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This is the Qigong practice of the 8 Brocades, or Baduanjin. Regular practice is believed to improve organ function and overall wellbeing. You can adjust the pace or the reps to accommodate most any time frame and it can be done in very little space.
I also like the Qigong shaking practice as it always leads to laughter:
This is a very interesting article that explores the laughter of women, and how and why there was more smiling but less laughing around men. Smiling and laughing represent very different experiences — a smile, especially for a woman, is seen as an act of supplication, where a laugh is often read as a challenge. When we plug in the general, all-purpose smile we signal, effectively, “I’m not looking for trouble. Just be nice to me.”
When we smile that all-purpose smile, many of us look down or in some manner avert our gaze so that we do not make direct eye contact. When you laugh with someone, in contrast, the instinctive response is to look directly into the eyes of the person with whom you share that moment. You’ve connected. You’re standing on the same turf. Laughing together is as close as you can get to a hug without touching.
What do sex and laughter have in common? Turns out they are equal in many things. Whether you laugh or have sex, the process is accompanied by complex biochemical reactions which lower the levels of stress-causing hormones like cortisone and adrenaline. Both laugher and sex are relaxing. They also cause a surge of endorphins, which gets you high and strengthens your immune system. Read more.
Here is a summary of the various ways how laughter impacts stress. Stress is a well-known slow killer, is rampant in our society, and is very expensive on all levels. Its mechanisms are complex. It impacts everybody differently, but its end-result is easy to observe and explain. It creates havoc in the human body, leads to depression, kills creativity, isolates people when they most need social connections and slowly destroys one’s self-esteem. Stress cannot be ignored.
- Laughter triggers the release of a cocktail of happy chemicals that boosts the immune responses, particularly components related to anti-viral and anti-tumor defenses. This cocktail includes NK cells, endorphins, serotonin, growth hormone, interferon-gamma (IFN) and a host of other beneficial substances produced naturally every time we laugh heartily for extended periods.
- Laughter diminishes the secretion of cortisol and epinephrine, while enhancing immune reactivity.
- Laughter boosts secretion of growth hormone, an enhancer of key immune responses.
- Laughing leads to the release of endorphins, a self-manufactured natural opiate that has been scientifically shown to carry messages of attachment and bonding (the scientific terms for love), and to stimulate feelings of caring and forgiveness in addition to acting as a natural painkiller. Endorphins create a positive state of mind and boost optimism, self-confidence and feelings of self-worth.
- By enhancing the free flow of emotions, laughter can help dislodge blocked emotions stored in the body. Suppressed or blocked emotions can cause ongoing physical, mental and emotional problems and stress. Their release can be life-changing. Laughter provides an excellent non-violent method for emotional release and catharsis.
- Laughter stimulates circulation and aids muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
- Expect to be far less tense and anxious after a Laughter Wellness or Laughter Yoga session! By increasing endorphins (hormones which assuage the sympathetic nervous system) laughter facilitates a state of peace in the body.
- Laughter is a natural antidote to many of the illness-causing effects of stress.
Relevant studies on laughter and stress
After watching a comic film, laughter reduced serum cortisol levels, increased salivary chromogranin A (CgA) levels, and increased ordinary excretion of epinephrine and norepinephrine.
- Berk LS, Felten DL, Tan SA, Bittman BB, Westengard J. Modulation of neuroimmune parameters during the eustress of humor-associated mirthful laughter. Altern Ther Health Med. 2001;7 (2):62-72, 74-76.
- Berk LS, Tan SA, Fry WF, e al. Neuroendocrine and stress hormone changes during mirthful laughter. Am J Med Sci. 1989;298 (6):390-396.
- Berk LS, Tan SA, Nehlsen-Cannarella SL, et al. Humor associated laughter decreases cortisol and increases spontaneous lymphocyte blastogenesis. Clin Res. 1988;36:435A.
- Toda M, Kusakabe S, Nagasawa S, Kitamura K, Morimoto K. Effect of laughter on endocrinological stress marker chromogranin A. Biomed Res. 2007;28 (2):115-118.
- Levi L. The urinary output of adrenalin and noradrenalin during pleasant and unpleasant emotional states: a preliminary report.Psychosom Med. 1965 Jan-Feb; 27:80-85.
Behavior of perceptual anticipation of mirthful laughter decreased serum cortisol, epinephrine, and dopac. Berk LS, Tan SA, Berk D. Cortisol and catecholamine stress hormone decrease is associated with the behavior of perceptual anticipation of mirthful laughter [abstract]. FASEB J. 2008;22 (Meeting abstracts):946.11.
Humor desensitization reduced fear as effectively as traditional techniques. Ventis WL, Higbee G, Murdock SA. Using humor in systematic desensitization to reduce fear. J Gen Psychol. 2001;128 (2):241-253.
Laughter elevated breast-milk melatonin in both healthy and atopic eczema mothers. Kimata H. Laughter elevates the levels of breast-milk melatonin. J Psychosom Res. 2007;62 (6):699-702.
Laughter increased beta-endorphins and human growth hormones (HGH). Berk LS, Tan SA. [beta]-endorphin and HGH increase are associated with both the anticipation and experience of mirthful laughter [abstract], FASEB J. 2006;20 (4):A382.
Laughter may help dissipate tension, fear and frustration. Robinson V. The purpose and function of humor in OR nursing. Today’s OR Nurse. 1993;15 (6):7-12.
Laughter may reduce stress and improve NK cell activity. The Effect of Mirthful Laughter on Stress and Natural Killer Cell Activity, Mary P. Bennett, DNSc, RN, Janice M. Zeller, PhD, RN, FAAN, Lisa Rosenberg, PhD, RN, Judith McCann, DNSc, RN, Alt Ther, Mar/Apr 2003, Vol. 9, No. 2.
Laughter moderated stress or anxiety in healthy adults.
- Yovetich NA, Dale JA, Hudak MA. Benefits of humor in reduction of threat-induced anxiety. Psychol Rep. 1990;66 (1);51-58.
- Moore DB. Make them laugh. Therapeutic humor for patients with grief-related stress or anxiety. Adv Nurse Pract. 2000;8 (8):34-37.
Periods of intense laughter are followed by relaxed muscle tone or H-reflex depression.
- Paskind HA. Effects of laughter on muscle tone. Arch Neurol Psychiatry 1932;28 (3):623-628.
- Overeem S, Taal W, Ocal Gezici E, Lammers G, Van Dijk J. Is motor inhibition during laughter due to emotional respiratory influences? Psychophysiology. 2004;41 (2):254-258.
