Laughter: A Fun Emotional Fitness Exercise
The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter
Mark Twain, American humorist
So many tangles in life are ultimately hopeless that we have no appropriate sword other than laughter.
Gordon Allport, Philosopher and psychologist
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Each Emotional Fitness Training (EFT) exercise is designed to strengthen your ability to control negative feelings. Feelings signal the need to act and an intensely negative feeling signals a need to act quickly, without thinking. When you act before thinking, the feeling bosses you. and you often end up doing things you regret. Think before acting and you are the boss.
How laughter helps you control bossy feelings
1. Laughter strengthens your general emotional and physical fitness.
“People become healthier from laughter,” observes Judy Goldblum-Carlton, a humor therapist at the University of Maryland Hospital for Children’s Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.
She goes on to say, “It improves circulation. When you laugh heartily, every organ is being massaged including your heart, lungs and digestive system. Headaches can just go away. When you laugh the endorphins released make you feel this elation. It makes those big decisions seem so much less important.”
2. A well honed ability to laugh eases tension and or stress.
3. Laughter requires a little thought and that slows down the impulse to act.
4. Laughter provides perspective to focus you on what matters. What matters? Being kind and if you want to be emotionally healthy.
THE LAUGHTER RULES
For laughter to strengthen your emotional fitness certain rules need to be in play.
Rule One: Do not use laughter to make fun or put down other s
All laughter feels good, but laughing at others is cruel and in the long run is not healthy. When you can live at peace with the idea that you and all others humans are flawed in one way or another, you on your way to comedic genius.
If you find an ethic joke particularly applicable to most of the human race, tell it to yourself with your particular group as the butt of the joke. It doesn’t make you laugh told that way, then it is a cruel joke and shouldn’t be told. Since there might be life on Mars, it is time to begin putting alien jokes off bounds. However, you might be able to use Purple People Eater to tell ethnic jokes. If more than one person is involved use dinosaurs, birds or animals, but make sure your dog, cat, canary, parrot, or pet cow isn’t listening.
Rule Two: Laugh lots
The more you can laugh, the healthier you become.
Rule Three: Practice laughing
Nothing funny has to be going on in order to practice laughing.
Here is an EFT exercise designed to practice laughing.
Silent to loud laughter: Start with a smile while you imagine you are looking at a sleeping baby, take a breath and laugh silently for a few seconds; take another breath and do a few soft yogic laughs (ho, ho, ha, ha, ha, ho ho, ha, ha, ha and so on); clap your hands, stamp your feet and continue with the yogic laughs until you are laughing out loud.
Best done in private to avoid being thought insane or inane.
Rule Four: Find or create laughter where and when ever you can
Post one-liners and funny cartoons around your home and your work space.
Create a joke night ritual with your family.
Read the funnies.
Go to funny movies.
Collect and periodically review funny U tube clips.
Start a Laughter Club. Dr Madan Kataria started Laughter Yoga in India in 1995, with a group of five people in a park. Now there are laughing clubs all over the world. People gather not to tell jokes or watch funny movies or tv clips, but just to laugh together.
Rule Five: Let others know you are trying to be funny.
Announce your jokes, “That reminds me of a joke.”
Use body language to show you are teasing or making a joke. Put on a happy face.
Avoid gestures that are connected to sarcasm . Those gestures? Lifted eyebrows, rolling eyes and a smirking mouth.
Rule Six: Learn to laugh at yourself.
Learning to laugh at yourself is an important life skills. It comes with realizing you are not the center of the universe and that comes with age and perspective.
A stutterer who has learned to say “Is there an echo around here?” fairs better than the one who speaks less and less for fear of being scorned.
Josh Blue is a master at this. Go Here for a taste of his routine.
Rule Seven: Learn from the professionals.
Watch the comedians particularly those that use self-deprecation as a comedic tool. As noted above Josh Blue is one.
Rodney Dangerfield another. Here’s a quote from his autobiography, It’s Not Easy Bein’ Me. “According to statistics about men in their eighties, only one out of a hundred makes it to ninety. With odds like that, I’m writing very fast. I want to get it all done. I mean, I’m not a kid anymore, I’m getting old. The other night, I was driving, I had an accident. I was arrested for hit-and-walk.”
Susan J. Vamos a plus size comedian uses the following in her show: “Now, get ready for fat lady to sing (and you aren’t going to enjoy it because I’m tone-deaf.)”
Rule Eight: Develop some snappy and humorous comebacks for when your efforts at humor fail.
Here are some samples:
Guess I need more practice before I make it to Last Comic Standing.
I told my writer that wouldn’t get a laugh.
Guess I better stop stealing jokes from a five-year old.
Usually I charge for this kind of performance, you are getting it for free.
Rule Nine: Develop and practice some useful comebacks when someone is giving you a hard time or laughing at you.
Was that supposed to be a joke? (This sometimes gets an apology, particularly if you can say it with a bit of a smile.)
You most have gotten your sense of humor at a Dollar Store sale.
