Lately, I’ve come to wonder if one of the true secrets to happiness is to just enjoy life.
With life, we get served veritable portions of the good, the joyful and the “I wish I could toss it into the trash without tasting it” kind. The unexpected never fails to show up whether we want the experience or not.
Not to say that it’s easy enjoying being miserable. It’s not. It’s messy and uncomfortable. We want to run away from it as quickly as possible, but sometimes we just have to face whatever it is.
“A person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused.”
~ Shirley MacLaine, Actress
My parents have been married for nearly 60 years. A few years ago I asked my mom what she thought was the secret ingredient to their long-term relationship. She giggled like a teenager and said, “Your father makes me laugh every single day.”
I know my father, and what she says is true. He could be facing the grimmest circumstances and he will never fail to see the bright shiny object inside it all.
You may have guessed that he is a true blue, card-carrying optimist. But it’s much more than that. He’s always enjoyed a good laugh for more than just telling a good joke for people to laugh at. For him it’s never been about being center stage. For him it’s about feeling good. He’s been able to shift moments of day-to-day details, often stressful, to laugh and share a smile with someone else. My dad has inspired me to recognize how joyfully absurd life can be at times.
“Laughter is an instant vacation.”
~ Milton Berle, Comedian
Maybe my father has known all along something that others sometimes don’t notice about the power of laughter and humor. He figured out that humor not only creates smiles in others, but also his own feelings of happiness.
Recognizing that each and every one of us has a happiness set point, we can raise it by creating new habits that promote feeling happy each day. It’s a great way to relieve stress, and the benefit it has on a love relationship is like an instant vacation to take together!
There is actually an Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH) that has fostered many organizations and activities focused on the benefits of laughter. The wake of the sad demise of the late Robin Williams has called to mind many of his memorable film roles. One is his portrayal of Patch Adams. The real life Dr. Adams founded the Gesundheit! Institute. How about Laughter Yoga? Laughercize, anyone? Tee hee!
These are all real. No joke! In fact, adding to the positive psychology arena there’s an entire humor movement that focuses on how humor and laughter impacts health.
Let’s stir these thoughts into our days and our relationships:
1. Find and share humor daily. It relieves stress and increases happiness into becoming a new habit.
2. Humor helps to alleviate unwanted thoughts, promotes well-being and improves sleep.
3. Humor helps to shift our, “What if?” thinking traps that can be overwhelming.
A challenge for us is to notice those moments when life is joyfully absurd in our day-to-day. When we take it so seriously, how does that affect our overall attitude and ability to relate to those we care about?
It could be as simple as bumping into our partner as we put our jacket on. No need to feel embarrassed—we can learn to laugh at ourselves. Or how your husband puts his shirt on inside out? Instead of making him feel bad about it, smile and enjoy his absent-mindedness. Or when we get lost again even though we’re following the GPS’s robotic voice. Laugh! Let it reroute us!
Laughter will reroute us in those moments when we’re unsure or being especially hard on ourselves or others.
So let’s lighten up and form some new happiness habits!
Life can be joyfully absurd! We just have to notice it.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Guenevere Neufeld / Editor: Travis May
Photo: Benjamin Evan Combs