Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face. Victor Hugo
According to the Humour Foundation, Monday, 1 April 2013 was National Smile Day. National Smile Day is the annual fundraising day to raise awareness and support for Clown Doctors in the local community. Did you miss it? It’s not too late to show your support and participate – the entire month of April marks Smile Month at Clown Doctors and Commonwealth Bank.
From October, there will be an increase in Clown Doctors visiting children in hospital around Australia – with the aim of reaching 10,000 more children each year. Clown Doctors currently visit 21 hospitals around the country drawing with them the inspiration that laughter is still the best medicine.
More information about the Humour Foundation’s Smile Month is available here.
To celebrate Smile Month, Happiness Weekly is looking into laughter therapy and how it can help you!
Laughing is the simplest, easiest and cheapest stress management there is. In fact, all humans, apes, and surprisingly dogs and rats, have the ability to laugh from birth. As the name suggests, laughter therapy is about laughing to get a particular result – usually to make us feel better in some way, but it can also relieve pain, reduce blood pressure and decrease stress.
There are various types of laughter therapy including laughter yoga (laughing out loud until it does become funny), laughter groups (sharing jokes, funny props, watching humorous videos), and Clown Doctors (who visit sick children in hospital). Generally one type of laughter therapy will appeal more than the others depending on your condition and circumstances.
When laughter is spontaneous and in response to something we think is funny, we get a better result than if it is forced. Understanding a joke increases happy hormones and endorphins, but it also lifts a weight off the brain. Having said that, it doesn’t matter how or why you laugh, because the mind responds in the same way – whether it’s real or fake. Having a bad day? Stand in front of the mirror and smile at yourself – eventually you will feel better.
Laughter Yoga Groups involved a group of people coming together to make the noise of laughter until it generates its own hilarity. The sessions include breathing, ho-ho-hoing and producing different laughs (with bizzare names such as: one metre, silent, cocktail and lion). Although it can be intimidating to start, laughing in a group is contagious.
Laughter groups are slightly more difficult to find but can help with pain management and weight loss. It encourages participants to take part using funny toys, props, jokes and fancy clothes. By attending a laughter group you will learn to laugh at yourself more easily and to treat life less seriously as a way to reduce stress.
Clown Doctors are recognised as the most important and useful form of laughter therapy. Sick children in hospital are “treated” with “doses of fun” to help them deal with laughter, fear, pain and anxiety. Clown Doctors have professional training within the Humour Foundation to offer high level skills in the midst of serious hospitals and illness, often making frightening hospital equipment and procedures into a parody.
Laughter is a great workout as it uses most of your body – including the heart and lungs. It breaks down barriers, makes you feel relaxed and encourages positive communication and enables smoother problem solving.
Without being crude, what is the funniest joke you know?
I hope everyone that is reading this is having a really good day. And if you are not, just know that in every new minute that passes you have an opportunity to change that. Gillian Anderson
Every day has potential to be the best day of your life. Make the decision that today will be a great day and spend your time working to achieve it. The following tips will make it easy for you to live each day to the fullest.
Select your alarm tune carefully
Setting your alarm tune to something peaceful or happy is always a great way to start the day! My alarm tune is set to the DuckTails theme song. It reminds me of Saturday Disney and being young, it gives me energy to start the day and it makes me wake with a smile. For those of you that think a song may be too much too early in the morning, try selecting something peaceful (but still enough to wake you) to get you out of bed each morning.
Wake up healthy
When you feel good, you’ll look good. Wake up and stretch, drink a glass of water, have a bowl of fruit and/or high-fibre cereal for breakfast and try to schedule some time for a brisk walk to get the heart rate up. Getting into the routine of slowing down your morning, properly brushing your teeth and taking time for yourself is a great way to start the day!
Dress to impress
It’s important to dress for success whether you have a long day of work stretching ahead of you or not. Did you know that a careerbuilder.com survey found that 41% of employers are more likely to promote people that dress better? It will also help you be more productive and people will be more receptive to you.
Smiling is universally recognised as an expression of happiness among all cultures: if you smile, other people will generally smile with you. Some studies support this, even suggesting that it is contagious. For example a study conducted in Sweden showed that people had difficulty frowning when they looked at other subjects who were smiling, and their muscles twitched into smiles all on their own.
Perceive everything in a positive way
Make the decision to take everything in a positive way – remember, you are only living today for one day only. If someone is trying to be negative and force you down, the trick is to try to find the lesson in what they are saying or doing. Learning from them will benefit you as you keep your head up and continue striving to be the best you can be.
Be kind to everyone you encounter. According to psychologist Og Mandino (1923-1996), “Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness, and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again”. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice to someone, it’s easy to do, and it makes you feel good! So smile, start a conversation and remember to mind your manners. The Stanford Research Institute says that the money you make in any endeavour is determined by 12.5% knowledge and 87.5% ability to deal with people.
Give away positive energy
According to the law of attraction, the more positive energy you give, the more you will receive. Give compliments, let people know you’re thinking of them, buy people gifts, and always mind your manners. The easiest way to give and receive positive energy is to always have good intentions.
Have a positive attitude
Maintain an attitude of gratitude and you will attract all good things. Being thankful for even the small things will enhance awareness of your surroundings and it’s this level of mindfulness that will assist you in appreciating each day. You have 25,000 to 50,000 thoughts a day, changing most of them to be positive will be a challenge but it’s certainly possible!