You need to pay more for your jokes
Rule Ten: Be careful when telling dirty jokes.
You really never other people’s dirty joke tolerance level is or who might tell the joke again attaching your name to it.
Rule Eleven: If the other person doesn’t get it or seems hurt or upset, apologize and mean it.
This often happens when you think you are only teasing someone. Tease or tell jokes carefully; and even then watch for responses that say the other person is more hurt than amused. Then you need to apologize.
Rule Twelve: Practice forgiveness, kindness, and letting go.
We all need to forgive others, to ask for forgiveness, to forgive ourselves. Doing so helps us remember what matters and let go of anger or hurt. Forgiveness is easier if you remember no one is perfect.
Here’s a joke that reminds us, no one is perfect:
A young woman is reading aloud the label on her new, fashionably crinkled outfit: “Wrinkles and imperfections are part of the desired look.” Her elderly mother responds: “Now they tell me.”
The following thoughts may help you forgive. In his book The Medusa and the Snail, the biologist, Lewis Thomas observes that we humans “…are built to make mistakes, coded for error…We learn, as we say, by trial and error…because that is, in real life, the way it is done.”
Imperfection in the form of DNA’s mutations is one of creation’s building blocks. Thomas believes that without the ability of DNA to mutate, there would be nothing living but green sludge.
Better in my book to be a living, breathing, imperfect person, than a bit of algae. Of course, bits of algae may not agree.
A FEW LAUGHING EXERCISES
Lion laughter—This is a laughing yoga exercise: Open your mouth wide, stick out your tongue, make your hands into claws, and think of yourself as a lion as you laugh.
Face Feuds—These work well to get squabbling children into a better mood. Without talking or touching the other person, communicate your feelings with your face.
The High Five Laugh:When there is something to celebrate, start High Fiving the people in the room as you smile and then laugh.
The Evil Laugh: When you want to make light of some less savory scheme either yours or another’s, either twirl a fake mustache or rub your hands together while saying “he, he, he. he, he”.
Use this one as an icebreaker if you lead workshops
Hello, How are you laughter:” Teach the Namaste greeting:(putting your hands together palm up and held about your breast bone, bow your head while smiling softly).Then line everyone up in two groups facing each other and have them greet each other while turning the smile into a ho, ho, ha, ha, laugh.. \Ring a bell to signal moving onto the next person.
WHEN MORE IS NEEDED
God gave us crying so other folks could see when we needed help, and help us.
Joshilyn Jackson, American author
You may need more help than one EFT exercise provides. Trying some more of EFT’s exercises might do the trick. Probably the best place to start is with our e-Book Self-Soothing to Create Calm in Your Life.
When a bit more is needed, try the following
A Support Group:The right support group might help. Look for a support group that involves more than just getting together to complain. Minimally, a support group should involve sharing information in a useful way. The best support groups also affirm strength and help members stay in touch with all that is good while allowing some time to deal with releasing frustration.
Some Coaching: Getting the help you need often starts with coaching. Sometimes having a formal relationship with a coach who will cheer you on and hold you accountable works wonders.
Be clear when professional help is needed
When you cannot laugh, particularly at the things that once amused you, you need professional help. When laughter has been absent from your life for more than a few weeks, you have either been traumatized or visited by a major depression. When that is the case need more than self-help. you need to think seriously about professional help and that means seeing a therapist
Emotional Fitness Training® is not therapy. Therapy has to do with healing. Emotional Fitness Training® programs have to do with strengthening. If you cannot function – get up out of bed, do the things that have to be done, find some pleasure in life, laugh and play, you need more help than a self-help course can provide.
Talk to your physician about where you can go for help. Life can be better. You deserve happiness.
ALMOST THE END
Thank you reading this far.
I have been told the way to find inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished two chocolate bars, three cups of coffee, a plate of ice cream and finally this book.
You have finished this book. Hope it brought a chuckle or two.
If you have found reading Tiny e-Book, practice kindness by sharing it with some others. Practicing Kindness is another easy Emotional Fitness Exercise.
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How To Be In Touch With Me
Katherine’s Amazon’s Author Page
About Emotional Fitness Training, Inc
I founded Emotional Fitness Training, Inc in 1986 for the purpose of sharing knowledge and making some money doing good. Did not make much money, but hopefully my efforts have done some good.
My programs put into practice what Daniel Goleman wrote about in his best-selling book Emotional Intelligence. His book is theory based. My EFT exercises put theory to work. Hopefully, the book you have just read demonstrates that.
About Me As Written By Someone Else
Katherine Gordy Levine is a mother, grandmother and foster parent to almost 400 troubled teens;s he is also an accredited therapist; she has taught for twenty years at Columbia University’s School of Social Work as well at Smith College’s School of Social Work; she directed mental health crisis programs for families and children in the poverty and crime ridden South Bronx; she has trained other crisis teams dealing with youth at risk of imprisonment or hospitalization; she has\put in 20 years working as a professional speaker, workshop leader , and Emotional Fitness Trainer; finally, she is an author of over 20 books.