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I was dragging myself up the three flights of stairs to the gym yesterday grumbling about all the work I had to do, when I looked up to see someone smiling at me. It was a beaming contagious smile that I felt all the way into my heart. My whole being seemed to light up as I bounded up the last flight of stairs as if the smile was pushing me along. I felt genuinely happy. My whole day seemed to shift after that. I couldn’t help but think about the power and energy a smile can have.

Let yourself enjoy a good laugh everyday and if you don’t feel it then “fake it till you make it.”

Have you ever just smiled at someone, the kind of smile that’s an overflow of your personal happiness, for no reason? There is something so genuine about sharing that kind of joy. Not only is it good for others, but its good for us to express our joy. I highly recommend watching this TED Talk by Ron Gutman about the science of smiling. It’s not just smiling that does our hearts and health good but laughing can also have a powerful effect on our ability to heal. Gutman also talks about how your smile can even be a predictor of how long you will live.

I remember years ago my aunt was diagnosed with lymphoma. She was a pretty up beat energetic woman and she noticed that every time her doctor came in the room she would wilt around his gloomy mood and downbeat disposition. She started calling him Dr. Doom and Gloom. After a while she asked her kids to deal with him so she didn’t have to use so much energy to deflect his unsupportive bedside manner. In addition, she asked everyone who came to visit to bring her funny movies. She wanted to laugh her way through her health crisis. And indeed, she did. She knew in her heart that this wasn’t her time to leave this planet and she wasn’t going to let this illness take her. She armed herself with laughter and joy. At 86, she is still laughing. I think about her often and delight in the sound of her laugh and her buoyant nature.

Yoga recognizes that joy is our true nature. It’s not the joy that comes from our external circumstances, but it is the joy that is always there inside of us. It’s the joy with which we came into this life. Our yoga practice helps us tap in to it. It helps us remember our own true nature.

Laughter Yoga

A few years ago, I stumbled into a yoga class where laughter was the practice of the day. We were learning to belly laugh without any jokes, and without seeing anything funny. The teacher said, “It’s simple. Anyone can laugh without needing to rely on humor.” Laughing bypasses the intellectual systems that suppress our natural joy. The teacher went on to say “if you’re not feeling it, then fake it till you make it,” a phrase that has stuck with me over the years. There are now schools of yoga dedicated to groups of people who get together to laugh with a kind of reckless abandon. You can actually feel your blood circulating and your heart pumping. There is a sense of pure joy that is evoked in the practice.

Dr. Madan Kataria, dubbed the laughing doctor and founder of Laughter Yoga in Mumbai, India states that laughter yoga:

  • Reduces stress and strengths the immune system
  • Oxygenates your brain and makes you feel more energetic
  • Helps you keep a positive mental attitude in difficult times.

It’s easy and it’s fun. You can do it in a group or all by yourself when you need to shift your mood.

Here’s how:

  • Begin to chuckle out loud to yourself.
  • Let yourself feel the physical act of laughing.
  • Let the laughing spur more laughing
  • You can play with all different kinds of laughter. A chuckle, a giggle, a burst and a shout.

Give it a try.  I know you have it in you.

I remember as a child my favorite movie scene was from the movie Mary Poppins. The song was called “I love to laugh.”

Everyone who came to have tea was encouraged to laugh because laughing lifted each one of them up to the ceiling and that is where the tea party was happening.

Laughing does lift us up. It can carry us a long way if we let it.

Let yourself enjoy a good laugh everyday and if you don’t feel it then “fake it till you make it.” See you on the ceiling.

We’d love to hear a story about how deciding to laugh improved an experience for you or made you feel better and more optimistic?

Contributed by

Susi Amendola
Stress Management Specialist

What have you done to remind yourself of the things that have meaning for you?

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