run it’s unrealistic, unproductive, unhealthy and even egotistical.
- Deal with your stress. Stress is a major impediment to humor and laughter.
- Pay attention to children and emulate them. They are the experts on playing, taking life lightly and laughing.
“A day without laughter is a day wasted.”- Charlie Chaplin