When I lived in India, I walked every morning in a local park, and there were always groups of people standing in circles laughing. I later discovered that they were practicing laughter yoga, an exercise involving prolonged voluntary laughter.
Why did they spend 30 minutes every morning laughing? They were lucky to discover that laughter is one of the best ways to build resilience and improve your well-being.
There are dozens of research studies highlighting the positive physical and psychological effects of laughter. One study found that social laughter releases endorphins in the brain, promoting social bonds. Neuroscientists discovered a focal pathway in the brain that causes immediate laughter when electrically stimulated, followed by a sense of calm and happiness. Another study found that humor improved the short term memory of older adults.
Laughter reduces stress hormones, improves oxygen flow, relaxes muscles, and strengthens the immune system. The list of benefits goes on and on. Laughter may have more physiological and psychological benefits than almost any other activity we can engage in (other than eating and sleeping).
So, outside of finding a regular laughter yoga class, how do you incorporate laughter into your life? Here are some suggestions:
Find Funny Friends
Value friends and colleagues who make you laugh. Seek out these friends when your resilience is running low.
Watch Comedy Shows
Whether you’re at a comedy club or watching late-night comedy on television, watch people who make you laugh. I view 10-15 minutes of the Daily Show when I need a good laugh.
Play With Children
Children laugh much more than adults. They love to be silly and aren’t yet worried about looking stupid. Playing with children reduces inhibitions and permits us to be silly as well.
Watch a Funny Sitcom or Movie
If your resilience is running low, choose a funny sitcom or movie to watch. Avoid serious dramas.
Collect Funny YouTube Videos
If you need a quick laughter boost, watch one of your favorite funny YouTube videos. My favorite is the Dover Police DashCam Confessional (Shake It Off). Even though I’ve seen it hundreds of times, it still makes me laugh every time I watch it!
How have you incorporated laughter into your life?