MUMBAI: In a unique order by a family court in Pune, a warring couple was recently sent for laughter yoga therapy to help resolve what marriage counseling and mediation failed to do. Citing research on how laughter alleviates stress and increases well-being and helps focus on solutions and achieve more productive outcomes to problems, the court said they could be motivated to deal with their matrimonial issues peacefully and pragmatically through such laughter training. Read more at https://goo.gl/Zzcce5
This article regroups various resources I have on how to create and use affirmations. I have been using those for years myself but without really ever putting much thoughts into what I was doing and how I was doing it. Then one day I read an article titled “How to Turn Limp Affirmations Into Mantras for Success” by Jack Canfield which I found very enlightening. Here is the gist of it:
1) Enter the “now”
Start your affirmation by entering the present tense. Take the condition you desire and declare it to be already true.
2) Be positive
Shine a light on what you do want, not what you don’t want. Our subconscious mind skips the word not, so delete this word from your affirmations. “I am not afraid of public speaking” gives us the message that you are afraid. Instead use, “I feel at ease as I speak in public.”
3) Be concise
Shorter is better. Affirmations with fewer words are often easier to recall, especially in situations when you feel some stress. Rhyming makes your affirmations even more memorable. For example, “I am feeling alive at 185.”
4) Include action
Whenever possible, affirm yourself as a person who takes action. For example: “I am gratefully driving my new Porsche along an open highway.” Action engages the Law of Attraction, creating new results in our lives and opening us to further inspiration.
5.) Include a feeling word
Powerful affirmations include content and emotion. Content describes the specific outcome that you desire. Emotion gets to the heart of how you feel about that outcome. For a more potent affirmation, add both elements.
…and then I read ‘Self Talk’: When Talking to Yourself, the Way You Do It Makes a Difference in which experts in sports psychology say self-talk should be supportive, not negative; say ‘you’ instead of ‘I’, so with that I added:
6.) Positive self-talk is more effective if we address ourselves by our first name.
Armed with all this knowledge I then looked at a list of affirmations that a friend send me (see below), and started to update each statement doing my best to include all of the elements described above. This is a work in progress. I hope it is useful to you too.
- [Name] Financial success is a game that is easy for you to play everyday and in every way.
- [Name] It is enjoyable for you to be wealthy. You love contributing to the Universal flow of abundance.
- [Name] It is your true will to be and feel prosperous and successful, and the Universe hears it.
- [Name] Money easily and abundantly comes to you in expected and unexpected ways.
- [Name] Prosperity, wealth and abundance flow to you easily and effortlessly.
- [Name] You are a magnet for money. Prosperity is drawn to you as easily as bees are attracted to honey.
- [Name] You align yourself everyday more and more with the energy of unlimited abundance.
- [Name] You are at peace with having a lot of money. Money is your friend and you are grateful for it.
- [Name] You are open and receptive to all the wealth life offers you.
- [Name] You are the wise master of your wealth.
- [Name] You are worthy of making more money. You deserve it!
- [Name] You can handle massive success with grace.
- [Name] You constantly attract exciting opportunities that create more money.
- [Name] You have eliminated all fears of failure from your mind and feel good about that. Fear is afraid of you!
- [Name] You know how to handle large sums of money well and with ease and you are very good at it!
- [Name] You mind constantly fills itself with abundance thinking.
- [Name] You see and feel your goals more clearly every day until they finally become reality.
- [Name] You set goals for yourself and joyfully move towards them.
- [Name] You wisely use money to better your life and the lives of others.
- [Name] Your actions create constant prosperity.
- [Name] Your business associates and partners feel your positive, success-expecting attitude. It inspires them and fills them with confidence, energy and trust.
- [Name] Your finances improve beyond your dreams and you are grateful for so much Divine love showering on you.
- [Name] Your life is filled with love, joy, prosperity and abundance.
- [Name] Your personal connection to the Universe is enough for you to create all the wealth you want.
- [Name] Your positive attitude is a magnet that attracts financial success to you.
- [Name] Every day in every way, you are becoming more and more successful.
- [Name] You always attract only the best of circumstances and the best positive people in your life.
- [Name] You are energetic and enthusiastic. Confidence is your second nature.
- [Name] You are self-reliant, creative and persistent in whatever you do.
- [Name] You easily find solutions to challenges and roadblocks and move past them quickly.
- [Name] Success is your natural state.
- [Name] You are powerful and most capable!
- [Name] Can you imagine how it will feel to be successful and complete?
- [Name] You shine!
- [Name] You live in the present and are confident of the future.
- [Name] You love meeting strangers and approach them with boldness and enthusiasm.
- [Name] You see fear as the fuel for your success and take bold action in spite of fear.
- [Name] Mistakes and setbacks are stepping stones to your success because you learn from them.
- [Name] You personality exudes confidence. You are bold and outgoing.
- [Name] Today you are successful. Tomorrow you will be successful. Every day you are successful.
- All is well right now.
- I accept and embrace all experiences, even unpleasant ones.
- I am focus and engaged in the task at hand.
- I am fully present in all of my relationships.
- I am grateful for this moment and find joy in it.
- I am grounded in the experience of the present moment.
- I gently and easily return to the present moment.
- I meditate easily without resistance or anxiety.
- I observe my emotions without getting attached to them.
- I observe my thoughts and actions without judging them.
- I release the past and live fully in the present moment.
- Life is happening in this moment.
- All is well in my world. I am calm, happy, and content.
- All negativity and stress are evaporating from my body and my mind.
- All the muscles in my body are releasing and relaxing.
- Being calm and relaxed energizes my whole being.
- Calmness washes over me with every deep breath I take.
- Even when there is chaos around me, I remain calm and centered.
- Every day I am more and more at ease.
- I am free of anxiety, and a calm inner peace fills my mind and body.
- I breathe in relaxation. I breathe out stress.
- I transcend stress of any kind. I live in peace.
The U.K. healthcare group Bupa sponsored in 2015 a survey that asked 2,000 people to name their favorite feel-good moments. Freshly made sheets came top of the list, followed by feeling the sun on the face.
