Starting with a smile
“Smiling activates a place in the brain called the orbitofrontal cortex so that even if we merely think about someone smiling we want to smile. A simple smile releases the feel-good hormones endorphins, serotonin and dopamine and lights us up from the inside. A smile is a heartfelt connection; a silent gesture that helps to close the distance between two people. It is a clear message of peace and signals friendliness, openness and a willingness to trust. When our smile is genuine we reveal our true nature. Even when enduring a stressful experience, the physical act of smiling can help us to let go of tension, to feel more relaxed and to recover more quickly after the event. Smiling is so simple and easy to do that we often underplay the powerful impact it can have on our emotional and physical health.
Try gentle laughter
“We do not always have to be laughing loudly or heartily,” explains Lisa. “You may be already laughing frequently or you may not have laughed at all in the last few years; either way it is always good to learn to laugh gently. It’s a bit like going for a run; you wouldn’t usually sprint out the door straight away, you would probably stretch, walk or jog slowly at first. Treating ourselves kindly and gently in life is paramount for an enjoyable existence, and learning to laugh gently mirrors this practice.”
Laugh at yourself
“Playing encourages us to lighten up and to stop taking ourselves quite so seriously; it invites us to see life as a game and an adventure, an open door. We start to see ourselves as playing parts or roles in the game. We see our mistakes, blunders and mishaps as part of the whole process, to be forgiven and accepted with love and humour. Our mistakes remind us of our infallibility, our imperfections and our humanness.”
Feel the laughs
“Hug yourself (or someone else – with their permission) gently and smile as you start to rock your body softly. When it begins to feel good and you notice yourself beginning to relax, start to laugh gently and kindly.”
Laugh with others
“Laughter is a social tool; we usually laugh most when we are with other people. So it’s vital to find some like-minded, fun loving, trusted friends or family to laugh with. Finding and making friends with people who can be playful, silly and non-judgemental is imperative to laughing frequently and freely.”
Give laughter yoga a go!
“Laughter Yoga encourages people to meet together on a regular basis to laugh freely for health, peace and happiness,” explains Lisa. “Ever since it started in India over 20 years ago, Laughter Yoga has helped to improve the wellbeing of individuals and communities worldwide. Thanks to its existence, laughter clubs in every corner of the globe are emerging; a testament to the positive impact, durability and evolving nature of the Laughter Yoga movement.” We recommend joining a laughter yoga class to really laugh yourselves silly… You’ll even make new friends in the process!
Laugh by Lisa Sturge is out now and available from Hardie Grant for £7.99.