Coaching, Lifestyle | 17 October 2016

Laughter Really Is The Best Medicine

A short article on how fun and laughter can aid our internal Life Coach and Hypnotherapist

So there we were, in the conference having just learnt more about emotional intelligence and combining hypnosis and Tai Chi and…….

Laughter in a pocket?

A laughing scale?

Gut laughs, little laughs, bright laughs, laughs with gusto, animated laughs, giggles, sneaky laughs behind the hand … the list went on and we laughed and laughed and laughed.

Isn’t it funny (almost laughable really) how a perfectly natural thing such as laughter can have us feeling a little embarrassed at first to embrace when instructed.  Some went straight into the role, while others looked around to see how involved people were getting.  Others, well let’s say organised laughter may not be their thing.

It was a great conference with lots to learn and this was undoubtedly one of the best sessions; we all finished it feeling great.

Fun and laughter is an important part of any day.  FISH Philosophy incorporate it into their corporate training, Richard Branson is a great advocate of fun and it is a natural part of childhood.

Fun and laughter are powerful ways to overcome feelings of anxiousness, frustration, anguish and even pain.  It puts wonderful highlights into any day and has fabulous health benefits.  It allows us to remain much more positive in complex situations.

Laughter helps us to relax. Research has shown that when we laugh our parasympathetic tone is improved and our sympathetic nervous system becomes less active.  In general terms the parasympathetic nervous system aids digestion, relaxation and other aspects of the human body that respond in the restful state.  The sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for intense activity and relates also to the ‘fight or flight’ mode.

When we are relaxed we feel more in control, our heart rate is more stable, our blood pressure is lower and there is in general, less tension in the body.  In a more relaxed state we are able to think more clearly and therefore think through solutions, outcomes and possibilities in a more rational way void of over reacting emotions.

Laughter increases our immune system and therefore keeps us healthier in general.  It releases endorphins, dopamine and high concentrations of other hormones that enable us to feel happier, to feel compassion and tolerance.  This enables us to deal with pain and stress more easily, and improves our cognitive processes.

Laughter produces brain waves very similar to the state of trance or hypnosis.  Self-hypnosis creates possibilities, solutions and outcomes – it talks directly to the unconscious mind.

Laughter assists mental health and self-esteem and that has to be good for you!

And isn’t always great to have a good laugh with a friend, or colleague or loved one. There is nothing more engaging nor contagious as a smile or a laugh.

As a Hypnotherapist and Life Coach a lot of people who come to see me have lost the fun and laughter in life.  Things seem such a burden that it has all but gone.  I prescribe daily injections of fun and laughter because it is one of the best things we can do for ourselves.  Whether it is a paddle in a puddle to a dance in the rain; a memory of a time where you laughed so much your sides hurt or a little chuckle at a humorous thought or a silly joke.   Sing along to an “oldie and a goodie” or dance as if you just don’t care.  As you walk across a pedestrian crossing only stand on the white lines.

Businessman and author Bruce Sullivan advocates viewing life through the eyes of a four-year-old and I am with him.  Four year olds know how to have fun!  From a mud pie fight to watching snails climb trees they look through the eyes of wonder and adventure.  Where is the four-year-old in us now?  It is still there?  Many people have just let the adult take over but within us all is a four-year-old self just waiting to break out – even if just in the smallest way.

Four-year-olds are very creative.  They create new ways of using toys and resources. They can turn a cardboard box into a car, a treasure chest, even a suit of armour. Give them two or three boxes and it can be a robot, or transformer or a jet propelled, double prop, hovercraft.  What could you resolve as an adult if you utilised your four-year-old creativity?

Four-year-olds can transform themselves.  Put their shorts on over their trousers, tie a towel around their neck and watch their way of being change.  They change their stance, they suddenly have super powers that they did not have as themselves, they may even change what they say and how they say things.  They believe in themselves.  When they have had enough they transform back to being themselves again.  How can you transform yourself? A change of stance is a simple way to change behaviour.  Perhaps certain colours, suits or outfits allow you feel more confident, engaging or even powerful?  And what super powers go with this change?  We all have them!

While fun and laughter may not resolve problems, it can soften them offering us other ways of dealing with them more resourcefully and in ways that result in better outcomes. It allows us to engage with our creative being. It can also help to bring time and thought to refocus on what is truly important in life.

So, while no one is looking just slide your hand into your pocket (or pretend pocket), rummage around and find the smile within.  Pop it, even if just briefly, onto your mouth and let it take over.  Add a laugh and enjoy your day fully.

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