Feeling down? Positive Psychology Coach Lesley Lyle believes that laughter holds the key to happiness. Usually, we laugh because we’re happy, but the latest scientific research suggest that through the act of laughing, we can make ourselves happy.
‘Yesterday was not a good day. I know really, days are neither good or bad, it’s just our perception, but that’s how it felt. I had several unpleasant tasks to do, emails to write and I started the day ‘out of sorts’.
Luckily I recognized the warning signs that I could, if not careful, talk myself into having a rotten day with mood to match. So I did what any sensible person would do; I enlisted the help of a good friend who always makes me feel better. That friend was laughter.
The latest scientific research suggests that when we laugh we change our brain chemistry and we feel better. The wonderful news, if you didn’t already know, is that our body doesn’t differentiate between that joyful, spontaneous laughter that you share with friends when you are enjoying yourself, and laughter done as a simple exercise. You can laugh even when you feel miserable and if you persist you will significantly improve your mood.
I have been practicing laughter as an exercise for several years and I have the advantage of knowing, without doubt, that this works. But the great thing about Laughter Yoga is anyone can do it and improve their day. You may not end up feeling euphoric but you will certainly feel better than when you started.
Try these 6 simple exercises to positively improve your mood. You might feel a bit awkward at first but if you are on your own it doesn’t really matter does it? And once you get your ‘happy chemicals’ going you might no longer care. Try to achieve at least 3 minutes of laughter, loud and hearty laughter is the most effective. You can repeat them more often if you wish.
1. Begin by taking a laughter shower or bath. Experiment with different laughter sounds as you wash each part of your body. Pretend that you are extremely ticklish if it helps.
2. Decide that you will laugh every time you make a mistake – dropping something, forgetting something, bumping into something. You may be surprised how much laughter this generates over the course of a day!
3. If you have to drive, laugh every time you stop at traffic lights and don’t stop until they turn green. If they are green when you get to them, shout ‘YES!’ as you go through them and laugh in celebration. The thought of this may make you feel embarrassed but the actual experience is so fun and uplifting that you won’t care! If you have children in the car, get them to join in. Children are the laughter experts of the world.
4. Quietly sing the words ho, ho, ha, ha, hee, hee to a tune you know and do this whenever you do any physical task, i.e. go to the bathroom, walk out to the car, make a cup of tea. With practice this can become a useful unconscious habit.
5. If you are lucky enough to have a ‘laughter friend’ (someone to ring and laugh with without needing to talk) ring them at least twice during the day. If not, then use your mobile phone and pretend to be talking to someone who is telling you a really funny story. Phrases like ‘he did WHAT?!’ , ‘I can’t believe it!’, may prompt more laughter. This exercise can be done walking through the office, down the street or at home. Dare yourself to try it on public transport and watch the effect your laughter has on others – you might get some pretty funny reactions!
6. Use laughter as a response to questions like ‘have you finished that yet?’, ‘Is dinner ready?’, ‘Have you had a good day?’ Or if you are on your own, dance for the duration of one song on the radio whilst laughing.
If you do these 6 simple exercises you will have experienced a minimum of 18 minutes of laughter throughout your day, on a day when you may not normally have laughed once. You don’t need to worry about the mismatch between your frame of mind and your action, nature will do the rest and you might just improve the day for other people too.
So the next time you’re feeling a bit low give laughter a try and see if it becomes your best friend too ☺’
Lesley Lyle has made laughter her business, blending the discipline of laughter yoga with exercises you can use every day. Arming you with the ability to see the funny-side to every situation, Lesley’s approach will help you face life with a smile! Discover more about her unique approach atwww.laughterbusiness.com
Laugh Your Way to Happiness by Lesley Lyle
256 pages • Paperback • £8.99