Learning to Laugh at Yourself

Reviewed Jan 26, 2017

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Summary

The sheer physical act of laughing—even when you fake it—can improve mental and physical health.

Former Vice President Al Gore strides to the podium, grasps it firmly and says to the crowd: “How do you tell Al Gore from a room full of secret service agents? He’s the stiff one.”

The audience laughs. Mission accomplished. By poking fun at himself, Mr. Gore was able to break the ice with the audience and contradict critics who saw him as too serious.

Laughter is a good social tool—it can ease tense situations and improve relationships. But the benefits don’t stop there. It’s well known that the sheer physical act of laughing—even when you fake it—can improve mental and physical health. Studies at Stanford University, for example, have found that a two-minute belly laugh is equal to 10 minutes on a rowing machine in terms of boosting your heart rate. A good laugh also:

  • Relaxes muscles
  • Deepens breathing
  • Elevates oxygen levels
  • Numbs pain by stimulating endorphins
  • Heightens energy
  • Lessens tension
  • Eases depression
  • Boosts the immune system

Get a sense of humor

When you were a child, experts estimate that you probably laughed 400 times a day. Now you’re lucky to manage 15 chuckles. But you don’t have to “be funny” to get the benefits of an increased sense of humor. You can learn to laugh at yourself, laugh more often, and see the humor in everyday situations. Try the following:

  • Choose funny TV shows, movies, and books over depressing ones.
  • Start the day with a comic strip instead of a headline.
  • Stop waiting to be happy—try to find some pleasure in today.
  • Practice not being perfect—don’t make your bed.
  • Wear something silly—mismatched socks or leopard print underwear.
  • Pat yourself on the back for a job well done, even if it was merely spilling the coffee on the counter and not on yourself.
  • Be grateful—say thanks to the driver who didn’t hit you or the virus you didn’t get.
  • Smile at the person next to you when you’re stuck in line.
  • When you trip on a rug at a big meeting, don’t pretend it didn’t happen; make a joke, even if it’s corny.
  • Make a joke at your expense, not someone else’s; laughing at yourself is cool, laughing at others is mean.
  • Laugh at yourself, but stop short of becoming the village idiot; laughter should boost your self-confidence, not shred it.

It’s OK to fake it

If you can’t find something funny to laugh about, then fake it, say humor therapists. Your body can’t tell the difference between a fake laugh and a real one and in most cases, you’ll end up laughing naturally.

If you can’t laugh, then smile. According to the “Facial Feedback” theory, a person who forces a smile soon begins to experience the pleasurable feelings associated with that expression.

By Amy Fries
Source: The American Association for Therapeutic Humor; The Humor Project Inc.; Laughter Club International Home Page; Relax—You May Have Only a Few Minutes Left: Using the Power of Humor to Overcome Stress in Your Life and Work por Loretta LaRoche. Villard Books, 1998; “Improve your health in 3 minutes flat,” Vegetarian Times, March 1999.

Summary

The sheer physical act of laughing—even when you fake it—can improve mental and physical health.

Former Vice President Al Gore strides to the podium, grasps it firmly and says to the crowd: “How do you tell Al Gore from a room full of secret service agents? He’s the stiff one.”

The audience laughs. Mission accomplished. By poking fun at himself, Mr. Gore was able to break the ice with the audience and contradict critics who saw him as too serious.

Laughter is a good social tool—it can ease tense situations and improve relationships. But the benefits don’t stop there. It’s well known that the sheer physical act of laughing—even when you fake it—can improve mental and physical health. Studies at Stanford University, for example, have found that a two-minute belly laugh is equal to 10 minutes on a rowing machine in terms of boosting your heart rate. A good laugh also:

  • Relaxes muscles
  • Deepens breathing
  • Elevates oxygen levels
  • Numbs pain by stimulating endorphins
  • Heightens energy
  • Lessens tension
  • Eases depression
  • Boosts the immune system

Get a sense of humor

When you were a child, experts estimate that you probably laughed 400 times a day. Now you’re lucky to manage 15 chuckles. But you don’t have to “be funny” to get the benefits of an increased sense of humor. You can learn to laugh at yourself, laugh more often, and see the humor in everyday situations. Try the following:

