by Anne Day
The other week Amy and I got together to look at the stories we’d collected for our book Enough. Much of our time has been spent hearing stories of how women are not feeling good enough and how this has negatively impacted their lives, as well as a few stories sprinkled with resilience. But regardless, still heavy stuff.
Suddenly we were doubled up in laughter as I shared a funny story about my early courting days with my husband. Those giggles and smiles, dramatically changed the tone of our meeting. Instead of feeling overwhelmed at the tasks ahead, we became more positive and connected to one another.
So before we all drown in a sea of sorrow, let’s focus our energies on what is working and more to the point, what could work for you.
I like to think I am a fairly optimistic person, but I have also had my share of health hiccups over the years. So what got me through those tough times when I felt miserable, scared I might die and not see my children grow up?
My sense of humour.
Having an ability to see the funny side of dark situations is a huge game-changer. Can we learn how to do that, I am not sure? But what I do know, it is worth a try. Because when we lighten up and take ourselves less seriously, it can make a big difference to how we are feeling.
It is a mindset, one that is integral to whether you are an optimist or pessimist. I have always been a glass half-full gal, so the very thought that I might not make it, was not on my radar. I’ve got too much to do, thank you very much.
So how do you cultivate your sense of humour. One is to make yourself laugh. When I was waiting for my chemo treatments, I took Lynn Johnston cartoon books with me, and sat and looked at them. It took my mind off what was happening, and there were times when I even laughed out loud.
Another is to watch funny movies. Did you know that there are over 3,000 Internet sites devoted to sharing lawyer jokes? Even those with zero sense of humour can help themselves – try smiling as a starting point.
But laughter is so good for us. In his book Anatomy of an Illness, author Norm Cousins shared how laughter had saved his life. Not only that, you can lose calories. Apparently you lose 10-40 calories with 10-15 minutes of daily laughing.
Having an ability to tell a story that sparks laughter is a real gift. It can be your choice of words, or having an unexpected spin or incongruous ending to the story that people can visualize. I have a friend who collapses in fits of giggles every time she tries to tell a funny story or joke, to the point that we all end up laughing just because she’s laughing so much.
Think of a time when you’ve laughed so much, that you’ve had tears rolling down your cheeks, or you’ve giggled non-stop at some ridiculous situation. Gotcha, made you smile I am sure. Even remembering brings a warm moment to your day.
And laughter is contagious, as we found at our retreat last year, when a group of us tried laughter yoga for the first time. In fact it has been proven that laughter is a full-blown workout, burning calories, increasing your heart rate, and working a variety of muscles.
Contrary to what we would think, the number one catalyst for laughter is not a joke, but interacting with another person. One researcher found that we’re 30 times more likely to laugh when someone else is around than when you are by yourself.
I can certainly attest to that, I just love getting together with girlfriends because inevitably we end up laughing and it just totally changes your spirit.
As Norm Cousins says “Laughter is a powerful way to tap positive emotions.” Try it and let us know how it works for you.