Be open to learning something new. Accept a spontaneous opportunity. Do something you’re scared of (within reason!). Challenge yourself to achieve your full potential. By challenging yourself you will grow, gain awareness, skills and knowledge, achieve more, possibly advance in your career, become a better friend or partner, and gain new experiences.
Chat to loved ones
Schedule some time towards the end of each day to chat to your loved ones. Call your family for a general catch up or call your best friend. It’s a great way to vent, relax, unwind, and wrap up a busy day in the office!
Have an exercise routine in the afternoon that you look forward to after work, it will help you to refresh – and it’s great for your health! Studies have shown that just 20 minutes of exercise three times a week will increase your happiness by 10 to 20 percent after six months.
Look after yourself
Aside from the usual hygiene care (showering and brushing your teeth), try to do something nice for yourself each day. This could be grooming: getting a haircut, painting your nails or it could be something leisurely: planning a party, having a bath, reading the newspaper or a book, going shopping or to the beach, writing a letter, painting a picture, going star-gazing, listening to music etc.
Live for the moment
Time is something you can never get back. Avoid wasting it! While we can live to an endless to-do list it’s equally important to have time to think and meditate. Put your phone down and give your time fully when you’re socialising – it will allow you to fully enjoy the moment. Switching off and being completely present enables you to slow down a fast-paced life to fully enjoy yourself.
Respect your biorhythms
To help ensure tomorrow is just as good as today, make sure you get a good night’s sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep may mean investing in earplugs to ensure your room is silent, a new pillow for comfort, or an eye mask to ensure no light will disturb you. If you find yourself awake at night, figure out what is worrying you and how you can overcome it.
Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions. Unknown
Like it or not, people make decisions that affect us every day. The government of the country, the CEO of the company you’re working for, your manager, your local council, your bus or train driver, your partner… it’s just a fact of life we’re forced to deal with. But how do you cope when you really don’t agree with the decision that has been made?
1. Think about it
Take a step back from the frustration and panic that is overcoming you and don’t react. Be open to the decision that has been made: just because it’s not your decision, or your choice in decision, does not necessarily make it wrong. Consider why you don’t agree with it, why the decision was made, why the person may have made this decision, and what benefits could come from this decision?
2. Talk about it
It’s important to communicate. Find out if the decision is final or if there is any way you could influence it with your opinion by telling the person in charge your thoughts. Once you offer your ideas, opinions and perspective, the decision maker may take it into consideration. It may also get you included in the decision making process in future – you don’t know until you try!
3. Accept the decision
Everyone has the right to make their own decisions. You don’t have to agree with the decision made, but for your own peace of mind, you need to accept it. To put your mind at ease, trust that the person making the decision is making it the best way they can, in their situation, with their experience. This person will need to accept responsibility for their decision later on, so the best thing you can do is accept their decision and support it as best you can. Start taking action to support their decision to help you to feel empowered.
Many decisions aren’t yours to make – this is a fact of life. However, you do have the opportunity to respond and can make another decision that gives you power in the situation you have found yourself in. If someone else’s decision endangers your life or is seriously against your values, the final option is this: you can stay or you can go.
To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive peace and happiness. Robert Muller
Someone very close to me recently pointed out that the majority of movies we watch are mostly about revenge. In reality, when we hold onto a grudge and take revenge, we are only damaging ourselves as it entices anger and other negative emotions, which unnecessarily uses a lot of energy. As Buddah says: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned”. Or this one by an anonymous (but wise!) source: “Hating someone is drinking poison and expecting the other person to die from it.”
But how do we let go and forgive someone after we have been wronged?
Remember, your life and your emotions are made up of a series of decisions. You can choose to be angry and hold resentment or you can choose to forgive and move forward. Holding onto resentment initially is there as a coping mechanism, to protect us from further pain – short term it is healthy, but when it continues for a long period of time, it’s a problem.
Forgiveness is often hard to give because there is a big misconception in the world that if you forgive something then you condone what has happened, and has obviously hurt you. This isn’t the case and it doesn’t mean you need to forget what happened either. True forgiveness shows that your relationship with that person is more valuable than your ego. It means you have moved beyond the action and your mind is now clear so you can move forward.
The biggest changes generally have to come from within, so why not start by forgiving yourself before you move to forgive others.
Some benefits of forgiveness – it:
* Invokes love
* Releases stress and tension
* Rebalances your body chemistry
* Decreases use of medication
* Improves sleep quality and decreases fatigue
* Decreases aches and pains
* Strengthens spirituality
* Encourages better conflict management
* Improves relationships
* Is good for your heart: a study from the Journal of Behavioral Medicine found forgiveness to be associated with lower heart rate and blood pressure as well as stress relief.
* Restores positive thoughts, feelings and behaviours toward the offender
* Is associated with more volunteerism, donating to charity, and other altruistic behaviours.
How to forgive:
- Accept that your grudge doesn’t hurt the offender in the slightest
- Choose to use your negative emotions for positive and strive to move forward
- Make a list of all the good things that have happened as a result of this negative experience
- Turn to your friends for support
- Keep focussing on the bigger picture
- Be compassionate, everybody makes mistakes
- Identify an opportunity to demonstrate true forgiveness: retrain your thinking and wish the offender well
- Work out how you will undertake it, in your mind or with the person involved
- Follow through: forgive the person, but maintain perspective – you don’t need to become their best friend either
- Assess changes in your feelings over the next few days.