Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Big Ole Belly Laugh

By Amy Phillips-Gary

It's a usual day on the metro. People read, listen to music or chat quietly with each other as they travel from one place to another.

Suddenly, a man-- sitting by himself-- begins to laugh quite loudly and boisterously. Those around him begin to look and wonder what has caused this man to laugh so heartily.

And then it happens.

The laughter starts to spread just minutes after the gentleman begins to giggle. Pretty soon, the entire train car is bursting at the seams with laughter.

Riders are shaking their heads and shrugging their shoulders in surrender to the sheer pleasure of laughing.

This actual scene spontaneously occurred on a metro train. As I watched the recording of it on youtube.com, I couldn't help myself either. I joined in with the laughter.

And it felt so good!

It really doesn't matter what kind of laughter you experience. You might giggle, smirk, or chuckle. Or you may loudly guffaw and double over with a deep belly laugh.

There's no doubt about it. Laughter is a pleasing, releasing and relaxing activity to engage in.

Even if you can't bring yourself to a full-out laugh, you can almost always find a way to lighten up about what's going on in your life.

Unfortunately, many of us don't allow ourselves a really good laugh regularly. It seems too easy to get wrapped up in the “serious work” of being an adult.

After all, we have bills to pay, examples to set for the young folk in our lives and what can seem like the unending troubles of our world to contend with.

Who has time for laughter and lightening up in the midst of all that?

Laughter is essential...

I believe that it's time we all make laughter as much a priority in our lives as we do working out at the gym, eating our vegetables and keeping our minds sharp by completing the sudoku.

The health benefits of laughter have actually been documented. We have all hopefully experienced the delightful release of tension and stress after a good laugh.

You may also be aware that laughter releases those uplifting endorphins. The immune system can be boosted by laughter and benefits to the cardiovascular system can also result.

When you share laughter with others, a bond is almost immediately formed. It is truly difficult to harbor ill feelings toward another person when the two of you are laughing together.

Laughter can also help you get unstuck emotionally. A cleansing laugh can truly shift your perspective.

Laughter can't be forced...

When you look at your life and you are afraid, worried, angry, disappointed or even disgusted by what you see, it can seem impossible to laugh. You simply can't make yourself be happy or laugh.

Noticing that you are unhappy is a great first step toward lightening up and creating space for laughter.

Acknowledge what you're feeling. Don't discount your emotions or shove aside unhappiness.

Do choose to focus more of your attention on aspects of your life that feel lighter, easier and more pleasing.

Your lightening up process might start by watching your cat chase after a toy, for example. As the feline tumbles, leaps and tackles the fuzzball “prey,” you might notice a slight smile form on your lips.

Yes, your life is relatively the same as it was a moment ago, but by simply watching your cat have a little fun you lightened up. It wasn't forced. It was a conscious choice you made to shift your focus.