Americans may give lip service to phrases like “enjoy the journey” or “stop and smell the roses” — but this culture is wired to value busy-ness & productivity over truly enjoying being alive. Relaxing and having fun is often labeled “lazy” or “goofing off” or “wasting time”.
As a part of my series about how to live with Joie De Vivre, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kim McIntyre.
Over the last 20 years Kim McIntyre has taught thousands of people how to laugh more, stress less, and feel like happy dancing! Kim is a joyful living teacher, speaker, yoga instructor, stress relief strategist, YouTuber, and Certified Laughter Leader. Through her website JoyfulBeing.com, she helps people to reclaim joy and savor the sweetness of life — even if they’ve been through unexpected tough times that have knocked the wind out of their sails.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Back in 2001, I was in the middle of a health crisis and feeling incredibly stressed out. For some emotional support, I attended a mind/body healing program where I was introduced to therapeutic play and laughter. Not only did it give me some much needed stress relief, it felt like a light switch being flipped on inside of me. I felt energized and empowered — like I had rediscovered my true joyful self. Since that time, as I re-introduce adults to their playful side, I get to see that light switch flip on inside of them too. It’s always an honor to see them shining with joy!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
It’s a story that I’ve seen repeated many many times, and every time it’s a beautiful thing. When a new student comes to my yoga class, I sit with them before class starts and go over the breathing techniques we’ll be using. More often than not, people are unaware that their breathing is shallow, which adds to their feeling stressed out. As I teach them how to deepen their breath, there’s a moment when they “get it” — they really feel how much more relaxed they are with the deeper breathing. It’s an “ah-ha!” for them. It’s such a simple thing, but it can have such a profound effect on everyday life.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
During my first year as a Certified Laughter Leader, I taught many groups of adults how to let their laughter flow. Then someone asked me to give my laughter class to a group of kids. I had no experience teaching children, but I said yes because I thought it would be fun. As it turned out, the kids did have fun — so much fun that they were bouncing off the walls! I completely lost control of the room and felt frazzled in the middle of the chaos. I was accustomed to gently encouraging groups of adults to participate — these kids needed no encouragement!!
My take-away: It’s so much easier for kids to play & be silly than it is for adults. Since then, towards the beginning of my laughter workshops, I always invite people to give themselves permission to laugh & play like they’re little kids again. Those words work like magic and I end up with a room full of big kids!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
A woman that I’d never met was instrumental in changing the direction of my career. Her name was Dierdre Brigham and she had passed away before I took the brilliant and caring program that she designed. It was an oasis of support, tools, and resources, during an incredibly stressful time when I was facing a health challenge.
Over 20 years later, I still use tools that I learned in that program. It’s also where I was introduced to the therapeutic benefits of laughter and play, which pointed me in a brand new career direction. So though I never met Dierdre, I am forever grateful to her.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The United States is currently rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?
A couple of years ago I attended an event where several big name entrepreneurs gave motivational speeches. Two of them bragged about never having time to sleep — as if their workaholism & lack of self-care was a badge of honor.
Americans may give lip service to phrases like “enjoy the journey” or “stop and smell the roses” — but this culture is wired to value busy-ness & productivity over truly enjoying being alive. Relaxing and having fun is often labeled “lazy” or “goofing off” or “wasting time”. Hundreds of years after my puritan ancestors landed on these shores, the “work is good” and “play is sloth” refrain is something I’ve had to make a conscious choice to let go of… many times! It’s the antithesis of joie de vivre. It’s also a tricky belief system that hides itself behind other admirable words, such as: success, grit, responsibility, etc. While all of those things have value, we need to remember that savoring the moment is where life’s gifts sparkle.
Can you share with our readers your 5 strategies to live with more Joie De Vivre? Can you please give a story or example for each?
5 Strategies for Living With Joie De Vivre
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?
I love the book Happy for No Reason by Marci Shimoff. It’s full of great tools and resources for lifting yourself up when life is getting you down, so you can live with more joy and happiness. (I love great tools!)
I’m also inspired by books where people go on journeys and experience personal transformations in the process. Books like Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, and Spaceman by Mike Massimino.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that relates to having a Joie De Vivre? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
There’s a famous quote that I’ve had taped up next to my yoga books for years:
Yesterday is History — Tomorrow is a Mystery — Today is a Gift, that’s why we call it The Present.
We are prone to feel more joyful when we are connecting with something that’s happening right now — a smile on a loved one’s face, a gorgeous sunset, the sound of a child laughing. There are gifts to enjoy all around us!
Reminding myself to bring my attention back to the present moment is something I do every day with gratitude.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
In all the work that I do, my intention is to uplift others. Whether I’m teaching a class, filming a youtube video, or giving an interview — I do my very best to offer valuable insights and lighthearted energy — to make a difference in someone else’s day.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes! I’m in the process of creating an online version of my laughter workshop called Laugh More Everyday. People will be able to watch at their own pace and learn how to consistently experience more uplifting laughter. Laughter has so many benefits: stress relief, pain relief, boosting your mood, connecting you with others — just to name a few! This program will inspire and empower people to fill their lives with more life-enhancing laughter & joy.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Wow! What an inspiring question! I’m imagining a powerful movement to practice giving loving kindness and compassion to our fellow human beings — especially those we may not agree with or understand. I believe that a loving kindness movement could in turn give birth to all sorts of inspired action to solve the many challenges of our times.
Thank you for these excellent insights!