Smile and Laugh Like an Optimist
Just smile. Smile at other people. Smile at yourself in the mirror. If necessary, fake it till you make it.
Never underestimate the power of a smile. We know that smiling stimulates brain patterns which reinforce feelings of happiness and optimism.
As Dr David Topor wrote, “A psychotherapy technique to cope with sad feelings is to practice smiling for a few minutes each day. If a full smile is not possible, a half-smile works as well. Notice any impact on your thoughts, mood, and level of optimism.”
As powerfully, Ros Ben-Moshe, author of “Laughing at Cancer - How to Heal with Love, Laughter and Mindfulness" told me, “Optimism can be found in a heartfelt smile that spreads from one face to another."
Laughter and Humour
Life may have many difficulties, but there’s usually a funny side to every situation.
My cousin Karina Wegner is a psychologist in Australia’s sub-tropical Hervey Bay. Karina’s well-researched expert opinion is that “you should have as much fun as possible and laugh as much as you can. When you couple these together, you should be able to keep ‘depression’ (what they now call the disease of the 21st century) away. When you enjoy yourself and laugh, you will increase the serotonin levels in your body, thereby decreasing the risk of depression. When my clients leave my office in Queensland’s Hervey Bay, my practice manager makes sure the client is laughing or at least smiling before they leave. I have a waiting list of near three months and my clients travel long distances to see the “Optimistic Psychologist.”
University studies have shown laughter can improve your immune system. increase disease fighting antibodies and lower inflammation in the body. Laughter increases heart rate and blood flow, and has similar health benefits to exercising. Endorphins are released during laughter, which helps to relieve pain, reduce cravings and stress, and slow the ageing process.
Humour can alleviate feelings of stress and depression.
It’s not always easy but when family and colleagues test your patience, put a smile on your face - even forced ones help. Try to find the humour in the situation and make a light-hearted comment. Not always easy, but give it a go!
In Part 2 of my book "Optimism: The How and Why", there’s a chapter on the humour of optimism which may help lighten your mood and put people at ease as you become more of an infectious optimist.
Otherwise, go out and buy a book of jokes or dust off those joke books gathering dust on your bookshelves.
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