The Healing Power Of Laughter - Page 2 of 3

The Healing Power Of Laughter

touching and funny,” James recalls. “I totally identified with her, and I laughed. That’s what good comedy makes you do.”

James, 40, continued to take comedy workshops after she returned to work. She found that the classes forced her to examine her experiences and her reactions to them. But the exercises also forced her to find the irony, quirks, and humor in even the worst pain, which proved to be extremely helpful. Furthermore, the interaction with others showed her that many people had worse problems than she did.

“Someone once told me that most comedians have a dark side,” says James. “I think that’s true. But they are able to express lots of messed up things in a positive way. They look at life honestly, then sort of flip the script so that things that could make you cry end up making you laugh. Crying can be therapeutic, too, but laughing feels so much better.”

B.E.’s Successpert Speaks:
In his book Attitude Is Everything: 10 Life-Changing Steps to Turning Attitude into Action (HarperCollins; $14.95), Atlanta-based motivational speaker Keith Harrell insists that “a positive attitude is your most priceless possession. To a great extent, it determines the overall quality of your life.”

According to Harrell, attitudes, unlike height or body type, are developed, not predetermined, and can be changed. But the key to such change lies in self-motivation. One of the tools Harrell advises using is humor. “Humor is a very powerful tool in developing a positive outlook in life,” he says. “The more humor and laughter in your life, the less stress you’ll have, which in turn means more positive energy to help you put your attitude into action.”

Harrell notes that there are health benefits to lightening up. “When you laugh, your body’s muscles expand and contract, your circulation increases, and your digestive system improves,” he says. “The body produces endorphins, which facilitate the healing process. I recently read that 15 minutes a day of deep gut laughter is equivalent to five minutes of moderate jogging.”
So, learn to lighten up. It’ll keep you motivated.

How to Infuse Your Life with Laughter
Here are six proven techniques and some top-notch resourcesthat will help you tickle your spirit:

  • Surround yourself with funny folks. Everybody needs at least one friend who, when all else fails, makes them howl.
  • Go on a laughter hunt. Search your everyday life for bits of joy. Read the comics, not just the newspaper. Laugh out loud at a joke overheard on the elevator.
  • Turn your downtime into fun time. Watch a sitcom or variety show instead of a drama. Keep some classic comedy CDs, DVDs, and tapes in your car and travel pack. Pop them in for an unexpected boost.
  • Be a clown. Take every (reasonable) opportunity to lighten up and act silly. Whether you’re with your kids, out to lunch with co-workers, or alone, it will feel good to let go.
  • Force it. The next time you’re about to cringe, shout, or groan out of embarrassment or frustration,