Every month for the last several months, we have focused upon one of the top twelve contributing factors to a FabYOUlous Life as determined by Dan Baker, Ph.D and co-author of the book, What Happy People Know.
This month’s Fab Factor is HUMOR and that seems appropriate since we started the month off with April Fool’s Day and today (here in Colorado where I live) we are dealing with Mother Nature’s sense of humor as we dig out from a spring snowstorm (after it was in the high 70’s last week!)
Humor is a quality that is so endearing and yet often undervalued in today’s society. When I first met my husband, I knew right away that I was smitten. He was tall and handsome and kind and yet, there was something more that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. As I lay awake that night pondering the events of our first date, it occurred to me that I had spent a lot of the evening laughing. My hubby (though I didn’t quite have him pegged as my future husband just yet–that didn’t happen til around the 4th date–HA!) was genuinely funny. His sense of humor was so evident as he told me silly stories about him and his daughter and in his gentle teasing nature. I was dazzled by his looks, impressed with his manners and truly delighted by his sense of humor. Now, nearly nine years later, it is that same sense of humor that brings a sense of fun to our marriage and helps to keep me from getting too serious when work and family demands start to stress me out. He is still delighting me every single day, and though the dashing good looks and wonderful manners are still there–it is his humor that I find myself most drawn to.
The cool thing about humor is that not only does it bring more pleasure and enjoyment to life; it also provides real, tangible health benefits as well.
“Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.”
~Paul E. McGhee Ph.D
A powerful antidote to stress, conflict and pain; nothing works faster or more effectively to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. A healthy sense of humor and the ability to share a hearty laugh has immeasurable value when it comes to supporting physical, emotional and social well being.
Physical Benefits of Humor
-Prevents heart disease: Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against cardiovascular problems including heart attack.
-Boosts immunity: Laughter increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, while decreasing stress hormones, thus improving your resistance to disease.
-Fights pain: Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
-Relaxes the body: A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
Emotional Benefits of Humor
-Relaxes and recharges: A good sense of humor reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more.
-Releases distressing emotions: Simply put–you can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.
-Shifts perspective: A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you to avoid feeling overwhelmed and allow you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light.
Social Benefits of Humor
-Improved relationships: All emotional sharing builds strong and lasting relationship bonds, but sharing humor and play also adds joy, vitality, and resilience to relationships.
-Promotes spontaneity: Humor gets you out of your head and away from your troubles thus allowing you to be more “in the moment” and spontaneous.
-Tears down walls: Humor helps you to forget judgments, criticisms, and doubts. This allows you to see people for who they really are and connect on a more authentic level.
Despite the numerous benefits that humor can bring to our lives, there are still some people for whom humor doesn’t come naturally. Fortunately, humor is a trait that can be learned and cultivated–it just takes a little practice. If you tend to be someone who takes life a bit more seriously than necessary, try the following suggestions to incorporate more humor into your days…
Seven Fab-YOU-lous Ways to Add More Humor to Your Life…
1.) Hang out with fun, playful people. Humor is contagious. By spending time with people who know how to laugh (at themselves and at life), you will begin to see things more humorously as well. Watching as others incorporate more play into their lives will also help you to do the same. Who knows, maybe you can be the one to inspire your friends to more playfulness by inviting them over for a night of Drunken Jenga.
2.) Learn a few jokes: Everyone appreciates a good joke and everyone appreciates someone who can tell a good joke. You can be the one to brighten someone’s day with a chuckle just by having a few good jokes memorized. Here’s one to get you started–What’s the difference between snowmen and snow women? Snowballs! Hahaha! Okay–it’s a little off color, but admit it–you laughed.
3.) Gravitate towards laughter: Sometimes humor and laughter are private, a shared joke among a small group, but that’s usually not the case. More often, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor that you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s so funny?”
4.) Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up: Keep a toy on your desk or in your car. Put up a funny poster in your office. Choose a computer screensaver that makes you laugh (mine is a Calvin & Hobbes cartoon). Frame photos of you and your family or friends having fun. All of these things will serve as reminders to you to keep things in perspective and celebrate the fun and humorous moments in life.
5.) Laugh at yourself: Laughing at others can be cruel, but laughing at yourself can be a great mood booster. When you can sense that you need to lighten up, remember–the best way to take yourself less seriously is to talk about times when you took yourself too seriously.
6.) Smile: Smiling is the beginning of laughter. Like laughter, smiling is contagious. Pioneers in “laugh therapy,” find that it is possible to laugh without even experiencing a funny event. The same holds for smiling. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling–you’ll be amazed at how many smiles you’ll receive in return.
7.) Pay attention to children: Kiddos are naturals when it comes to humor and play. Just spending some time with little ones is sure to put a smile on your face and humor in your heart.
Humor, more than nearly any other attribute is one that can break down barriers, strengthen bonds, shift perspectives and bring more enjoyment to life. No wonder it makes the cut as one of our twelve Fab Factors for a FabYOUlous life.