Here is the full list:
- 01. Sleeping in a freshly-made bed
- 02. Feeling the sun on your face
- 03. People saying “thank you” or a random act of kindness from a stranger
- 04. Finding money in unexpected places
- 05. Having time to myself
- 06. Laughing so hard it hurts
- 07. Snuggling on the sofa with a loved one
- 08. Freshly-made bread
- 09. Doing something for others
- 10. The clean feeling after a shower
- 11. When your favorite song comes on the radio
- 12. Finding a bargain in the sales
- 13. Listening to the rainfall/thunderstorms when you’re inside
- 14. Freshly-brewed tea/coffee
- 15. The thrill of personal achievement
- 16. Having a long hot bath
- 17. Seeing a fresh coating of snow
- 18. Freshly-cut grass
- 19. Chocolate melting in your mouth
- 20. Doing something active outdoors (e.g. bike ride, run, country walk)
- 21. Bacon cooking in the morning
- 22. Talking to or playing with your pet
- 23. A soothing massage
- 24. That “Friday feeling”
- 25. A perfectly-cooked steak
- 26. Waking up before the alarm and realizing there’s more time to sleep
- 27. Doing exercise
- 28. Rainbows
- 29. Remembering the name of something/someone you thought you’d forgotten
- 30. Making a perfectly-baked cake/pie
- 31. Stepping on crunchy autumn leaves
- 32. Popping bubble wrap
- 33. Swimming in the sea/lake
- 34. New car smell
- 35. Dancing like no one is watching
- 36. The smell of new books/magazines
- 37. Smell of a fine wine
- 38. Putting your “Out of Office” on before going on holiday
- 39. Putting on a brand new pair of socks
- 40. Watching your breath float away in cold air
- 41. Getting new stationary
- 42. Singing in the shower
- 43. Getting a seat on the bus/train/subway
- 44. Picking an easy peel orange from the fruit bowl
- 45. Loosening your jeans after you’ve eaten
- 46. The “pop” when you open a new jar of jam
- 47. Squeezing a [pimple]
- 48. Cleaning the wax from your ears
- 49. Cleaning the bathroom
- 50. The royal family
Source: Daily Mail (https://goo.gl/jr6i9k)
Here are 100 tips for thinking positive to help you channel your negative or angry thoughts into a happier and more productive positive outlook.
General Tips for Thinking Positive
Practice these simple exercises and suggestions to keep your thoughts on the positive side.
- Analyze what went wrong. Thinking positively doesn’t mean denying that there is anything wrong. Instead, give yourself some time to think about the things that led up to your current situation so you can avoid future mistakes and look toward a more positive tomorrow.
- Believe you will succeed. There is nothing like believing in yourself to create a successful reality. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt and believe that you will succeed at fulfilling your goals. It’s not easy but it’s very much worth it. Try these exercises to change your negative emotions first.
- Come up with ideas of how to turn negative thoughts into positive ones. If you find yourself thinking you should have done this or that differently, try changing your thoughts around. Instead give yourself credit for what you did do, remember that you are not perfect or that you can do better next time.
- Direct your thoughts. This technique, used by psychotherapists, can help you to control your thoughts when you start to feel down or anxious. Create a happy thought, a positive image, or give yourself positive feedback to keep bad feelings in check.
- Focus on the good things in life. The easiest way to “push out” all feelings that aren’t positive is to focus on what you want rather than what you don’ want. Don’t let negative thoughts and feelings overwhelm you when you’re feeling down. Even if it’s only for a few hours a day, stop pushing your negativity aside by only focussing on the good things in your life.
- Forgive yourself. Constantly beating yourself up about things that have gone wrong won’t change them. Tell yourself that you’re forgiven for your mistakes and allow yourself to move on.
- Give yourself credit. Often when we feel frustrated or upset we only concentrate on the bad things or the mistakes we’ve made instead of giving ourselves credit for what we do right. Allow yourself to feel confident about the things you have accomplished, even if you’ve messed up in other areas.
- Learn from the past. The past is behind you and no matter how badly things went there is nothing you can do to change them. Whenever you feel negative thoughts about the past come up, replace them with positive thoughts about the future.
- List the reasons you will get what you want. If you are having trouble believing that you’ll get that big promotion or that your book will get published try sitting down and coming up with a list of reasons that you will get what you want rather than focusing on the reasons you might not.
- Only use positive words when talking. If you’re constantly telling yourself “I can’t” you may convince yourself that’s the truth. Replace these negative words with positive ones instead. Tell yourself you will do your best or that you will try your hardest instead.
- Practice positive affirmation. One of the most popular positive thinking exercises is positive affirmation. This means you repeat a positive phrase to yourself on a regular basis like “I deserve to be happy” or “I am worthy of love”. Believing that these things are true, and reminding yourself of it can help give you a more positive outlook on life.
- Practice self-hypnosis. Self-hypnosis brings about a highly conscious state of mind that is willing to follow instructions. This means you’ll be more open to positive suggestions that will allow you to be happier and hopefully healthier in your life.
- Remember things could be worse. No matter how bad things get remember that they could be worse and be grateful for all the good things that are in your life, even when it seems there’s more bad than good.
- Think of it as an opportunity. Sometimes even the seemingly negative things in our lives present us with opportunities we wouldn’t have been strong enough to pursue otherwise. Maybe losing your job is just the chance you need to start your own business or go back to school.
- Think of ways to turn visualization into action. The next natural step of this is to think of just how you’re going to get to where you see yourself. Just picturing it isn’t going to make it happen, so create a plan to take it one step at a time until you’ve made it.
- Use words that evoke strength and success. Try filling your thoughts with words that make you feel strong, happy and in control of your life. Make a concentrated effort to focus on these words rather than those that make you feel like you are failing or incompetent.
- Work on visualization. Picturing what you want to accomplish or the person you’d like to be can be a great motivator to getting you there and helping you feel more positive about the distance you have to go yet.
Tips for Thinking Positive At Work
Work can be a stressful place but use these techniques and ideas to keep yourself looking on the bright side.
- Avoid negative coworkers. Nothing can ruin a positive attitude like coworkers who bring out the negatives in everything. Avoid talking to those you know will only make you feel worse.
- Be constructive. Giving yourself cruel and unwarranted criticisms will not only put you in a bad mood it surely won’t help you improve either. Be constructive in your criticisms of yourself so you can grow and learn.
- Believe in yourself. Want that promotion? Hoping to get that huge account? Believe that you can do it and it just might come true.
- Don’t dwell. So you made a mistake. It happens to everyone. Don’t dwell on your mistakes. Make peace with yourself and move on to other projects.
- Keep track of your thoughts. When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, try jotting them down. You may find a pattern and figure out some ways to reverse how you’re seeing yourself or negative situations.
- Look at yourself rationally. It’s easy to get down on yourself for messing up at work, even on the little things. But try taking a step back and looking at the situation. You may find that what you thought was a big deal really doesn’t matter that much.
- Look for opportunity. In every failure there’s an opportunity to improve. Spend time thinking of ways you can turn your setbacks at work into ways you can get ahead in the future.
- Relax and let things happen. Sometimes the best way to deal with problems is to relax and let them take their course. Things can often appear to be a bigger deal than they really are and reminding yourself of this can help you to relax and not feel so stressed.
- See it from another point of view. Change your pattern of thought by trying to see things from another point of view, whether it’s your coworkers, your bosses or just someone impartial. It can help you see where you went wrong and understand why others might be upset.
- Sit up straight. Slouching down in your chair isn’t going to make you feel any better about anything that’s bothering you. Sit up straight in your chair and see if it improves your thinking.
