Laughing your way to happiness? I’m serious.

LaughterAlcoholics Anonymous has a saying that sometimes you can “act your way into feeling.”  It’s true—we’ve all experienced it.   Feelings do follow behavior at times.   (You may remember going to a party that you didn’t feel like attending only to find that once you were there you had a good time.)

I once had a client who said he couldn’t cry about the loss of his dad, though he felt very sad.  I asked him to show me what it would look like physically if he cried…to put his hands, face, and body in the position he would assume if he cried.  He put his head in his hands and his elbows on his knees—and began to sob over his loss.  His actions released the flow of his emotions.

Thoughts, feelings, and behavior…whenever we change one of these the other two are affected.

I was contacted by a reader of this blog about groups being held around the world for the purpose of laughing…just to laugh.  The effects are very beneficial they say, and I believe them.  The Wikipedia article on Norman Cousins contains the following quote:  “I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep,” he reported. “When the pain-killing effect of the laughter wore off, we would switch on the motion picture projector again and not infrequently, it would lead to another pain-free interval.”

He went on to write Anatomy of an Illness describing his discoveries about humor and healing.

Much more recently I attended a workshop of the treatment of trauma only to discover that the speaker recommends her clients go to humor sites on the internet to sooth themselves when distress becomes unmanageable.  It’s not a matter of denying the difficulties in life, but in shifting our obsessive attention away from them to give us a break.  (Laughter also releases endorphins, our natural internal pain reliever.)  Of course, this was but one of several strategies she offered to help temporarily relieve significant emotional pain.

The reader who wrote to me about the topic was promoting the website for Laughing Yoga, which is informative and motivating.  Give it a look and take a second look at the role of laughter in your life.  Perhaps you, too, can act your way into feeling on a tough day.  As Norman Cousins would probably say, I bet it won’t hurt!


Note:  The concept I am talking about here is not meant to be used as a substitute for facing the difficulties in your life, of course.  However, it can help you face them with greater ease.

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2 Responses to Laughing your way to happiness? I’m serious.

  1. Pingback: Today’s Motivation: How Laughing Makes You Skinny « Media Meme

  2. Nice Post. Its really a very good article. I noticed all your important points. Thanks”

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