Yes, Laughter Really Is Good For You

Ask anyone that knows me and they can tell you, I like to laugh. I like to make people laugh, I like to laugh with people, and yes, I’ve been known to even laugh all by myself.  I also like comedies, a lot. I like to watch them, read them, and see them play out all around me, and the more I look for humor, the more I find it. Proof once again that what you focus on expands.

I find that the more I laugh, the better I feel, which makes sense in light of the fact that laughter is the best medicine. Laughter really IS good for you, and it nearly rivals exercise when it comes to health benefits and brain-boosting powers. And when it comes to the importance of humor in your overall mental and physical health, the list goes on and on.

Psychology Today reports that laughter reduces pain and allows us to tolerate discomfort, and reduces blood sugar levels. It’s also been proven to improve your job performance, especially if your work depends on creativity and solving complex problems. Mayo Clinic adds to those findings with a report showing laughter has been proven to stimulate numerous organs, enhance the intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulate the heart, lungs and muscles, and increase the endorphins that are released by your brain.

A good laugh has also been shown to activate and relieve your stress response, and here in the midst of cold and flu season, a good laugh has also been shown to improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can impact your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.

So let me ask you, when was the last time you laughed? I mean really LAUGHED, that holding your stomach, laugh so hard you could cry, laugh? If it’s been a while, let me ask, why? Laughter is important, but I get that it could seem like a great distance to travel for some of you, so here are a few tips -

1 – Smile. You don’t have to bust out a belly laugh while you’re sitting here reading this, just think of something that makes you happy and smile. You are setting the stage this way, a great laugh always starts with a smile, so get ready!

2 – Laugh at yourself. Look through the past week of memories – surely you have done SOMETHING funny. Even if you didn’t mean for it to be funny! I can list off five things I’ve done today that are inadvertently funny, surely you can think of something in this past week to make you laugh. Sometimes hindsight is 20-20, and even something that didn’t SEEM funny at the time is worth a few giggles in retrospect.

3 – Laugh at something else. Netflix, RedBox, Amazon and iTunes are standing by with hours worth of humor at your disposal. Even when I can’t commit to a movie, I will catch a re-run of Seinfeld (personal fave) or even The Big Bang Theory – 22 minutes crammed with something to make you laugh. If you don’t have a TV, head to YouTube, cat in a box videos are standing by.

The more time you spend looking for the humor in life, the better everything will be – from your stress levels to your overall physical and mental health, Bottom line, laughter really is good for you and your quality of life.

Feeling Fragmented? Could Be Too Much Technology

Last week a couple of friends and I were talking about technology and smart phones, and it wasn’t long before the topic of iPads came up. One friend has one, the other wants one. I bought my iPad when it was released, but it wasn’t long before I was kind of worn out by it and had decided to let it go.

My iPad wasn’t one of those impulse purchases that I found I didn’t use, it was actually something I found that I was using too much. While the iPad was supposed to be for scheduling, client notes and presentations, I found that it was only being used 10-15% of the time for work, the rest for play. There wasn’t anything happening on Facebook or Twitter I wasn’t aware of, I was downloading more books and magazines than I could read, Words with Friends was happening in real time, and I was spending more and more time connected to my iPad, and less and less time actually engaged in my life.

The more time I was spending plugged in, the more fragmented I was beginning to feel and in just a few months time I truly understood the importance of unplugging on a regular basis. I felt jangled, stressed, and my neck was killing me. My “home” time was disrupted and barrage of social media never-ending. The emails that I easily shut off on my phone, came to my iPad unchecked at all hours of the day and night (not the iPad’s fault, I just had my settings open to allow the delivery), and I had push notifications turned on for practically everything. That thing beeped, flashed, and lit up continually and I was there for most of it.

While I won’t go so far as to say that I had an internet addiction, I was definitely realizing that having the “world at my fingertips” was indeed becoming a problem. While the iPad was supposed to make my life easier, I felt like it was actually making it harder. The iPhone is one thing, I mean, I don’t care how whiz bang that thing is, it is SMALL and I don’t feel compelled to WORK or spend much time on it, I just use it to stay in the loop during business hours and have some great music for the gym.

Not everyone has a down the rabbit hole experience with their tablet. In fact, Gary bought his two weeks before I got mine and uses it for business, and streaming Pandora. He doesn’t care about Facebook, and prefers to read his books and magazines in paper form. Many others are able to use their tablet for occasional work, occasional entertainment, and leave it at that. But I was ALL IN, and I know that I’m not alone.

If you feel like you are spending too much time using technology, or are noticing higher stress levels, disrupted sleep, decreased productivity or poor posture, take a break. And even if you aren’t feeling any negative effects, check in with yourself on a regular basis. Fragmented and more involved in the digital world is no good, take off your shoes, put your feet on the ground and spend some time in the real world, it’s worth it, I promise.