Guest Post by Kaia Roman of The Joy Plan
We’re doing a 5-day #JoyChallenge this week here at Annmarie Skin Care. Each day, you’ll find a new challenge up on the blog. These practices are described in more detail in my new book The Joy Plan (coming July 11, pre-order here).
On my 30-day Joy Plan, I had to come to grips with something. I’m quite a serious person. I like to ponder and discuss deep and meaningful topics, geek out about science, learn new things, and solve problems. Those activities aren’t exactly humorous unless, of course, you have a great sense of humor. Which I actually think I have. I crack myself up all the time. But the only people that usually witnessed my comedic side were my children.
Day 5: Laughter
Laughter floods your brain and body with mood-boosting serotonin.
I was often silly with my kids, so I knew I had it in me. To laugh more, I just had to start being silly with other people too. I set a goal to make at least one person laugh every day, and so I started joking around with the teachers and other parents when I picked the kids up at school.
My husband came home from work a couple of times and asked, “Have you been drinking?” when he found me trying to juggle oranges in the kitchen or only speaking by singing—but I told him I was just trying to lighten up. My kids were also surprised to see me joking around more with other people besides them, and they loved it.
Today, your challenge is simple: laugh as often as possible. Look around you for opportunities to laugh, and go out of your way to seek them out.
Watch a funny movie, steer the conversation to humorous topics with your friends, and do your best to stop taking yourself so seriously. Consider checking out “laughter yoga” videos, or silly cat videos for that matter, on YouTube. Crack a joke in conversations, and see what witty responses people come back with.
You’ll find that laughter becomes kind of a habit. It can be challenging if you’re not used to it (like me), but I bet you’ll like it.
Laughing releases endorphins, the brain’s “feel good” hormones that activate the body’s opiate receptors, reducing pain while increasing pleasure.
Endorphins are behind the light-headed, giddy feeling you can get from laughing. They reduce the body’s stress response and relax the muscles. Full belly laughs, in particular, also release oxytocin, which bathes our nervous system in a warm, fuzzy glow.
And to add to the good news, your laughter will likely spread. You know those people who always make you feel better when you’re around them? The ones with the infectious smile and bright eyes and bold laugh? It might be the person at the grocery checkout counter, or your own best friend, but I’m sure you know someone whose joy spreads to everyone they meet.
I can think of quite a few people I’ve been blessed to know like this. I always feel joyful, even after the briefest of interactions with them. Because of the mirror neurons in our brains related to imitation, joy (and every other emotion, too) is literally contagious. Go ahead, pass it on!
Joy is a habit that can be cultivated with practice and repetition. And it’s more fun to do it with friends! I invite you to keep the #JoyChallenge going beyond these five days, and watch how your life transforms!
*This post is partially excerpted from The Joy Plan: How I Took 30 Days to Stop Worrying, Quit Complaining, and Find Ridiculous Happiness. Available everywhere books are sold July 11. Pre-order on Amazon.