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Stephanie Marston is America's Foremost Life Balance Expert

Issue 12 December 2005

Sanity Saver#2: Lighten Up

Okay ladies, now here’s something to consider. Did you know that it takes seventeen muscles to smile and forty-three to frown?

The number of times per day an average preschooler laughs is 400. The average number of times per day an average adult laughs is fifteen. What’s up with us? Clearly we need to lighten up.

Laughter is healing. A good laugh is therapeutic. Did you know that when you laugh your brain secretes chemicals that act as antidepressants. Laughter even gives your immune system a boost. It’s a great stress reducer. When you laugh your brain releases endorphins that create feelings of joy and euphoria. There’s nothing like a good laugh to break the intensity of a situation and give you some much needed perspective.

Having a sense of humor is another facet of restoring your sanity and creating greater balance in your life. Yet, in the midst of our hectic routines we often forget to laugh. We become so serious that we lose touch with our sense of joy and become somber and stale. Neither of which is good for our overall sense of well-being.

We’ve all had days when nothing seems to go right. We want things to be a certain way and we just can’t make it happen. One of the greatest benefits of having a sense of humor is if you can laugh, you can get through anything. You simply can’t laugh and be stressed at the same time. We have a choice. We can allow ourselves to become more and more uptight or we can accept things as they are and lighten up. Do you take yourself and your life too seriously?

Think about when you are able to laugh at yourself in the midst of a difficult or frustrating situation the relief it brings. Make a point of lightening up. Start to see the humor in the ironies of everyday life.

Here’s a tip. The next time you’re stressed out I’d like you to stand there with a big grin on your face. 2 things will happen. You’ll feel better and no one’s going to bother you. People will think, “Something’s wrong with Barbara, leave her alone today.”

Just to tickle your funny bone, I’d like to tell you a story about a little 4-year-old girl. She went to the doctor for her annual check up. She has a particularly friendly doctor with a great bedside manner. The doctor takes out his odoscope, looks in her ears and says, “Am I going to find Big Bird in there?” The little girl looks at the doctor with her big eyes and says, “Oh no, Big Birds not in there.” Then the doctor takes the light and shines it down the little girl’s throat and asks, “ Am I going to find cookie monster in there?” “Oh no, cookie monster’s not in there.”

Then the doctor takes his stethoscope and places on the little girl’s heart to listen to her heart beat and says, “Am I going to find Barney in there?” The little girl says, “Oh no, God is in my heart. Barney’s in my underwear.”

So remember to laugh, not only is it fun, but it puts things in perspective and it’s a great restorer of sanity.