Spreading laughter is the next best thing to laughing yourself. When you set out to spread laughter, you're also spreading joy, happiness, and love for other people. Long considered "the best medicine", laughter has power; it can lighten up the atmosphere, bring a group of people together, help people to feel good about themselves, and make a challenging day so much easier to face. Even tears are changed by a good laugh, turning into tears of joy and hilarity. Laughter lightens tension and provides a bridge to moving on during confrontational situations. If you can inject laughter into other people's lives, you will be giving a gift that is priceless, one that allows people to focus back on the joy of living instead of always seeing the hardships and challenges of life. Being able to spread laughter begins with laughing on the inside and seeing the worth of being happy amid the gloom. As laughter is contagious, provided you're willing to spark it, it'll soon spread to others.
- Prepare yourself. In order to help spread laughter, you should limber up your own sense of the funnies and help release the laughter. While it might sound easy enough, it isn't always if you're feeling particularly pressured, stressed, or down. So give yourself some time out to relax, unwind, and think lovely, happy thoughts. And while you're at it, the following prescriptions also apply:
- Smile. When you smile, it makes other people feel happy. And in turn, that makes you feel happy. While smiling and laughing are different activities, they are both able to lead to the end of engaging others to feel better and happier. A smiling face evokes happiness and opens the door for a laugh. Most people find it hard not to return a smile, so this is a really great start.
- Think of funny things. Laughter needs to bubble up from somewhere and funny things are your best option. And it's really important to avoid over-analyzing humor - if you spend too much time asking yourself whether something is funny or not, the moment will be lost and you'll forget to laugh. After all, Mark Twain once said that "explaining humor is a lot like dissecting a frog; you learn a lot in the process, but in the end, you kill it." Instead, stay in the moment, react to funny thoughts and situations and let yourself laugh.
- Think optimistically about your current situation. Even in the toughest of times, it's possible to find something to laugh about. And what's really important when you're aiming to spread laughter is that your optimism can be as infectious as negativity seems to be at times, provided you're persistent and seek to draw others in to find out what's worth laughing about too.
- Lighten up. When the others around you see the chips falling down, see yourself finding ways to scoop them all back up again and build something new.
- Enjoy the things happening around you and pass comment on how you perceive things either via jokes or humorous statements. Even the mundane has its humorous side; share your humorous thoughts with others. Think about how people have managed to raise a chuckle from topics as wide-ranging as cubicle life to living on the prairie and how much more enjoyable it is to laugh about the ironies of what we humans do to ourselves to get into the situations we do than to whine and bemoan our fate.
- Remember the funniest jokes and stories you've ever been told and share them with others. If you can't think of any, look online or check out one of the many, many joke books around. You might even be clever enough to brush up some very old jokes from an antique joke book and give them a modern polish that lets you claim them as your own funnies!
- Instead of forwarding the email jokes, why not retell them with gusto next tea break? Have everyone in stitches at your performance and the funniness of the joke.
- Draw silly mustaches on people in the newspaper, magazines, or even in the staff bulletin and leave it for others to find and have a giggle at.
- Be an example of joy.
- Encourage others to see the funny side of their life. There are a lot of serious people out there, an awful lot. There is a convention in our society that "taking things seriously" marks us out for being the smart, intellectual, focused and dedicated person, while the person who jokes about tends to be put down for not taking things seriously enough, and by implication, not putting the effort into the daily grind of life. And yet, the irony is that psychology study after psychology study keeps on revealing what we all know deep down anyway, and it's that people who see the funny side of life often live longer, they don't get their knickers in a knot over trivial things, and they're actually more likely to be taking the right things seriously while every overly serious person is taking their own self rather too seriously instead! Very wisely, Robert Frost once noted that "if we couldn't laugh we would all go insane." Help the overly serious see that being funny won't dent their image and might just provide them with the flexible edge needed to really get ahead in this world.
- Life is filled with contradictions and absurdities. Assume that it is better to laugh about this reality than to weep about it and encourage others to feel the same way. It makes some of the confusion a little easier to bear, and humorous attitudes can often head off hardline responses to situations where people feel threatened. Laughter eases the tensions, reduces the threats, and creates space for seeing that while things might not be how people wish them to be, the situation is manageable after all and that there is no need to emotionally inflate things.
- Help your friends and family to have a good laugh. Audrey Hepburn once said: "I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it's the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It's probably the most important thing in a person." Prove your importance to your loved and cherished ones by helping them laugh a little more. Shout them to a cinematic or theatrical comedy, read funny stories to them, or tell them jokes. Remind them of funny memories you share together, including those times when things weren't quite going as hoped but turned out all right - and funny - in the end. Help the people you care about in life to have a good laugh and feel the joy of sharing good moments with one another.
- Be a funny boss, leader, teacher, or business owner. If you are in charge of people, ease their day with laughter. Introduce things into the workplace or place of learning that will lighten up the daily grind in fun ways. This doesn't have to take a huge chunk out of the day or week but when you do implement something funny, make sure it's good. Things to think about doing include:
- Invite a clown squad in to roam the halls one day and spread mirth through the offices, work spaces, and cubicles.