- Stop being your own worst critic. There’s no one else who knows just how to make you feel terrible like you can. Lay off on the harsh criticism and think good things about yourself when you feel you’re at your worst.
- Surround yourself with positive images. Make your desk your own private happy getaway. Put up pictures of things that make you happy or that remind you of your goals to create a calming and positive environment.
- Truly believe you are the best at your job. If you’re constantly looking for failures in your work and put on a sour attitude you’re much more likely to actually be putting in a poor performance. If you think that you’re good at your job you’re much more likely to put in the effort and performance that will make you good.
- Visualize a successful outcome. Sometimes it can be helpful to picture yourself completing a project successfully or getting the promotion you desire. This can encourage you and make you feel better about the situation.
Tips for Thinking Positive in your Family and Personal Life
Whether you’re struggling with keeping a positive attitude about yourself or about issues within your family, try these positive thinking techniques.
- Associate yourself with those who think positively. Positivity is contagious, so find friends and family members who look on the bright side to surround yourself with.
- Avoid laying blame. So the water bill didn’t get paid. You could get mad and start a fight with your spouse or roommate. Or, you could let it go, take it in stride and work together to remedy the situation.
- Be glad your life isn’t boring. If nothing good or bad ever happened to you, likely you’d start to get pretty bored with your life. Take everything that is coming to you as a challenge and a way to keep yourself busy and interested in your life.
- Be playful. There’s nothing to lift your mood and change your thinking like taking some time to embrace playfulness and your inner child.
- Benefit from the attitudes of others. Have a friend that always knows just what to say to make you feel like things will be alright? Take comfort in those around you that have positive attitudes and can make you feel better about anything going on in your life.
- Come up with positive things about those you love. Making someone else feel good about themselves can strengthen relationships and give you a positive thought to concentrate on, instead of the negative.
- Develop a personal mantra. No matter what you choose to repeat to yourself, make your mantra words you want to live by each and every day that can remind you to be positive and take whatever life has to offer.
- Do something nice. Want to feel better? Try doing something nice for someone you care about. You’ll get to feel good for being nice and you just might make someone else’s day.
- Find someone to share with. Knowing you are not alone can be a healing experience. Share your negative feelings with a friend, a family member or a even a mental health professional. You’ll likely feel better after you’ve gotten things off your chest and had someone to sound off with.
- Indulge yourself. One way to remind yourself of the positive things that life has to offer is to indulge yourself in whatever it is you love. Whether it’s a box of chocolates, a massage or a new video game, give yourself a break to relax.
- Let go of the past. It does not determine your future so why focus on it? If you feel yourself ruminating on the past make a conscious effort to take your thoughts in another direction.
- Look at the big picture. Is that parking ticket you got a bummer? Of course. Will you still feel bad about it later this week? This month? Learn to let go of the things that don’t really matter.
- Remind yourself of your blessings. Whether you feel blessed by your family, your friends or even that you just have food to eat each day remind yourself of these things, however small you may feel they may be.
- Say thank you. Most of us have a lot to feel grateful for that we simply take for granted. Thank those in your life that make it better and happier to get a positivity boost for yourself as well.
Tips for Thinking Positive in Fun and Relaxation
Don’t spend your free time feeling bad about things that have happened. Change your thoughts from the bad to the good with these helpful tips.
- Concentrate on breathing. When things just seem to be too much to deal with, try concentrating on simply breathing. It will relax you, eliminate some of your anxiety and allow you to focus on more positive elements in your life.
- Count down to total relaxation. All of us have been so upset or frustrated at some point that we just feel like we want to explode. If you feel yourself reaching this point, stop, and start counting. For an additional bonus, try relaxing each body part in turn as you count so you end up completely relaxed and ready to think logically.
- Create something. Negativity inspires a lot of destructive feelings and one way to counter that is by working to create something instead. Paint or draw, sew some new curtains, build a model or even put together a puzzle.
- Engage in activities that work towards your goals. If you’re trying to lose weight don’t spend the weekend baking cookies that will only tempt you towards falling off the low-cal wagon. Instead, pump yourself up by going on a hike, playing tennis with a friend or just getting active.
- Engage in physical activity. Working out releases chemicals that give you a mood lift. Take a jog, play a sport or just walk around the block to improve your outlook.
- Explore the world around you. Distract yourself from your negative feelings by embracing your sense of adventure. Check out a part of town you have never been to, take a day trip to a local winery, or just spend time reliving the happy memories from things around your house.
- Find something to laugh about. If you don’t have anything in your day that’s been particularly funny, think about a memory that never fails to make you laugh. It’s hard to be negative when you’re laughing and smiling.
- Focus on all the fun in your life. While you might spend 40 hours a week slaving away behind a desk you likely have some things in your life that are fun and enjoyable as well. Focus on these things and spend time thinking of new and exciting ways to have fun when you’re feeling down.
- Get excited. Even if there are a million things you’re dreading doing come Monday try to find one thing that you’re excited about. Even that one thing can have a big impact on how you feel and how you approach your day.
- Imagine yourself in a happy place. Visualization can be a powerful tool and you can use it to remove yourself from whatever situation you feel unhappy in to one that makes you smile. Just close your eyes and imagine whatever makes you feel best.
- Listen to something upbeat. Music can be a great mood enhancer. Whether you’re driving in your car or hanging out at home, crank up the tunes with something that makes you feel happy.
- Meditate. The benefits of meditation are many, and one of them can be encouraging positive thinking. By clearing your mind and relaxing you can push out a large amount of negativity that may be troubling you.
- Monitor your stream of consciousness. When you’re just sitting and thinking do negative thoughts overtake everything else? Monitor where your mind goes when it’s at rest and learn to redirect your thoughts towards happier memories.
- Read an inspiring book. If you’re having trouble finding something inspiring about your life right now try getting inspired by the life of someone else by reading a book meant to inspire and uplift.
- Take a break from the news. The news is often filled with all kinds of depressing information. If you’re already in a bad mood take a night off from the news and do something that you find enjoyable instead.
- Think of 100 things you enjoy doing. Feeling like your life is one big, horrible sinkhole at the moment? Sit yourself down and try to come up with a list of things that you enjoy doing. Even small things like taking a hot shower or enjoying a walk in the snow can make you realize that your life isn’t so bad after all.
- Watch your favorite sappy movie. Get a quick pick me up by watching your favorite movie or just your favorite scenes. You’ll get a smile or a laugh and forget whatever was getting you down.
Tips for Thinking Positive when Facing Challenges
Everyone has to face challenges in their lives from time to time. Whether they’re difficult personal goals to meet or unexpected problems these tips can help you make it through with a smile on your face.
- Believe you will get well. Those facing illnesses can feel a sense of hopelessness and fear. These feelings aren’t going to help anything. Concentrate on getting better and living each moment as if you will soon be well.
