“How much laughter do you get throughout your day?” I ask this question often when I work with couples. It’s a tough question to answer when your marriage is really struggling.
“I don’t feel like laughing,” or “Nothing funny is going on here,” are common responses. However, marriage reconciliation requires us to be at our best—and laughter is a key ingredient.
The benefits of laughter are physical, mental, and social.
Physically, laughter boosts your immunity, lowers stress hormones, decreases pain, relaxes your muscles, and helps prevent heart disease.
Mentally, laughter adds joy and zest to life, eases anxiety and fear, relieves stress, improves mood, and enhances resilience.
Socially, laughter strengthens relationships, attracts others, enhances teamwork, helps defuse conflict, and promotes group bonding.
Laughter is a unique commodity. It’s free, you can do it alone, and the things you can find to bring a smile to your face are limitless. Studies show even forced laughter can make you feel better, because your body still releases endorphins, which relieve stress.
My wife and I have been able to weave laughter into our interactions—even during high-stress discussions. It helps balance our response to hard topics, and reminds us we are on the same team.
I go so far as to tell clients that if your spouse calls and you don’t have a smile on your face let it go to voicemail. Don’t even read a text message or email unless you’re smiling, because laughter not only impacts how you present to the world, but also how you perceive the world around you.
First, spend a few minutes watching your favorite comedian, reading the comics, playing with the dogs, or watching another online video about cats! Do something that makes you crack a smile and genuinely laugh. Then, listen to the message from your spouse with a new perspective, and see how it impacts the outcome.
Laughter has always been called the best medicine for good reason!
You can do this!