When was the last time you really, really laughed? Laughter can surprise us, coming from nowhere, throwing us into convulsions of mirth. During the most serious of events we can become overwhelmed with a burning desire to laugh wildly.
Laughter is a bridge between people. It enables us to express joy and playfulness and to share our delight with others. Laughter encourages us to be more of who we are, rather than who we think we should be.
The multiple benefits of laughter can have a wide ranging impact: strengthening our relationships, improving our health and increasing our efficiency in the workplace. Even if we have not laughed for a really long time, laughter is a skill that can be re-learnt and integrated into our everyday world.
The following qualities or traits are useful laughter partners. These elements facilitate the flow of laughter in our everyday life, and support and encourage us in the process.
We need to understand why laughter is so useful and most importantly, know why it is important to us. If you could create a vision or symbol for your life with more laughter in it, what would it look like?
What would that give you? This is your WHY. Draw or record it (in colour if you feel the urge) as a reminder and motivator for those days when you find it hard to laugh.
Allowing yourself to be playful is an extraordinary way of being that enables us to see possibilities, humour and adventure in the ordinary. Playing encourages us to dig deep for the funny, to explore uncharted waters, to take risks and lose ourselves blissfully in the present moment. When we are being playful we stretch our imagination to the sky and back; expanding our creative horizons. (And that’s where all the fun is.)
PRESENT MOMENT AWARENESS OR MINDFULNESS
Paying attention to the present moment, noticing the small details as well as the bigger picture, is a skill much needed in today’s society. Mindfulness enables us to focus where otherwise we might be full of assumptions. Mindfulness trains our senses to work at their optimum, enhancing everyday life. If we learn to pause in our daily swirl of activities and become fully present to whatever is happening at that moment, we will be able to pause and laugh easily. Laughter is mindfulness in motion.
One of life’s greatest joys is to wonder, question and explore. Look intently for the unusual, novel and ridiculous. Curiosity opens us up to impossible possibilities. Curiosity encourages us to embrace the unknown even in frustrating circumstances and persevere when we might have given up.
We are 30 times more likely to laugh with other people than on our own. As we are social creatures we benefit from regular, supportive interactions with others, particularly if they are positive and fun-loving. Strengthening these relationships and building new ones aids the laughter process.
Having the attitude of ‘glass half full’ rather than ‘glass half empty’ enables us to embrace life. If we produce more positive thoughts than unhelpful ones, we seek out the joys and look for things that amuse us. Laughing and optimism dance hand in hand, complementing one another and creating some beautiful shapes together.
Often we forget the many small things there are to be grateful for. Practising gratitude frequently is a fast track to happiness and reminds us how lucky we are. Gratitude makes it even easier to smile and laugh. Laughing helps us to feel grateful and vibrant, and in turn being grateful enables us to play and laugh more easily.
To laugh with no obvious reason, to play because we feel the urge – these actions are considered the antithesis of a normal, sane existence in the 21st century. Yet people everywhere in the modern world are mentally suffocating in stress-filled schedules, experiencing little or no relaxation every day. It takes courage to make a stand and show through our actions that playfulness and laughter are not only crucial for our health and wellbeing, the world is a lonelier, sadder place without it.
Dedicating ourselves to sharing joy, laughter and fun with others is a passionate pilgrimage, and one that also requires daily practice and continued effort. Staying optimistic, playful and open to laughter requires patience, commitment and consistency, especially on days when things are falling apart at the seams.
We all benefit from positive reinforcement when learning. Laughing is no exception. Having a deep sense of self-respect and self-compassion is paramount to learning how we can let go and laugh. If we can be kind and generous to ourselves in our thoughts and actions then the whole process will flow more easily and enjoyably. We cannot laugh freely if we are demanding or self-critical.
Relinquishing control is a pre-requisite to laughing freely. Laughter flows from trust, openness and surrender. When we laugh uncontrollably we let go, opening ourselves to the unknown and embracing the moment. When we hold on to being ‘in control’, our laughter is restricted.
Surrender comes with a deep-seated trust in the laughter process. This can be nurtured with patience and understanding.