Hello, everyone 🙂 I was back at work this week after having an extended Easter break. Can’t say I was overjoyed at the thought of returning to work, but very grateful to have a job to return to (the current economic climate being what it is, every extra day of employment is a bonus). It took a while to get back into the swing of things, and I was horribly nervous when people came in to ask questions about our services etc ; after just a week off, I was a bit brain-dead and stupid. But I got through it ok and people seemed happy with my responses. It’s probably just me who thought I was useless!
One of my tasks today was to write a book review. The book, “Love Laughter and Longevity : the Art and Science of Wellbeing” by Janni Goss, talks about laughter and its positive effects on our health, longevity, and quality of life. As my organisation assists people with dementia, and encourages positive thinking and celebrating the small joys in life, this book could benefit many people who are dealing with the difficulties that dementia inevitably brings. But laughter is a well-documented medicine for many of the things that ail us, whether we are experiencing illness or not.
There are physical changes that occur when we laugh : blood flow increases, endorphins are released, cortisol levels are lowered and the immune response is improved. Intense laughter (whether faked or not – the brain can’t tell the difference) also provides aerobic exercise, which is far more enjoyable than time spent at the gym.
Janni is an advocate for Laughter Yoga and its benefits. Over 100 countries around the world have Laughter Yoga groups, and its positive effect on people with illnesses ranging from high blood pressure to cancer has been studied and reported in numerous medical journals. It’s certainly an interesting topic to read about (a lot of my reading-for-work tasks are pretty dull and make me go a bit cross-eyed) and worth further investigation if you’re into self-improvement and inner health (whilst improving your outer health at the same time!). You can read more from Janni HERE or learn about Laughter Yoga throughout Australia HERE
All that laughter and being happy reminded me of this little canvas I painted on the weekend. At first, when I had finished it, I felt a bit unsure about the whole “bee happy” thing. Sometimes we’re just NOT, right? Sometimes we are decidedly unhappy and a bit down in the dumps. But I guess what Janni’s book and philosophy encourages is to embrace the small joyful moments in life and use them to promote well-being in our bodies and minds. It’s kinda like faking it til you make it. Not avoiding dealing with sadness but, rather, using joy to combat it and face it head on. And you might as well have a few extra happy hormones to help you, right?
Having said all that, it’s important to let people know you’re struggling. No one should suggest you “pretend” to be happy if you’re not. That’s way too much pressure! I believe happiness itself is a bit of a myth. It’s such a vague concept. No one is happy 100% of the time ; how can you be, when there is so much suffering and pain in the world?
But I think it’s important to be content with your situation, be in the moment, and be happy about the small things in life, focusing on the good, and doing what you can to minimise the “bad”. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sad or upsetting moments in our life, but how often do we give the same amount of energy to joyous moments, savouring them and replaying them in our minds? The brain can’t differentiate between something that is a memory and something that is happening now. So, we should try and hold on to happy memories and use them to boost our spirits when we are down, rather than re-living those moments that caused us pain and distress.
Easy to say. But I think every extra weapon we can have in our arsenal against the blues is a bonus and worth a try. I don’t think I will be doing a class of Laughter Yoga any time soon (I’m not a joining-in kinda gal and I would spend the entire time worrying about what I look like when I’m laughing and whether or not I was doing things right) but there are definitely principles that I could use to be more positive or, at least, trick my brain into feeling happier, until I am able to feel it for real.
Be happy today. And if you can’t be, I’m sending good thoughts your way and a wish for a happier tomorrow. Hang in there x