Mindfulness and Laughter: Boosting Your LOL Quotient
by Maya Frost
There's a relatively new field of psychology referred to as happiness studies. While I like to imagine researchers goofing around all day with whoopee cushions and googley-eye glasses, it's quite a serious area. It poses some critical questions--and digs up interesting answers--regarding what makes humans happy.
The givens: love, health, (relative) wealth, and creative outlets. More to the point: belly laughs.
Even if we've got the love/health/wealth thing figured out, it doesn't mean we're having a good time. We can have everything we've ever wanted--on paper, at least--and still be unhappy.
What's emerging in study after study is that people want to have fun.
Yet, again and again, we choose to spend our time on activities that we think will be fun, that might have been fun at one time, but just take up time without giving us those belly laughs. Worse, many of our chosen "leisure" or "recreation" activities actually reduce our happiness levels.
We've stopped paying attention to what I call the LOL quotient: the frequency of Laughing Out Loud. It's amazing how many people can go through an entire day--or even longer--without a single belly laugh. We put our getting-it-done face on and just get through the day.
That's no fun.
The solution? Pay attention to your LOL quotient, and choose ways to boost it.
Let's look at exercise. Now, we all know we need to do it. We also know it helps us feel happy--or at least, those endorphins have the power to boost our feeling of well being.
But sometimes we get dragged down by the very activity we think will help us. Are you laughing during your workout? It's a great way to boost your LOL quotient.
At one time, my family belonged to a mega fitness center. Sparkling new, full of amenities, loads of classes.
It was such a depressing place. The women looked absolutely dour. In the locker room, they were sniping and complaining about their lives. The men were running on the treadmill while earnestly reading the financial magazines. Frantic mothers were squabbling with their toddlers before and after dropping them off in the childcare center. Only in a couple of dance classes were people having any fun.
While living in Mexico a few years ago, my daughters and I joined a gym at which we busted a gut laughing on every visit. It was just too dorky for words, and even though it was sweaty (no air conditioning!) and dingy, the people were hilarious, and we laughed to the point that we had to stop exercising just to catch our breath. We absolutely loved our workouts there.
When we moved to Buenos Aires, we had lots of choices of gyms to join. We quickly dismissed the big gleaming fitness center packed full of exercisers on overdrive. We skipped the ominously-named "Steel and Blood" gym. Instead, we went for the local club on our corner that had regular people popping in for 30-minute workouts, was decorated with cheesy posters, played a hilarious mix of music, and was closed on Sundays.
We had learned that laughter makes exercise more fun. And we wanted the bliss of knowing that we couldn't possibly go to the gym on Sundays even if we wanted to--we just have to find something fun and active to do instead.
As a former fitness trainer, I know what we need to do to get strong. But I also know what we need to do to get HAPPY. And I'd root for happiness over fitness every time.
In Buenos Aires, tango is huge. There are tango halls packed with would-be dancers. People travel from around the world solely to watch the tango shows, take lessons, and take their turn on the dance floor.
I could never get into it. Why? Because it is so serious! There is no laughing in tango. It is earnest, and there are all kinds of rules and rituals.
Give me salsa dancing any time. You dance like a crazy person to happy music, you can laugh all you like, and you still get to wear sexy dresses and fabulous shoes.
Pay attention to the choices you're making. Take a look at where and when you're laughing and, just as importantly, where and when you're NOT.
Focus on ONE area, such as exercise, and take a serious look at how much fun you're having.
Remember that laughter isn't just the best medicine--it can be the best exercise. Find ways to do frequent sets of Ha!-Ha!-Ha! and you'll have an enviable LOL quotient.
It's going to look great on you.
© 2006-2020 Maya Frost
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Maya Frost is an author, mindfulness trainer, and creative change strategist.
Learn more at MayaFrost.com