- Don’t expect change to be easy. No one ever promised that making a big change in your life would be easy or that overcoming obstacles would be a walk in the park. It’s not supposed to be. Don’t let opposition let you lose your confidence and adapt a negative attitude.
- Don’t let loss stop you. When pursuing any goal there are bound to be setbacks along the way. Don’t let these stop you from heading towards your ultimate goal.
- Don’t let yourself quit. Giving up is usually taking the easy way out of a situation. No matter how negative you’re feeling, never let yourself quit pursuing something you truly want. You’ll thank yourself in the long run if you don’t give up.
- Face up to change. The world is constantly changing and you and those around you are changing as well. Make peace with these changes and understand they don’t always mean the end of happiness just because they’re something different.
- Fake it till you make it. One way to deal with a challenge is to create a feeling of confidence and happiness in yourself. At first this feeling might not be real, but over time you’ll start to actually feel happier and maybe even closer to your goal.
- Find the bright side. Every cloud has a silver lining and you just need to find yours. Try finding the bright spot amidst all the turmoil surrounding a situation and focus on that to get you through.
- Focus on finding a solution. Don’t wallow in your problems. Instead, work towards finding a solution and getting them resolved. You’ll be able to feel proactive and feel in control of your life.
- Keep yourself on track. It’s easy to be weak and get off track to whatever goal you’re pursuing because it’s easier right now. Don’t let weakness get the best of you– you’ll only feel worse later. Provide yourself with reminders to stay in a positive mind set and stay with the program.
- Make a conscious decision to be resilient. In life you can either let a challenge break you down and make you see the world in a negative light or you can draw on strength you didn’t even known you had and rise above it. Choose the latter– it’s never too late.
- Picture yourself at the weight you want to be. Losing weight can be a huge challenge, even for the most determined. Picturing yourself at the weight you want to be can be a great motivator to getting you on the track to success.
- Start small. Working at a huge goal all at once can be overwhelming and sometimes discouraging. Take things one step at a time and chip away at your ultimate goal until you get there.
- Take it head on. Sometimes the best way to deal with negative things in your life is to take them head on. Reaching a resolution or at least working towards one will likely make you feel better about just about any situation.
- Truly believe you will succeed. If you want an extra edge on success, believe that you will be successful. This may give you the confidence and assurance you need to make the difference.
- Understand that the situation is not forever. Even if you’re dealing with the grief of a lost loved one, remember that in time you will feel better. You may always feel sad about a loss, but it will only get easier as time goes on. Take it day by day and keep in mind the transience of any bad situation.
- Understand the obstacles are there to challenge you. Along your path to success you’re going to encounter some roadblocks. Understand that these aren’t necessarily there to stop you from doing what you want, just to ensure that you truly want it.
Tips for Thinking Positive in your Daily Attitude
If you really want to change your outlook on life, try using these techniques to change how you deal with problems and see the world.
- Accept the good things. Sometimes we get so caught up in the bad stuff coming our way that we forget to appreciate the good things. Take a minute to sit down and think of all the positive things that happened in your day, no matter how small.
- Believe the world is a good place. If you look at the world and only seem doom and gloom laid out in front of you you’re not doing yourself any favors. Believe the world is a good place and you’re likely to find many more ways good things can come your way.
- Believe you can change. Everyone has qualities they don’t like about themselves and that sometimes make them feel bad about themselves. Believe you can change these things and you’ll start to see little ways that you can.
- Believe you deserve good things. If you don’t truly believe that you deserve good things in your life you likely aren’t going to encounter many. Believe that you are worthy for good fortune to come your way and it just might.
- Change your vibe. Some people think that you get back what you put out, so stop putting out bad energy and change to a more positive outlook. Whether it truly works or not doesn’t matter, you’ll feel better either way.
- Choose joy. Every day when you wake up you make the choice whether to be happy or miserable. Make the choice to be happy and you’ll live a much more joyful life.
- Create realistic goals. Of course you’re going to feel frustrated if you make your goals so unattainable that you can’t reach them no matter how hard you work. Create smaller or more realistic goals so you can feel accomplished instead of defeated each day.
- Decide why you want what you want. If you’re feeling upset because you feel like you aren’t achieving the things you want in life, take a moment to sit back and figure out the reasons you actually want those things. You may find you’re not as attached to them as you think.
- Don’t place your future in someone else’s hands. Your future is yours alone to shape. Remember this and take control of where you’re going in life.
- Don’t play the victim. Bad things happen to everyone from time to time. Pitying yourself and wanting others to feel sorry for you isn’t going to make things better. Pick yourself up and start working towards a happier future.
- Get excited about all the possibilities that lay ahead. Even in the midst of the biggest disasters there are a multitude of possibilities that await you to make changes or take on the world tomorrow.
- Keep the bad out. You’re in control of the good and bad you choose to let into your life. When you can, limit the amount of negative things you let into your life, including your thoughts.
- Look at things with fresh eyes. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to sleep on a problem so you can look at it the next day when you’re not feeling so emotional.
- Make positive thinking a habit. Don’t just practice thinking positively when you’re feeling down. Make it an everyday occurrence whether you’re in a good mood or bad.
- Realize that your thoughts do not own you. Stop your negative thoughts in their tracks by realizing that you’re in charge of what you think, not the other way around.
- See the beauty in everything. Even if you’re in the worst mood, taking the time to look at all the beautiful things that surround you in the world can provide an instant and insightful way to lift your spirits.
- Smile. Sometimes all it takes to feel good is to put a smile on your face. Practice putting on a happy face even when you just feel so-so.
- Start immediately. Want to make a positive change in your life? Do it now. Putting it off just gives you time to make excuses so get started as soon as possible.
- Stop letting negative thoughts control you. Negativity can be an overwhelming emotion, one that can make you feel out of control and unhappy in every aspect of your life. Put a stopper on these negative thoughts and take control of how you’re feeling.
- Stop making excuses. There are always a million excuses for any person not to do something even if that something can make them feel happier. Stop putting up obstacles to your happiness and ditch those lame excuses when you hear yourself making them.
- Take control of your decisions. You’re the boss of what is going on in your life, even when you feel like you don’t have a choice. Take back control of your decisions and make the choice to be happier and more positive.
- Take time to figure out what you really want. When you feel yourself feeling negative about things that you haven’t accomplished, take time to think if you really want those things. Finding out what is really important to you can help eliminate bad feelings over things that you don’t truly want.