  • Choose funny TV shows, movies, and books over depressing ones.
  • Start the day with a comic strip instead of a headline.
  • Stop waiting to be happy—try to find some pleasure in today.
  • Practice not being perfect—don’t make your bed.
  • Wear something silly—mismatched socks or leopard print underwear.
  • Pat yourself on the back for a job well done, even if it was merely spilling the coffee on the counter and not on yourself.
  • Be grateful—say thanks to the driver who didn’t hit you or the virus you didn’t get.
  • Smile at the person next to you when you’re stuck in line.
  • When you trip on a rug at a big meeting, don’t pretend it didn’t happen; make a joke, even if it’s corny.
  • Make a joke at your expense, not someone else’s; laughing at yourself is cool, laughing at others is mean.
  • Laugh at yourself, but stop short of becoming the village idiot; laughter should boost your self-confidence, not shred it.

It’s OK to fake it

If you can’t find something funny to laugh about, then fake it, say humor therapists. Your body can’t tell the difference between a fake laugh and a real one and in most cases, you’ll end up laughing naturally.

If you can’t laugh, then smile. According to the “Facial Feedback” theory, a person who forces a smile soon begins to experience the pleasurable feelings associated with that expression.

By Amy Fries
Source: The American Association for Therapeutic Humor; The Humor Project Inc.; Laughter Club International Home Page; Relax—You May Have Only a Few Minutes Left: Using the Power of Humor to Overcome Stress in Your Life and Work por Loretta LaRoche. Villard Books, 1998; “Improve your health in 3 minutes flat,” Vegetarian Times, March 1999.

Summary

The sheer physical act of laughing—even when you fake it—can improve mental and physical health.

Former Vice President Al Gore strides to the podium, grasps it firmly and says to the crowd: “How do you tell Al Gore from a room full of secret service agents? He’s the stiff one.”

The audience laughs. Mission accomplished. By poking fun at himself, Mr. Gore was able to break the ice with the audience and contradict critics who saw him as too serious.

Laughter is a good social tool—it can ease tense situations and improve relationships. But the benefits don’t stop there. It’s well known that the sheer physical act of laughing—even when you fake it—can improve mental and physical health. Studies at Stanford University, for example, have found that a two-minute belly laugh is equal to 10 minutes on a rowing machine in terms of boosting your heart rate. A good laugh also:

  • Relaxes muscles
  • Deepens breathing
  • Elevates oxygen levels
  • Numbs pain by stimulating endorphins
  • Heightens energy
  • Lessens tension
  • Eases depression
  • Boosts the immune system

Get a sense of humor

When you were a child, experts estimate that you probably laughed 400 times a day. Now you’re lucky to manage 15 chuckles. But you don’t have to “be funny” to get the benefits of an increased sense of humor. You can learn to laugh at yourself, laugh more often, and see the humor in everyday situations. Try the following:

  • Choose funny TV shows, movies, and books over depressing ones.
  • Start the day with a comic strip instead of a headline.
  • Stop waiting to be happy—try to find some pleasure in today.
  • Practice not being perfect—don’t make your bed.
  • Wear something silly—mismatched socks or leopard print underwear.
  • Pat yourself on the back for a job well done, even if it was merely spilling the coffee on the counter and not on yourself.
  • Be grateful—say thanks to the driver who didn’t hit you or the virus you didn’t get.
  • Smile at the person next to you when you’re stuck in line.
  • When you trip on a rug at a big meeting, don’t pretend it didn’t happen; make a joke, even if it’s corny.
  • Make a joke at your expense, not someone else’s; laughing at yourself is cool, laughing at others is mean.
  • Laugh at yourself, but stop short of becoming the village idiot; laughter should boost your self-confidence, not shred it.

It’s OK to fake it

If you can’t find something funny to laugh about, then fake it, say humor therapists. Your body can’t tell the difference between a fake laugh and a real one and in most cases, you’ll end up laughing naturally.

If you can’t laugh, then smile. According to the “Facial Feedback” theory, a person who forces a smile soon begins to experience the pleasurable feelings associated with that expression.

By Amy Fries
Source: The American Association for Therapeutic Humor; The Humor Project Inc.; Laughter Club International Home Page; Relax—You May Have Only a Few Minutes Left: Using the Power of Humor to Overcome Stress in Your Life and Work por Loretta LaRoche. Villard Books, 1998; “Improve your health in 3 minutes flat,” Vegetarian Times, March 1999.

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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