- Invite everyone to come to work dressed as a favorite TV character. Make it even funnier by specifying a precise cartoon character, so that there are a whole lot of Homer Simpsons coming to work for the day.
- Have a paper plane contest, to see who can throw theirs further than anyone else.
- Ask everyone to bring in their baby photos for "guess who" day.
- Book your staff or students into an improvisation show at the local theater, or have the improvisers visit you. In no time at all, your staff or students will be rolling on the floor laughing their hearts out. Now, that's the spirit that's definitely worth bringing back to work or school – the buzz will last for days and it won't ever be fully forgotten!
- Try laughter yoga. Laughter yoga has proven to be an amazing source of health and spiritual well-being, with the effects lasting up to 45 minutes after a session. Since it occurs within a group setting, it's not long before your laughter is setting off someone else's laughter, while someone is setting off your laughter, and on and on in a chain reaction. If you'd like to learn more, you can read How to Do Laughter yoga for the complete story.
- Do a laughter switch for an angry moment. This can be an amazing exercise in reducing the level of a confrontation with another person. Say you're arguing with someone about something trivial but clearly neither of you wants to give ground. You can feel the anger welling up within you. Instead of giving in to that feeling, switch into laughter mode instead. Find something funny about your increasingly frustrating and argumentative situation, express the funny thought, and then switch to laughing at your own behavior in the situation. It's sort of like catching yourself out, and making a deliberate choice to unwind the coil gently, letting it unfurl through laughter and allowing the other person see that you're cool with whatever has passed between you and that it's over now. Hopefully, the laughter will be shared when the angry event passes completely.
- Laugh at yourself when others are around. It does people good to see someone goofing about using their own personal foibles as the fodder for the joke. It helps people to relax and to see the sillier side of our pride, ego, and territoriality that often get in the way of good relations between people. Don't be afraid to laugh at yourself; just make sure you're genuinely being funny and not putting yourself down out of desperation – a healthy sense of humor shows the difference between poking fun at oneself playfully and degrading oneself. When you stop taking all the trivial things in life so seriously, it really is a funny world out there and your own actions are often contributing to the silliness of it all.
- Laugh out loud even when there's nobody to laugh with. Chuckling at a newspaper story or at finding something hilarious in the bookstore shelf can have people wondering what's so funny that they're missing out on. Open the funny greeting cards and have a laugh out loud; share a few lines with a passing stranger or two to put a smile on their face. Naturally, take care not to terrify people with your ebullience but do seek to draw in people who seem to be in the general vicinity through being genuinely happy and laughing freely.
- Give an impromptu performance in a public place. If you have a thespian or a performer background, or your internal performer is simply waiting to burst forth, why not put on a short funny monologue or amusing improvisation in a public place like the local cafe you often frequent, or out in the mall. Try to relate it to something that everyone is thinking about at the time, like a seasonal holiday, something that's happening in the public arena, or even just relate it to the daily happenings around you. If you're really good, get members of your impromptu audience to join in and help out!
- Visit a local hospital and help the patients laugh. Being stuck in hospital feeling sick all day can be hard, and sometimes those visiting sick people don't feel very much like laughing. And all that lack of laughing can get a person down and can even stymie the healing process. See spreading laughter as a way of enabling healing; if you'd like to know more, you can't go wrong checking out Patch Adams and the Gesundheit Institute, where laughter, humor, and joy are a prescription for treatment of patients.
VideoEvidence of just how contagious laughter is...
- If people give you strange looks, tell them you're a humorologist and it's your job to brighten people's day!
- If you're naturally happy, people will catch on and feel good about themselves too. Try to make yourself happy first, then try it on others.
- Deep belly laughs are good for you. Try to have them often. Watch funny things if you can't get started; immerse yourself in humor and reap the benefits.
- Be nice. A nice person is often well liked and leaves happiness wherever they go. While it sounds trite, it's actually one of the loveliest things on Earth to be genuinely nice.
- Laughter is an "honest social signal" because faking it is very hard to do; most of us can tell the difference between a fake laugh and a real one just by sensing it. So when someone is having a genuinely good laugh with you, both of you are truly connected.
- Some situations simply shouldn't have laughter in them. Make sure you can tell the difference.
- Be smart. Know when it's okay to laugh and when it would be better to stay quiet; common sense is something people with a sense of humor are not short of.
- Unless you're really good and your memory has no holes, avoid telling overly complicated jokes that go on and on and on. Laughter needs you to get to the point, fast.
- Don't lump sarcasm in excessively. Sarcasm isn't necessarily a tool for laughter but in cases where it is utilized properly, the results can be effective.
Things You'll Need
- A joyful attitude
- The will to spread it
- How to Have a Laugh and Enjoy Yourself
- How to Laugh Naturally on Cue
- How to Make People Laugh
- How to Make Anything Fun
- How to Be Happy
- How to Smile
- How to Spread Good Cheer
- How to Laugh
Sources and Citations
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