This article was first posted in 2009 on www.rncentral.com
- 99 ways to more laughter
- 40 ideas to experience childlike playfulness as adults
- 10 ideas to blend the energy of laughter into your daily life
- A Gentle Solo Laughter Wellness Workout
Did you know that the Navajo (Diné) people have a specific tradition around celebrating a baby’s first laugh? Around three months, they watch the baby closely for that first real giggle. The person who has the good fortune of eliciting that first laugh is then responsible for throwing a party, with the baby technically playing the role of host. Of course, a baby can’t host a party, so the relative or friend who coaxed out that first laugh hands out rock salt, candy, and gifts on the baby’s behalf.
The belief behind the tradition is that when a baby is born, she belongs to two worlds: the spirit world and the physical one. The first laugh is seen as a sign of the baby’s desire to leave the spirit world and join her earthly family and community. Perhaps it was because of the fragility of new life that infants were treated as still “between worlds” for those delicate first few months, until parents heard a sign of joy and wellbeing that reassured them their baby was healthy enough to survive. On reflection, I realized that other cultures also celebrate a milestone around the same time in a baby’s life. For example, the Korean dol tradition celebrates a baby’s first hundred days, which is just over the three month mark where the Diné anticipate the first laugh.
Without taking away any of the sacredness of the A’wee Chi’deedloh, I love the idea of celebrating the arrival baby’s giggle — her first expression of joy — as the first big milestone in a child’s life. Joy is a big part of what makes us human, so it makes sense that we are only fully human once we have the capacity for laughter. Which sounds like it’s worth a party, or a glass of champagne at least!
There are so many “voices” in this world telling kids they don’t measure up. Behind every young child who believes in him or her, is a parent who believed in him or her first. Help your kids see how truly wonderful they are. Here are some suggestions to get started:
- Awesome – that’s what you are!
- Dad/Mom and I were just talking about how wonderful you are.
- Do you know how rare people like you are?
- Every parent wishes they had a son/daughter like you.
- God created you for a special purpose.
- God wanted to bless me so He gave me you.
- Good thinking.
- Grandpa and/or Grandma think you are spectacular!
- Great job on your homework!
- How did I get the Best Kid In The World?
- How did you come up with that?
- I appreciate the young man (woman) you are becoming.
- I appreciate you so much.
- I can see your future . . . it’s so bright, I’m going to need sunglasses!
- I can see your inner strength.
- I don’t deserve a daughter/son like you!
- I don’t know what I would do without you.
- I don’t know where you’re going to end up, but it’s going to be awesome!
- I just know you’re going to be successful.
- I know you can conquer your fear!
- I know you can figure it out!
- I know you will achieve your dreams.
- I like how your mind works.
- I like you.
- I love how you never give up!
- I love the fact that I can rely on you.
- I think you’re fantastic!
- I was just telling Dad/Mom how proud I am of you.
- I’m grateful for you.
- I’m grateful God gave you to me.
- I’m happy when you’re around.
- I’m really proud of you.
- It takes a big person to be honest like you just were.
- It’s a rare thing to find someone trustworthy like you.
- Keep practicing like that and you’re going to be the best in the world!
- King Solomon talked about you: A man skilled in his work will stand before kings.
- Look at all those muscles! (when he’s very young)
- My respect for you is really growing.
- Spending time with you reminds me of how special you are.
- Thank you for honoring me.
- Thank you for loving me.
- Thanks for being such a great kid!
- Thanks for being such a hard worker.
- That was a really kind thing to do.
- There is no one quite like you.
- This world would be a better place if more people were like you.
- What a great idea!
- What a great job you did!
- What you did for your (me, friend, brother, sister) was really kind.
- When you did ( ) it showed a lot of self-discipline.
- When you stood up for what was right, God said, “Well done!”
- Would you like to go to the store with me? I like it when you come along.
- Wow! You did a great job cleaning your room!
- Wow! You’re fast!
- You are a blessing to me and Mom/Dad.
- You are a diligent young man/woman.
- You are a great example.
- You are a special individual.
- You are an honest young man/woman – God likes that.
- You are an interesting person.
- You are going places!
- You are the kind of friend I wanted when I was your age.
- You are the son/daughter I prayed for.
- You can achieve anything you desire.
- You could be President!
- You could run a small country! Maybe a large one!!
- You did a great Job!
- You did that so well.
- You did that? You’re amazing!
- You do quality work!
- You figured this out by yourself? Amazing!
- You give the best hugs.
- You have a big heart!
- You have some amazing gifts.
- You have strong character.
- You inspire people when you do things like that!
- You made this all by yourself? It tastes fantastic!
- You make being proud of your son/daughter so easy.
- You make me laugh!
- You make me smile.
- You see things really clearly.
- You showed a lot of courage when you ( )
- You showed a lot of maturity when you responded like that.
- You stood for the Truth – that’s what good men/women do!
- You worked until the job was done – impressive!
- You’re a great person.
- You’re a real go-getter!
- You’re looking sharp!
- You’re one in a million!
- You’re really polite – I like that in a young man/young woman.
- You’re really thoughtful.
- You’re so brave!
- You’re so generous.
- You’re so handsome/beautiful.
- You’re so smart!
- You’re so tough!
- You’ve got a great sense of humor.
- You’ve got a lot of ‘grit’!
- You’ve got what it takes!
- Your life matters.
- I love you!
Source: Matthew L. Jacobson, https://faithfulman.com/
This certificate gives you the right to:
- Act crazy,
- Admire the moon and the stars,
- Be a hero,
- Be glad to have a body,
- Build sand castles,
- Buy new sneakers,
- Change your mind,
- Collect rainbows,
- Do bubbles,
- Dress like the other sex,
- Feel weird,
- Forget your name,
- Hate something,
- Hug and kiss a tree,
- Jump into mud puddles
- Keep a secret,
- Laugh and cry at the same moment,
- Make a drawing of something you have never seen,
- Make a hundred mistakes,
- Make friends,
- Order the biggest icecream,
- Play football with grandma,
- Play with the clouds,
- Pretend you are asleep,
- Read a book under the blankets with a torch,
- Read children’s books,
- Save the world,
- Say hello to everyone in the street,
- Say I’m sorry,
- Shout out loud what comes up… now!
- Sing in the bathroom,
- Skip a rule,
- Smell flowers,
- Speak with animals,
- Take a little nap,
- Think something is stupid,
- Walk backwards,
- Walk hand in hand,
- Walk in the rain,
- Walk with your eyes closed,
- Wonder about “momsels”,
- And tell everybody that you are the inventor of everything on earth, including this poem!
It is never too late to be a happy child.
