‘God gave us a gift of smiles and laughter – use them.’ The Dalai Lama.

Oh, isn’t it lovely to laugh wholeheartedly! I was watching an interview with the Dalai Lama when he said the above quote, and boy does he live what he preaches – he is constantly smiling or laughing. And I realised that every time he smiled or laughed, I did too – his joy was so infectious.

It feels as if our whole body is grateful when we laugh: our muscles relax, our hearts open, and it feels as if we let go of all our tensions. And of course we do! There is a saying: ‘Laughter is the best medicine.’ It automatically sets off the positive health-giving chemicals in us, it makes us breathe more deeply and oxygenate our bodies, and it releases tensions in our muscles. What an easy way to enhance our health!

And it does more than just enhance our physical health. At the same time as letting go of our physical tensions, we stop, for a moment, holding on to our mental tensions. Our minds go quiet, that damn voice in our heads shuts up, and we just allow ourselves to be in this moment of joy. Mentally we become whole again, leaving behind our fears and worries.

Those moments of laughter free us from being caught up in our story, giving us space to regain perspective and remember who we really are. So thank God for those who make us laugh: the comedian, the pet’s antics, the small child, the friends, and the Dalai Lama!

And remember that laughter is infectious. If you see someone laughing, it is hard to resist joining in: our facial muscles automatically copy those of someone we’re watching – we mirror them at a micro-muscular level – so you’re already halfway there. It doesn’t take much to go all the way and join in, and it is a really enjoyable thing to do.

So for goodness’ sake, find reasons to laugh every day, allow yourself to be infected by the laughter of others, and actively use this gentle, God-given gift to keep yourself healthy.

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