When Should You Dance Like Gene Kelly?

When It Rains, DanceA child laughs around 300 times a day; an adult, just fifteen.  That is a shocking fact!  And it may go at least some way to explaining why we all feel so much more stress as we grow older.


Stress is a killer.  It is linked to heart disease, stroke and is implicated as a contributory factor in cancer, Alzheimer’s and other serious illnesses.  Yet one stress buster is so easily available. 


Laughter.


Laughter is a natural antidote to stress because in the moment when you are laughing, your brain experiences a natural boost of feel good endorphins, which help give you a more optimistic outlook and act to reduce your stress hormone levels. You physically relax and that improves your mood still further.


Happy people laugh more.  People who laugh more are happier.  It is a self fulfilling cycle.  And just as your experience of stress is what you perceive it to be, so happiness is largely a decision.  You can just decide to be happy. 


 “If you want to be happy, be” (Leo Tolstoy)


So why is it that more people do not make the most of this natural form of stress relief?  Have adults simply forgotten how to laugh?


One of my own theories is that, unless sullied by adults, children look for the good in the world.  They look for fun and seek delight.  They enjoy the moment and laugh at the smallest thing.  And they make others happy too.


“Whoever is happy will make others happy too” (Anne Frank)


And yet as people grow older, they see more of the world that dismays them.  They stop looking for the good in everything.  They stop living in the moment and start living a “jam tomorrow lifestyle.”  They become sarcastic and critical.  They live as if it is a crime to be happy.


If you have fallen into this rut, and who has not from time to time, recognise that you are in a rut.  It is not always easy to climb out and become happier because that means you have to change your mindset.  But if you want to be happier, laugh more and be less stressed, changing your mindset is exactly what you have to do.  So decide to do it.


Start small.  Be grateful for what you have in life.  Tell your loved ones that you love them.  Download my free ebook.  Smile.  And next time you get caught in the rain, do not frown.  Dance like Gene Kelly.


Do Stress Management Programs Work?

Stress does not respect age, gender, wealth, ethnicity, ability, IQ, EG, the great, the good or anything else for that matter!  Everyone I know suffers stress at some point in their lives.  Absolutely everyone.  And as far as I can make out, they only differ from each other in two respects: the extent to which they suffer and what they choose to do about it. 

But if you consider this more closely, even these two differences are actually only one difference.  Think about it.  If you suffer a lot with stress, maybe because you perceive everything you are up against to be stressful, and yet you do nothing to actively reduce it then you will remain in a highly stressed out state.  

Conversely, if you are highly stressed and you do consider it to be important enough to do something about, you will follow stress management program successfully and become less stressed.

I suppose naysayers will say something like – “just change your perception of stress”.  Deciding to be less stressed is definitely a way forward.  But have you honestly ever changed your belief system at a time of high stress?  Me either. 

Changing your belief system is not an easy process.  It takes time and energy.  And whilst you are feeling the pressure, if you perceive different situations to be stressful, you will struggle to change your perceptions. 

So actually the only difference between people who suffer continual high stress and those who come through it is the latter group’s decision to take action to reduce their stress.

And that is the million dollar answer to the question I posted at the top.  Stress management programs DO work.  But YOU have to work them.

If you’ve got any personal experiences or success stories, feel free to add them below.