Doctors are starting to realise that patients who think positively are less likely to have heart problems. There are powerful biological processes that take place when we laugh that we are only just starting to understand. Laughing improves our breathing, brightens up the room, cheers other people, and is good for the soul. That’s enough reason to laugh a lot, isn’t it?
How to laugh a lot
1. Learn to laugh at yourself
A sign of good self-esteem is the ability to laugh at oneself. When we make mistakes or do something embarassing, we tend to kick ourselves. Next time, try stepping outside your own skin and watch the scene as if you were a bystander. The absurdity of the situation can bring a rueful smile to to your face. Eventually you’ll smile broadly and one day you’ll just break out laughing when you goof up.
Laughing at yourself gives other people permission to do the same. Instead of awkward silences when you do something foolish, everyone will feel more at ease and start to relax. This will do wonders for your friendships and career. People like being around those who are comfortable with themselves. You’ll also like yourself more.
2. Step into the future and look back
One way to put things into perspective is to step away from the current moment. When something goes wrong, ask yourself “Will this matter five or ten years from now?”. Usually the answer is no. When we look back on our lives from our deathbeds, very few things will actually matter. If the current situation is not one of them, it’s a good candidate for laughing off.
Or ask how you’d like your children to react if the same thing happened to them. That immediately gives you a twenty-year time horizon from which to view the situation more objectively. If you’d like your children to feel stressed about it, by all means go ahead and get stressed up yourself. But if you wish your children would know that it really isn’t that big a deal, then shrug it off yourself. Your children will handle their lives much the same way as they see you handle yours. Give them laughter instead of tears.
3. Rejoice with others
It takes a big person to truly celebrate another person’s success, especially if that achievement is something you want for yourself. You can do this only when you have mastered your ego. When you are genuinely happy for another, you have transcended “I” and become part of “we”. You understand that at some level we are all one, and another person’s success and joy are yours as well.
If you’re not at that level of sainthood yet, just think of it this way. When Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile barrier, he paved the way for hundreds after him to do the same. Someone else who succeeds is showing you the way, clearing the path ahead for you to follow. When you think of it this way, you’ll find it easier to celebrate the succcesses of others.
4. Find reasons to laugh a lot
Find things to celebrate. Make a poster signed by the whole family congratulating your child for completing his first term at school. Take your spouse out for dinner when you have a good day at work. Drink a bottle of wine with friends because you’re all still alive and together. Play your favourite music loudly and dance along in your living room, because you have legs and you can.
Take nothing for granted. Everything you have now is a gift that’s merely on loan while you’re here on earth. Appreciate what you have, marvel at the miracle of life itself, and celebrate at every chance you get. You are a child of the universe, and it wants you to be happy.