A laugh a day can chuckle the stress away

Laughter is good for your health, and that’s good for your life both at home and at work. In an article for the Globe and Mail, Bill Howatt writes, “Did you know that 15 minutes of laughter burns 50 calories? That’s equivalent to a mild workout. Laughter is associated with happiness, which is linked to good mental health.”

Howatt continues, “When you feel happier you’ll be more productive at home and at work and reduce your stress.”

To increase the humor in your life, Howatt recommends evaluating these areas:

Awareness
“How happy are you most days? If you’re not sure, take a moment to get your Happiness IQ baseline. Happy people are more likely to laugh, which can create positive emotions. Track your happiness IQ score every 30 days for 12 months. You might be surprised that with focus and intention you might be able to increase your happiness one laugh at a time.”

Accountability
“Regardless of your level of happiness, there are things you can do in the short-term to increase your happiness and improve your long-term happiness. One example of a positive action for long-term happiness is paying attention to your mental health, which is directly influenced by the strength of your coping skills. As well, finding and maintaining healthy partner relationships can boost your level of happiness.”

Action
“It can be difficult to sit down and create 15 minutes of belly-busting laughter, but it’s possible to find positive memories that get you smiling from insight. As you replay the memory, you may recall events that made you laugh.”

The following is a simple framework Howatt offers for encouraging and enjoying laughter daily.

1. Define your laughter factors
“These are the things you do to increase the likelihood that you will laugh. The first action is to pick three things that you know can make you laugh, such as a TV series or bloopers, YouTube videos, comedians, a friend who makes you laugh, games, and other activities you find fun. Don’t pick any activities that involve drinking or drugs; this microskill’s focus is to leverage your natural brain chemistry.”

2. Determine your daily need and time to engage in your laughter factors
“Everyone is busy, but scheduling an exact time, like going to the gym, is not necessary. Schedule zones of time in your day that are flexible. For example, if you finish work at 5 p.m., haven’t had a day of laughter and fun and want to add some, you know that after dinner you have a few hours to take some time for intentional laughter.”

3. Turn off distractions and engage in your laughter factors
“When you decide to engage your laughter factors, turn off the world and just be in the moment. The sole purpose is get a break from the world and demands of life and to take time for you to enjoy and laugh.”

4. Evaluate your laughter experience
“At the end of a planned laughter period, determine if the laughter factor you picked worked. Typically, give something two to three tries before you remove it from your laughter bank and replace it with something else.”

Howatt concludes that “the goal is to bring some laughter to your life to give you a release, promote happiness and mental health. This microskill is by no means a cure for mental health, but it is good medicine. Our happiness will, in the end, be defined by what we think and do. Happiness is subjective and can change. However, the more we laugh healthily, the more likely we will perceive we are happy.”

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