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Sunday, 27 September 2015

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Even animals find time to laugh

Take time to laugh and have fun

Dr. Raymond A. Moody's book 'Laugh after laugh: the healing power of humour' is an interesting read. He is a well-known philosopher, psychologist, physician and author in the USA. Dr. Moody credits his sense of humour for getting him through the terrible grind of medical school. Yet not once, in all those years of training, did his professors bring up the health benefits of laughter.

"As time went on," Moody relates in his book, "1 came to feel that a human being's ability to laugh is just as valid an indicator of his health as are all those other things that doctors check."

Gradually, many members of the medical establishment are coming around to the same thinking. Dr. William Fry, Jr., a Stanford University researcher, has studied the beneficial effects of laughter for more than 30 years. "When we laugh," Fry explains, "muscles are activated. When we stop laughing, these muscles relax. Since muscle tension magnifies pain, many people with arthritis, rheumatism and other painful conditions benefit greatly from a healthy dose of laughter."

Laughter is your birthright, a natural part of life that is innate and inborn. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Even if you did not grow up in a household where laughter was a common sound, you can learn to laugh at any stage of life.

You can begin by setting aside special times to seek out humor and laughter and build from there. Eventually, you'll want to incorporate humor and laughter into the fabric of your life, finding it naturally in everything you do.

Here are some ways to start:

Count your blessings. The simple act of considering the good things in your life will distance you from negative thoughts that are a barrier to humour and laughter. When you're in a state of sadness, you have further to travel to get to humour and laughter.

When you hear laughter, move toward it. Sometimes humour and laughter are private, a shared joke among a small group, but usually not. More often, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humour you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, "What's funny?"

Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily-both at themselves and at life's absurdities-and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious.

Bring humor into conversations. Ask people, "What's the funniest thing that happened to you today? This week? In your life?

How do you develop your sense of humour?

The easiest answer, according to Dr. moody, is to take yourself less seriously. The most essential characteristic that helps us laugh is not taking ourselves too seriously. We've all known the classic tight-jawed gloomy Gus who takes everything with deathly seriousness and never laughs at anything. No fun there!


Laughter is your birthright, a natural part of life

Maybe, some events are clearly sad and not occasions for laughter. But most events in life don't carry an overwhelming sense of either sadness or delight. They fall into the gray zone of ordinary life-giving you the choice to laugh or not.

Laugh at yourself. Share your embarrassing moments. The best way to take yourself less seriously is to talk about times when you took yourself too seriously. Attempt to laugh at situations rather than bemoan them. Look for the humour in a bad situation, and uncover the irony and absurdity of life. This will help improve your mood and the mood of those around you.

Keep things in right perspective. Many things in life are beyond our control-particularly the behaviour of other people. While we might think taking the weight of the world on our shoulders is admirable, in the long run it's unrealistic, unproductive, unhealthy, and even egotistical.

You have to make time for laughter. I know of a successful salesman, who uses humour with his customers-and this means setting aside moments for collecting and practicing funny stories. "This has been a key to building some warm and lasting business relationships," he says, citing a favorite line from comedian Victor Borge: "Laughter is the shortest distance between two people."

I also know of Business consultant who found herself so squeezed for time that she felt she might be losing her sense of fun and humour-especially where her husband and children were concerned. "I decided to see to it that my children received a daily dose of humour," she says.

She started off by putting funny notes and cartoons in her kids' school lunches, on mirrors and on the refrigerator door. The rest of her family picked up on all this. "One morning when I woke up grouchy, my son came into the kitchen wearing a big clown nose," she recalls. "I couldn't help laughing. This changed my whole outlook.'

Laugh when you need it most. One of my friends, a script writer for a local politico, tells of being taken suddenly ill in an airport. He was rushed into an ambulance, and the paramedics strapped him down, head toward the front of the ambulances a big orange oxygen tank jammed between his legs. "Are you all right?" the attendant asked. "Yes," my friend replied, "unless you make a sudden stop." Seeing the humor in his own helpless plight, he says, "made the whole experience easier for me and for everyone else in the ambulance.

Laughter is a skill we can all acquire-because it comes naturally. But it's also something that has to be nurtured. Perhaps no one recognized this more than Charlie Chaplin, who summed it up best: " Joy in one's heart and some laughter on one's lips is a sign that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life."

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