A 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 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.