There’s a verse in the Bible that says a merry heart does us good and acts just like a medicine (Proverbs 17:22). I’d agree with that! A couple of weeks ago I visited my aunt. We don’t see each other as often as I’d like but when we do we tend to first of all, over a cup of tea usually, solve most of the problems of the world. I’m only sorry there aren’t any politicians there to join in the conversation! Then once that’s done somehow or other we always get onto other topics, topics that make us laugh. I love those times! Sitting with someone very special, a sense of connection that draws you to each other, the warmth of that connection bringing joy to the heart and then – the laughter. It does indeed act just like a medicine. Sometimes we laugh until the tears roll down my face, until my tummy aches with it all, and then we take a big breath and laugh some more.
…a merry heart does us good and acts just like a medicine…
A few years ago, I was doing some teaching on managing stress. It was an evening session and the attendees were all nurses, some of them having come straight from work. It was a heavy topic – most of them were going through some sort of serious stress, so at the end of the presentation, I put up a clip of a baby laughing. You know those clips that are all over YouTube? I watched their faces, and at first it seemed the tiredness would win, but one by one they started to smile, and before the 4-minute clip had finished most of the nurses were laughing. It was great to see the change. Yes, they had learned a lot about stress, but they were also reminded that a good laugh can make the world of difference. It won’t change the circumstances but it does make a difference. What it does is makes you feel good so that you are more likely to see stress as a challenge rather than a threat. When this happens, you can face demanding and difficult situations constructively and with a positive attitude. This often results in better outcomes.
Laughter makes you feel good so that you are more likely to see stress as a challenge rather than a threat. You can face demanding and difficult situations constructively and with a positive attitude. This often results in better outcomes.
Here are some other reasons you should laugh more:
If you want to read more you can go here – you’ll find lots of information as well as links to scientific studies just in case you don’t believe laughter can be so good for you!
For a week I’ve made excuses. ‘It’s too cold – this is not an excuse,’ I told myself, ‘it’s a fact.’ And it was cold. Minus 4 and even -5 degrees Celsius IS cold! But today my brain and body are telling me they want to get outside. ‘It’s only -2 degrees this morning,’ I mutter, ‘a walk will do you good.’
The upside of a freezing night is the brilliant day that usually follows. So, while my brain and body are chatting about the need for a walk, my eyes are drawn to the sun’s rays bouncing off the window in the entrance, and my ears are tuned in to the exuberant twittering of a family of wrens flitting through the ferns outside the kitchen. Then I am wrapping the gray scarf around my neck, shoving both arms into the thigh length polo fleece jacket and pulling on the cute beanie and mittens I bought when we were in Ireland.
Frost-touched gravel crunches underfoot, three of the alpacas look across at me, momentarily interrupting their chewing. The other two ignore me. A neighbor flies out of his drive, going too fast as he usually does. He waves and smiles and I wave and smile in return as I pick up the pace.
I am choosing to be mindful today, to enjoy every minute of this walk. I’m getting good at bringing my attention back to what I’m doing in the present moment. So I notice that even the leafless trees sparkle in the sunshine, I see the patches of frost shining on the dark road in time to avoid them. I breathe deeply of the fresh morning air and I feel it doing me good!
I am reminded that we are all connected, and it's good.
I hear the school bus before I see it. The driver and I wave and smile as it whizzes past. We’re old friends although we’ve never met – greeting each other like this for a couple of years must mean something! Neighbours wave as they flash by on their way to work or to drop the children off at school. I am reminded that we are all connected and it’s good. The horse on the corner hangs his head over the fence snuffling as I walk by. So I greet him and say ‘hello’ to my favourite tree on the other side of the road. I am convinced it flourishes because I talk to it whenever I pass by! A couple of golfers are teeing off and they wave before settling into serious golfing business.
Being outside, in nature makes us feel happy.
Research tells us how good it is to get outside, to be in nature; how it stimulates production of neurotransmitters that even out our mood and make us feel happy. I don’t need the research though; I know it, experience it right now. I feel calm, peaceful and focused.
I sit by a warm fire with my cup of Monk Pear tea, savouring the aroma, the flavor, the feel of the mug in my hands, and I am grateful that today I didn't make an excuse; I went for a walk.