Happy face in a sea of sad and scared faces

You may be looking at the loss of many things right now. There is one thing you can keep – your sense of humor!
My Chinese client sent me this video a few weeks ago, looking at the silly, fun ways people could support each other while restricted to staying in their homes.

It’s called Fun in Quarantine with comedian Jesse Appell at a Coronavirus Charity Show.

WATCHING THIS VIDEO WILL IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH!

This is no scam.

Laughter is good medicine

I’m sure you have heard of the healing effects of laughter. Here is what laughter can do for you:

  • Invigorate your body – Although you still want to exercise while you are at home, laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, which is good for your heart, lungs and muscles.
  • Lower your blood pressure – You increase endorphins, stimulate circulation, and reduce the Adrenalin that wears out your heart and body.
  • Improve your immune system. – Positive thoughts can release neuropeptides that counter the effects of stress on your sleep, digestive system, and the ability to fight off illness, or at least diminish the damaging effects an illness might have.
  • Relieve pain. Laughter produces its own natural painkillers. It also shifts your focus away from what hurts.

Your emotions shape your reality

Try this: Close your eyes and clear your mind. Let your thoughts float away. Be still for 10 seconds with an empty mind.

Now think about something. What was your first thought? How did it make you feel?

You are now in your Observer Mind. You need to activate your Observer Mind to know when it’s time to shift your thinking.

The stories that are swirling around us trigger our negativity bias. We are facing some scary truths, and we tend to dwell on the negative aspects we read and hear out of survival. When we are afraid, what we interpret as reality narrows, blocking out what else could be true and possible. We don’t hear and see the details that are neutral or positive. Our brains are wired to seek unpleasant news.

Carl Sagan said, “Where we have strong emotions, we’re liable to fool ourselves.”  Fear is filling in the foreground of our mental pictures.

There is truth about diseases, dying, and the effect of pandemics on our livelihoods. There is also truth about people recovering and helping each other to find laughter even in the dark. You choose what to focus on. You live by the stories you are believing and telling others.

Can you bring laughter and hope into the foreground, shifting fear to the rear?

How to Improve your sense of humor

Ask yourself, what are the new conversations emerging from this time? We will get through this if we consciously uplift each other. Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, wrote, “If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit.”

Here are tips to help you brighten the day for yourself and others:

  1. Do not give in to feelings of resignation and helplessness. You can outsmart your brain when you stay awake to what is going on in your body, emotions, and mind.
  2. Release the tension in your body. Notice where you are tight. Every time you hear a negative message, go to this place and smile as you breathe in energy to release the tension.
  3. Shift your focus. Find a few photos, greeting cards, or pet videos on Facebook that make you chuckle. Put a picture that makes you smile next to your computer and on your refrigerator. Keep funny movies, books, and TV programs on hand for when you need a humor boost. Check out the funny videos on YouTube. Look up laughter yoga online.
  4. Expand your perspective. What are you doing now that when you tell people in the future, you will laugh at yourself? Why not laugh now? Even if it feels forced, practice laughing. You still release stress-releasing hormones when you fake a smile.
  5. Share a laugh. Make it a habit to spend time with friends who make you laugh. Return the favor by sharing funny stories or jokes with those around you. Play a game with them over the phone or online. Call a funny friend.
  6. Coach others to change the stories they are dwelling on. Focus on uplifting others. Don’t connect and complain. Share what you notice that is making you smile, like how people are helping each other. Ask what goodness they are noticing, too.
  7. Serve others in some way. It isn’t difficult to find ways to bring smiles to people’s faces. The food banks need healthy volunteers; many are delivering food to people who must stay home. Or consider your neighbors – offer to shop for someone who must stay home if you aren’t in a high-risk group. Animal rescue shelters need help. Look for opportunities in your community to be of service.
  8. Bid everyone you see good health and safety. Fear is contagious but so is hope. Your neighbors will appreciate a wave and a wish.
  9. Stay in the moment. Don’t speculate about the future. Yes, you want to ensure you are prepared for bad things to happen. Prepare, and then direct your attention to what is hopeful right now.
  10. Know what isn’t funny. Don’t laugh at the expense of other. Use your best judgment to discern a good joke from a bad or hurtful one.

Hara Estroff Marano said, “It takes frequent small positive experiences to tip the scales toward happiness.” Choose to laugh as often as you can.

References

Hara Estroff Marano, Our Brain’s Negative Bias: Why our brains are more highly attuned to negative news. Psychologytoday.com, last reviewed on June 9, 2016.

Jesse Appell, FUN IN QUARANTINE! Coronavirus Charity Standup Show. YouTube. March 3, 2020.

Marcia Reynolds, Outsmart Your Brain: How to Manage Your Mind When Emotions Take the Wheel. Covisioning, 2017.

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