It’s Tuesday-teach Yoga and go home. That is what I do. But this Tuesday, I decided to take myself out to lunch. I don’t remember the last time I did, so must mean it’s been a while. One of my favorite places to go is The General Store downtown. If the first thing that comes to your mind is there is no food there, think again. Yes, it is a store with over 500 different beers, candy from the good old days ( Neco, sky bars), they have more, but now I have lost my memory. They also have incense, Saki, homemade soaps, Jamaican seasoning, green tea, you get the idea. It is not only nostalgic, but the owners are like family. Not to mention that the food is outstanding. I had a veggie Panini and a cup of chicken turnip soup. You can sit inside or outside, doesn’t matter which you chose, every time you go, something catches your eye that you didn’t see the previous visit. When you are there, you go back to when life was simple and easy. A little get away without spending a lot of money.
So, as I was enjoying my lunch, a magazine called “Charm” got my attention. It is a small publication for the Treasure Coast, filled with short stories, local businesses and upcoming events. There was one story that I liked the most and want to share it with you.
PUT ON A HAPPY FACE….AND YOUR BODY WILL FOLLOW
“I heard a definition once. Happiness is health and a short memory! I wish I’d invented it, because it is very true.” -Audrey Hepburn
This statement is true because when you are in good health, life is much happier. There are fewer things to worry about when you feel good. Even the common cold can play on you. “How am I going to take care of my family?” “How does the house get cleaned?” Workouts, etc.?
The short memory comes into play as it relates to stressful situations. Sometimes, the less we remember about things, the better off we are. I definitely have friends who are in denial or who have selective memory and seem much happier throughout their day. But we all can’t go through life fluttering around from place to place and person to person. We make commitments that have to be fulfilled. The key is “how do we find happiness” that allows our bodies and minds to keep moving? For me, happiness stems from seeing my husband sleeping next to me, and then how I physically feel each morning as the alarm goes off. When I wake up and get out of bed, am I moving slowly as I set off to wake my other happiness up for school, my daughter. Am I sore from working out? Did I get enough sleep the night before? I look forward to my coffee and meditating until my daughter comes flying down the stairs. That is my morning happy.
Once my daughter is off to school and the dog is walked and my husband is off to work, I turn the focus to my next happy. Working out…no matter what else is going on or how I feel, a workout enhances my good mood or can turn a bad one into happy. In the words of Elle Woods, “Exercise makes people happy, happy people don’t kill their husbands.” And why don’t happy people kill their husbands? Happy people laugh a lot. And laughter, according to Norman Cousins, “is a form of internal jogging. It moves your internal organs around. It enhances respiration.”
Vanderbilt University did a study that found that adults burn an average of 1.3 calories per minute of laughing. Or laughing a 100 times is equal to 15 minutes on an exercise bike. By the way, children laugh on average about 400 times per day, while adults laugh about 15 times.
From an anatomical standpoint, the anatomy of a laugh is as follows:
There are 12 facial, jaw, and throat muscles involved in the laugh/smile. Zygomatic, risorious and ocular muscles of the face contract; mandibular muscles also may rhythmically contract. While laughing, the abdominal muscles and diaphragm contract and the vocal cords uncontrollably vibrate.
Gelotology is the study of laughter and its effects on the body, from a psychological and physiological perspective, specifically to the cause and effect of laughter and stress on the body. Laughter counteracts stress by accelerating heart rate, increasing blood pressure, and releasing dopamine into the brain(all similar to exercise). These hormones restore balance. Exercise and laughter have several other things in common. They improve cholesterol and blood pressure, decrease stress hormones, strengthen the immune system and increase appetite.
Laughter Yoga, developed by Dr. Madan Kataria, found that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter. Therefore, a person gets the same physiological and psychological benefits from both. Through a series of childlike play, breathing techniques and the mind-body/body-mind connection, laughter is generated to increase overall well being. A perfect example of putting on a happy face…And the body following. through Laughter Yoga, you teach yourself to laugh even if you are not “in the mood” or you do not see something funny. Dr. Kataria has said that, “You don’t see anyone dying of laughter, they die because they are not laughing.” Laughter creates a happy state and a person’s physiology can reflect that. For more information, go to http://www.laughteryoga.org.
Lord Byron said, “Laugh whenever you can; it’s cheap exercise.” And now we know why. Take the time to find your happiness. Laugh as much as you can during each day, and like Eleanor Roosevelt said, you will find that your “happiness and well-being will be a by-product of a life well lived.”
If your mind and body will believe whatever you tell them to, then by all means, tell them to be happy. Do the things you need to do to induce happiness. And remember, if you put on a happy face, your body will follow.
Article by Nancy Matican Bock