It has been said by many that life is a game, an assertion with which many agree.
But how to win? Some think that accruing great material wealth will achieve it, and others fame and power. These are often what society suggests are the pinnacles of achievement in our society. These will attract other's approval, "the pretty girl," the social or job promotion.
Unfortunately, these courses of action do not usually bring the happiness or peace of mind that the media cracks them up to yield. Just note the hair color of each of the last many Presidents of the U.S. when they enter office, and the color and scarcity of it when the leave, whether it's a one or two-term President.
Few people know how to cooperate, to agree to disagree, to mediate and work through conflicts and differences of opinion. As a psychotherapist, mediator and stress management consultant, I spend a fair amount of time educating my clients about how to listen, how to look at the world from their spouse's or business partner's point of view, how to be at ease and relaxed in the midst of what appears as conflict.
This kind of psychological and emotional education is most minimally part of formal education yet it is the stumbling block of kids, teenagers and adults, often for the duration of life.
Thanks to the work of Dr. Daniel Goleman in emotional intelligence, we have a phrase that has to some extent entered mainstream, though it is in need of much further spreading and cultivation in families, in schools and in business.
When we become emotionally intelligent in addition to intellectually and physically, we get to experiences the more emboldened expressions of love, affection, intimacy, with a spouse, a lover, a friend, even a business partner. Yes, when people initiate a business that is deeply meaningful to them, that stirs their hearts and souls, these attributes of love can and should certainly show up in a business context.
In fact, it is at this point, when people love what they do and they love going home to someone they love or to a family they love, before you know it, they are spending a good part of every day in love!
The feeling of love provides us with a sense of connectedness and meaning. When we feel a lot of love daily, routinely, we release greater amounts of "the love hormone," oxytocin. Science now informs us that the release of oxytocin provides a series of advantageous properties not least of which are a sense of euphoria and well-being.
Laughter causes a similar kind of hormonal and bio-chemical response. Certainly cortisol is inhibited at times of laughter, there is a euphoric sense of relief which occurs through the release of endorphins in the brain. Laughter effectively exercises the cells so that their cellular respiration, just as with exercise, is increased, which also means that cellular detoxification is accelerated.
Further, laughter dilates blood vessels increasing blood flow, improves immune function and obviously reduces tension and stress and love has many of the same characteristics.
There are significant sociological implications here as well. When someone is in a state of love, it permeates their being and it influences their overall aura. People want to be around them--there's a beautiful serenity, a sense of peace emitting from them.
When people are quick to laugh, to smile, to express joy, we tend to gravitate toward them as well; after all, who doesn't want more laughter and joy in their lives?
We surely never needed science to convince us that love and laughter, smiling and experiencing joy brings we humans a greater sense of joy, happiness, peace and well-being, the virtues of which are obvious and best in abundance. But, not by any surprise, the physiological studies now bear out the instinctive knowledge of their health benefits, psychological, emotional and physical.
Fame or fortune do not bring these attributes in themselves. They can either help or hinder the presence of the attributes realized through the ongoing experience of love and laughter.
That's why I suggest that those who embody love and laughter as an ongoing feature of their daily routine, more than anything else, win the game of life. They'll also be multiplying it among all those with whom they spend time.
It could get to a point of epidemic and we may just find some diseases go into remission, ancient anger and resentments melt to nothing and old rivals even between neighbors and nations simply go up in a puff of smoke when love and laughter enter their presence. It's awfully difficult to remain angry while laughing or feeling a deep sense of love. Violence is also rendered rather useless and undesirable. Indeed, we may have found the best weapons yet--they also cost nothing and render the highest results.