Real Life. Real News. Real Voices.
Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard.
Join HuffPost Plus

Joy Secret Number 9: Laughter

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

According to Hafiz, laughter is the "glorious sound of a soul waking up!" And I agree!

When was the last time you laughed so hard you had tears running down your cheeks? If you can remember it, wasn't it fabulous?

If you can't, its time to do it again!

People light up and connect with laughter. Last night, we went to a salsa dancing evening and the smiles on people's faces as they tried to make their bodies move to the rhythm were a joy to behold! The pure joy and laughter that come from those who loved to dance was infectious.

Although I can't go through all the literature and research that proves laughter does what we know it does, we all know the benefits of a great laugh!

So often I hear stories from people who have been in my presentations telling me that they started with a migraine and laughing for an hour in my session had cleared it. Others had been sick and felt completely normal afterward. Still others have told me their back pain went away!

So it might not be scientific, but it's my personal (truthful!) experience!

Smile with your eyes

If you can't find a way to have a good belly laugh right now, then smile! But smile with your eyes as well. When you do that, the crows feet muscles are thought to send a message to your brain saying "release endorphins!"

Well, not literally, but our physiology changes, and that is the effect! It's simple but effective. Just smiling makes a difference to how you feel. And there is evidence to back it up!

In fact, if you need a mood lift, then stick a chopstick between your teeth and make sure your lips are off it! You will be releasing your endorphins -- the body's natural happy drugs! Not only that, but you will make everyone else smile around you as a) you look funny and b) their mirror neurons respond to you!

Not only that, but a recent study shows that if you smile -- even a fake one -- you can reduce your body's stress response!

So hey, what can you lose. If you feel lousy, just force yourself to smile and make your eyes do it as well and see what happens. You might find that you and everyone else ends up laughing!

Look for the funny side!

There is almost always a funny side to most things. Sometimes we have to look for a long time! Or wait a while before we can actually see or sense the funny side! But make the conscious effort now.

Look at your miserable memories and see if you can reflect on them and find something funny about the whole process. You will be amazed at how it changes the way you feel!

If you are experiencing some problem right now, is there any way you can find something funny about it? Anything? Try hard! I can do it most of the time -- and it does make a difference. At the very least, it stops me taking myself so seriously. And that's always a good thing!

Joy fairies!

There is no joy fairy in life, sadly. You have to be your own joy fairy! In fact, you are the chief joy fairy in your life!

I talk about this, and we have pink magic wands that light up and make a magic wand BRRRIIINNG type noise and they are extremely popular! People hurl themselves forward to catch them when I throw a few out! It's very funny!

These wands are a great reminder to find the funny side of things. They rarely fail to make people laugh! You can make teenagers invisible (to you anyway!), vaporize stress, clear bad moods, and all sorts of other wonderful things. Children are experts at using them, so we should take lessons!

Your mission -- should you choose to accept it -- is to be the chief joy fairy for everyone you are around today! Especially yourself. Make your own wand if you need to -- it helps!

Learn from the children

How often do children stay miserable? They can be hysterically laughing five minutes after they were sobbing! We need to remember that gift! And start consciously practicing it again.

So many grown ups avoid doing fun or silly things because of the FOWOT disease: fear of what others think! The bad news is that we let this fear control so much of our lives and yet the truth is that no one else is ever thinking about us! They are too busy worrying about what WE are thinking about them!

So lighten up, loosen up and be silly more often. Who cares what someone else thinks! They are secretly jealous I bet that you can have such a good time. Behaving like this can also make you very popular!

A magic moment book

Imagine you have a lemon in your hand. Really see it, a vivid yellow and beautiful shape. Feel it -- that "soft firmness" of a lemon. Smell it -- that tangy, citrus smell. Now grab a knife and cut it in half and see the juice running away from it and notice how much stronger the smell is. Now, cup it in your hand and lift it to your nose to really enhance the smell. Now open your mouth and imagine yourself taking a big bite of this lemon! Are you salivating?

Or if you wake up from a nightmare that was really vivid -- how do you feel? Is your heart racing, your palms sweating and you are gasping?

Just as the brain thinks you are eating a real lemon when you imagine it, or you are actually living the nightmare, if you recall a wonderful, funny, laughter-filled time as vividly as you can, your body might release some of those feel good endorphins and make you actually feel better! It's worth a try anyway!

I tell people to either make an electronic photo album and use it as a screensaver, or have a digital photo frame on their desk or at home or -- so 20th century -- to actually buy an old fashioned photo album and jam it full of all the photos you can find of wonderful laughter filled times in your life! I call it a "magic moment" book.

Whenever you feel miserable you just look at all or some of them. Do it with a smile -- real or fake -- and I bet you soon feel a lot better!

I save up silly videos that come to me through email or YouTube as well, and if I want to feel better I watch them! I have attached a couple of you to see today!

I know they are silly but they still make me laugh!

What about creating a new ritual of having comedy video night at home once every month or two weeks?

Make a conscious effort to bring more laughter into your life -- no one else will unless you are fortunate enough to have a toddler!

Go on, wake up your soul! Laugh! Lots.

Amanda Gore
Join me on FB, LInked in or twitter!