Get a blank certificate to print this on at https://goo.gl/onHgbN
This recent report, based on the responses of 2,279 students in 26 nations, found that more than 40% of respondents had anxiety scores in the moderate to severe range, and that nearly 40% showed signs of moderate to severe depression. Laughter Wellness to the rescue! See https://goo.gl/ErtG9t
This is a very interesting article by Rick and Forrest Hanson about what they call the HEAL system: Have a beneficial experience, Enrich it, Absorb it, Link it. Personally I find that this is a very elegant way to structure any relaxation experience after an enriching activity class (e.g., a Laughter Wellness session!) See https://goo.gl/mcQgA2
Here is the video of a laughter presentation Prof. Paul Bennett and myself gave last year at a national Dialysis conference in Washington DC. Exercise and Dialysis: What Can Busy Nephrology Nurses Do? This session reviews barriers to exercise in the kidney disease patient population and provides strategies for nurses to encourage and incorporate intradialytic exercise in patient care. See https://library.annanurse.org/anna/sessions/4619/view
From AARP (38+ million members in the USA in the 55+ age group): Laughter Can Be as Good as Exercise for the Brain. “Laughing is a simple thing that anyone can do,” says Gulshan Sethi, a cardiothoracic surgeon at the Tucson Medical Center. “You don’t have to take any medicine. There are no adverse side effects. You have nothing to lose.” See https://goo.gl/vNu1hg
From Sahmyook University in South Korea: Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter in Mental Health: A Theoretical Review. Conclusion: laughter therapy is effective and scientifically supported as a single or adjuvant therapy for mental health issues. See https://goo.gl/k24zKv
I love the random act of kindness challenge. The idea is to inspire people to make a life-long commitment to service and kindness. The event challenges participants to complete a checklist of 50 acts of kindness in one week, including such things as holding the door for someone, helping a friend, or picking up trash.
Each person is welcome to create their own list, and here are 80 easy ideas for random acts of kindness to get your creative juices flowing:
- Brew a cup of tea and allow yourself to slowly sip.
- Bring a security guard a hot cup of coffee.
- Bring in fun office supplies to liven up the workday for everyone.
- Bring sweet treats to the office.
- Bring your partner breakfast in bed.
- Buy a plant. Put it in a terracotta pot. Write positive words that describe a friend on the pot. Give it to that friend!
- Call someone and leave a message saying what you love best about them.
- Call your family just to say hi and find out what they’re doing.
- Call your grandparents.
- Close your eyes and imagine lying under a cherry blossom tree, with a warm breeze blowing.
- Compliment someone in front of others.
- Compliment someone to their boss.
- Compliment the first three people you talk to today.
- Cook a meal or do a load of laundry for a friend who just had a baby or is going through a difficult time.
- Do the dishes even if it’s your roommate or partner’s turn.
- Don’t interrupt when someone else is speaking.
- Donate money to charity.
- Each time you get a new piece of clothing, donate an old one.
- Email or write to a former teacher who made a difference in your life.
- Encounter someone in customer service who is especially kind? Take an extra five minutes to tell their manager.
- Every day at the end of the day write in a journal three things that “sparkled” for you.
- Everyone is important. Learn the names of your office security guard, the person at the front desk and other people you see every day. Greet them by name.
- Find opportunities to give descriptive compliments. Don’t just think it. Say it, and be specific so that the person on the receiving end knows exactly what they are being complimented for or about.
- Give 10 hugs today.
- Give away stuff for free. (E.g., Goodwill, Salvation Army, Craigslist…).
- Give someone a book you think they’d like.
- Give someone you love a shoulder rub and get a lift from their gratitude
- Give your parking ticket to someone else after you’ve used it.
- Hang out with the person who just moved to town.
- Hang up a bird feeder in your garden or balcony.
- Have a clean up party in the public space of your choice, e.g., a beach, park, or your own street!
- Have a LinkedIn account? Write a recommendation for coworker or connection.
- Help someone struggling with heavy bags.
- Help your elderly neighbor take out the trash or mow their lawn.
- Hide $1 bills behind products at your local supermarket.
- If you walk by a car with an expired parking meter, put a quarter in it.
- Introduce yourself to a stranger who you often cross paths with.
- Invite someone over for a home cooked meal.
- Know parents who could use a night out? Offer to babysit for free.
- Leave a kind server the biggest tip you can afford.
- Leave an interesting copy of a book on a train or bus.
- Leave quarters at the laundromat.
- Leave unused coupons next to corresponding products in the grocery store.
- Let a car into the line of traffic.
- Let someone go in front of you in the supermarket queue.
- Let them have the parking space.
- Pay the toll for the person behind you.
- Plant a tree.
- Play board games with senior citizens at a nursing home.
- Post inspirational sticky notes around your neighborhood, office, school, on the mirrors in restrooms, etc. (See http://lou.pm/50isn)
- Practice self-kindness and spend 30 minutes doing something you love today.
- Put 50 paper hearts in a box. On each cutout write something that is special about your partner or a friend. Give them the box and tell them to pull out a heart anytime they need a pick-me-up.
- Put your phone away while in the company of others.
- Relay an overheard compliment.
- Return shopping carts for people at the grocery store.
- Run or walk for a cause.
- Say thank you to a janitor.
- Say yes at the store when the cashier asks if you want to donate $1 to whichever cause.
- Send a ‘Thank you’ card or note to the officers at your local police or fire station.
- Send a gratitude email to a coworker who deserves more recognition.
- Send a positive text message to five different people right now.
- Send a thank you note to someone who has helped you in the past.
- Set an alarm on your phone to go off at three different times during the day. In those moments, do something kind for someone else.
- Sincerely compliment your boss.
- Surprise a neighbor with freshly baked cookies or treats!
- Take a couple hours out of your week to volunteer.
- Take flowers or treats to the nurses’ station at your nearest hospital.
- Take photos of your friends and make them into a digital album.
- Talk to someone you haven’t talked to before.
- Talk to the shy person who’s sitting by themselves at a party.
- Tape coins around a playground for kids to find.
- Tell your siblings how much you appreciate them.
- Volunteer to read to kids at an after-school program.
- Walk your friend’s dog.
- Wash a friend’s car.
- When everyone around you is gossiping about someone, be the one to butt in with something nice.
- When you go somewhere to get or do something, ask the people around you if you can pick up anything they need.
- Write a positive comment on your favorite blog, website, or a friend’s social media account.
- Write down three things you’re really proud that you’ve accomplished.
- Write your partner a list of things you love about them.
The idea is simple: Give what you want to receive because (1) this is showing to yourself that you had it to give in the first place, and (2) the only way to find freedom is in giving. One of the many ways to do that is to post inspirational sticky notes around your neighborhood, office, school, etc.
Here are some examples:
- An attitude of gratitude brings great things.
- At any given moment you have the power to say this is not how the story is going to end.
- Be a part of life, not afraid of it.
- Be bold. Be beautiful. Be you.
- Being positive in a negative situation is not naïve. It’s leadership.
- Believe you can and you’re halfway there.
- Change how you see, not how you look.
- Collect moments, not things.
- Complain less. Breathe more.
- Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid not to try.
- Don’t let your mind bully your body.
- Every day is beautiful if you choose to see it.
- Everything will be all right.
- Excellence is not an act. It’s a habit.
- F.A.I.L.: First Attempt In Learning.
- Glitter is my Prozac.
- Good looks fade, but a good heart keeps your beautiful forever.
- O.P.E.: Hold On, Pain Ends.
- I am a magnet for ideas.
- I am a superfly success machine.
- I am grateful for another day to shine.
- I have an abundance of energy.
- I love to hear you laugh.
- I will be a giver of love today.
- I will be fearless today.
- I will help someone today.
- I’m glad to work with you.
- It’s ok not to know, but its not ok not to try.
- Life is better with friends.
- Stop looking for the magic. You are it.
- Surround yourself with positive people.
- Take what you need: Love, joy, faith, patience, courage, understanding, peace, passion, healing, strength, beauty, freedom, security, forgiveness, kindness, motivation.
- The most successful people don’t run from change; they run toward it.
- The only person I strive to be better than is the person I was yesterday.
- The sunrise fills me with confidence.
- Today is full of possibilities.
- Today is my day.
- Today, I will learn and grow.
- Trust your inner wisdom.
- What you allow is what will continue.
- Whatever challenge come my way, I can overcome them.
- Why fit in when you were born to stand out?
- You are a walking breathing wonder.
- You are beautiful at any weight.
- You are strong than you seem, braver than you believe, and smarter than you think you are.
- You have a gorgeous smile.
- You look awesome today.
- You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.
- You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.
- You’re an unstoppable and glamorous freight train. Full speed ahead.
People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. Here are common regrets people in palliative care with weeks to live have or anything they would do differently:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I didn’t work so hard.
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Read more at https://goo.gl/Qe6DYT
For many years, to argue that laughter’s “favorable impact on the mind influences various functions of the body and makes them healthier,” as an American physician named James Walsh did in 1928, in his book “Laughter and Health,” was to make a claim without evidence. No one had investigated the matter, because the medical community in Walsh’s time, and for nearly half a century afterward, held that the human nervous system was entirely cut off from the immune system.
This bias was credibly challenged only in 1975, when Robert Ader, a psychologist at the University of Rochester, was trying to learn if rats could be conditioned to associate nausea with saccharin. Ader had given his rats the sweetener along with a drug called cyclophosphamide, to turn their stomachs. But the animals didn’t just become nauseated; they began to die. Strangely, when Ader stopped administering the cyclophosphamide but continued to feed the rats the sweetener, they still died. Cyclophosphamide, he learned, suppresses the immune system, so he contacted an immunologist named Nicholas Cohen, and the two studied the problem further. They concluded that the rats had been conditioned to suppress their immune systems whenever they tasted the sweetener. In other words, their minds were killing them.
The experiments that Ader and Cohen conducted gave birth to a field called psychoneuroimmunology, but their work did not have popular resonance. That changed a year later, when Norman Cousins wrote about his experience with laughter in the New England Journal of Medicine. Turning Ader and Cohen’s inquiry on its head, he asked the medical community, If feelings of physical and mental distress damage the body’s chemistry, then shouldn’t positive ones rehabilitate it? “Is it possible that love, hope, faith, laughter, confidence, and the will to live have therapeutic value?” Cousins asked. “Do chemical changes occur only on the downside?”
Cousins, who was the editor of the Saturday Review, had travelled to the Soviet Union in 1964, and while he was there, he said, he experienced intense stress and severe pollution. As a result, he concluded, he suffered from adrenal exhaustion, which in turn triggered ankylosing spondylitis, a painful degenerative disease of the joints. After his doctor told him that he had a one-in-five-hundred chance of full recovery, Cousins checked himself out of the hospital and into a hotel room, took huge doses of Vitamin C, and watched “Candid Camera” and the Marx Brothers. There he made “the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep.”
Laughter, Cousins claimed, helped cure his chronic ailment. In 1979, he wrote a best-selling book about his experience, titled “Anatomy of an Illness, as Perceived by the Patient,” and began to teach at U.C.L.A.’s medical school. The book attracted thousands of supporters, but also a number of skeptics. Florence Ruderman, a sociologist of medicine at Brooklyn College, writing in Commentary, took apart much of his story in a careful analysis. Ader and Cohen had demonstrated that the immune and nervous systems were linked, but Cousins was arguing something different, something unproved: that the link could be exploited as a cure. Even if positive emotions were physically beneficial in the long term, Ruderman asked, “is the will to live so easily manipulated, so dependent on trivial, superficial agencies?”
Cousins set out to prove his story. In 1988, he contacted two scientists, Lee Berk, a doctor at Loma Linda University, in Southern California, and William Fry, a psychiatrist at Stanford, after he heard that they “were dabbling in laughter.” Berk and Fry had run an experiment to learn whether laughter dampened the production of cortisol, a hormone that naturally suppresses immune function. Fry watched episodes of “Laurel & Hardy” and “Abbott & Costello,” and Berk sampled his blood. As Fry laughed, it appeared, his cortisol levels decreased. Cousins gave them a grant to do a more formal study, and, along with six other researchers, they conducted the experiment with five laughers and five other subjects who were used as controls. The results were similar, and Berk and his collaborators published them in the American Journal of the Medical Sciences. “The study has shown objective, measurable, and significant neuroendocrine and stress hormone changes with mirthful laughter,” they wrote, noting that laughter “can reverse or attenuate” hormonal changes brought on by stress. In 2001, Berk released a paper concluding that mirthful laughter increases the production of natural-killer cells, which help the body to fight viral infections and cancerous growths. Subsequent reports by Berk and others argue that laughter can have salutary effects on everything from heart disease to diabetes and allergies.
Source: “The Laughing Guru” by Raffi Khatchadourian
Note: It wasn’t until 1985 that research by neuropharmacologist Candace Pert, of the National Institutes of Health at Georgetown University, revealed that neuropeptide-specific receptors are present on the cell walls of both the brain and the immune system. The discovery that neuropeptides and neurotransmitters act directly upon the immune system shows their close association with emotions and suggests mechanisms through which emotions, from the limbic system, and immunology are deeply interdependent. Showing that the immune and endocrine systems are modulated not only by the brain but also by the central nervous system itself affected the understanding of emotions, as well as disease.
Contemporary advances in psychiatry, immunology, neurology, and other integrated disciplines of medicine has fostered enormous growth for PNI. The mechanisms underlying behaviorally induced alterations of immune function, and immune alterations inducing behavioral changes, are likely to have clinical and therapeutic implications that will not be fully appreciated until more is known about the extent of these interrelationships in normal and pathophysiological states. In this context laughter remains an unknown science and we anticipate many revealing findings from upcoming research.