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Be Serious To Laugh

Posted 10/18/2021

"Keep a sense of humour. It doesn’t mean you have to tell jokes. If you can’t think of anything else, when you’re my age, take off your clothes and walk in front of a mirror. I guarantee you’ll get a laugh."-Art Linkletter

Laughter generally happens from stimuli completely unrelated to psychological state. An inward feeling of joy and happiness occurs with a joke or tickling triggered. Chemically speaking, releasing of nitrous oxide generates a feeling of euphoria which makes a person laugh. It is blessing and our ability to laugh and therefore the child laughs before he or she speaks. Laughter is a fundamental part of human and understandably common in everyday life.

Drawing upon ten years of research into this most common-yet complex and often puzzling-human phenomenon, Dr. Robert Provine, the world's leading scientific expert on laughter, investigates laughing as an evolution in his book ‘Laughter: A Scientific Investigation’, its role in social relationships, its contagiousness, its neural mechanisms and its health benefits.

Why do we laugh? Laughter has surprisingly little to do with jokes and funny stories. It is an ancient, unconsciously controlled vocal relic that co-exists with modern speech—-a social, psychological and biological act which predates humour and is shared with our primate cousins, the great apes. With startling effect, laughter reveals why humans can talk and other apes cannot and leads to the discovery of the event essential for the evolution of human speech and language. Laughter is used as a powerful, uncensored probe into human social relationships, revealing that tickle is an important form of tactile communication, that women laugh more at men than vice-versa, that speakers laugh more than their audience, and that laughter is a social glue that draws group members into the fold. Using the latest evidence, much presented for the first time, Robert Provine evaluates whether you can “laugh your way to health,” considers what laughter shows about neuropathology, and suggests how to change environments to increase laughter.

Health benefits of laughter

A link between laughter and healthy function of blood vessels was first reported in 2005 by researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Centre with the fact that laughter causes the dilatation of the inner lining of blood vessels, the endothelium, and increases blood flow. Drs. Michael Miller (University of Maryland) and William Fry (Stanford) theorize that beta-endorphin like compounds released by the hypothalamus activate receptors on the endothelial surface to release nitric oxide, thereby resulting in dilation of vessels. Other cardio protective properties of nitric oxide include reduction of inflammation and decreased platelet aggregation.

Laughter has proven beneficial effects on various other aspects of biochemistry. It has been shown to lead to reductions in stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine. When laughing the brain also releases endorphins that can relieve some physical pain. Laughter also boosts the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T-cells, leading to a stronger immune system. A 2000 study found that people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh and be able to recognize humour in a variety of situations, compared to people of the same age without heart disease.

Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter

Dr. Lee Berk and fellow researcher Dr. Stanley Tan of Loma Linda University in California have been studying the effects of laughter on the immune system. To date their published studies have shown that laughing lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, increases muscle flexion, and boosts immune function by raising levels of infection-fighting T-cells, disease-fighting proteins called Gamma-interferon and B-cells, which produce disease-destroying antibodies. Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, and produces a general sense of well-being.

Following is a summary of his research, taken from an interview published in the September/October 1996 issue of the Humour and Health Journal.

 Laughter Activates the Immune System

In Berk's study, the physiological response produced by belly laughter was opposite of what is seen in classical stress, supporting the conclusion that mirthful laughter is a eustress state -- a state that produces healthy or positive emotions.

Research results indicate that, after exposure to humour, there is a general increase in activity within the immune system, including:

  • An increase in the number and activity level of natural killer cells that attack viral infected cells and some types of cancer and tumour cells.
  • An increase in activated T cells (T lymphocytes). There are many T cells that await activation. Laughter appears to tell the immune system to "turn it up a notch."
  • An increase in the antibody IgA (immunoglobulin A), which fights upper respiratory tract insults and infections.
  • An increase in gamma interferon, which tells various components of the immune system to "turn on."
  • An increase in IgB, the immunoglobulin produced in the greatest quantity in body, as well as an increase in Complement 3, which helps antibodies to pierce dysfunctional or infected cells. The increase in both substances was not only present while subjects watched a humour video; there also was a lingering effect that continued to show increased levels the next day.

 Laughter Decreases "Stress" Hormones

The results of the study also supported research indicating a general decrease in stress hormones that constrict blood vessels and suppress immune activity. These were shown to decrease in the study group exposed to humour.

For example, levels of epinephrine were lower in the group both in anticipation of humour and after exposure to humour. Epinephrine levels remained down throughout the experiment.

In addition, dopamine levels (as measured by dopac) were also decreased. Dopamine is involved in the "fight or flight response" and is associated with elevated blood pressure.

Laughing is aerobic, providing a workout for the diaphragm and increasing the body's ability to use oxygen.

Laughter brings in positive emotions that can enhance – not replace -- conventional treatments. Hence it is another tool available to help fight the disease.

Experts believe that, when used as an adjunct to conventional care, laughter can reduce pain and aid the healing process. For one thing, laughter offers a powerful distraction from pain.

In a study published in the Journal of Holistic Nursing, patients were told one-liners after surgery and before painful medication was administered. Those exposed to humour perceived less pain when compared to patients who didn't get a dose of humour as part of their therapy.

Perhaps, the biggest benefit of laughter is that it is free and has no known negative side effects.

Laughter clubs and Yoga

There are informal groups of people who get together to laugh as a form of exercise called laughter or laughing club. They are fully independent, not-for-profit, non-political, non-religious and non-competitive community-based associations of diverse people who choose to be happy. One should become part of these types of activities especially at middle or old age.

Laughter yoga [1](Hasyayoga) is a modern exercise involving prolonged voluntary laughter. This type of yoga is based on the belief that voluntary laughter provides similar physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter. It is usually done in groups, with eye contact and much playfulness between participants. Intentional laughter often turns into real and contagious laughter.

Laughter Yoga was popularized by family physician Madan Kataria who modernized and simplified the work of earlier laughter pioneers,  who taught very similar concepts starting in the 1960s. Madan Kataria wrote about his experience in his 2002 book Laugh For No Reason.

Laughter yoga is found in 53 countries. There are about 5,000 Laughter Yoga clubs worldwide, with roughly 200 of those in the United States.

Take away

 

1. Live, love, learn and laugh.

2. Laugh at your mistakes and you will never be exhausted.



[1] Source: en.wikipedia.org

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Happiness Is All In Your Mind

Posted 10/18/2021

“Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate. So practice happy thinking every day. Cultivate the merry heart, develop the happiness habit, and life will become a continual feast.”    

-Norman Vincent Peale

I want to ask two questions in the beginning.

“Are you having a good day?”

If you answer is “Yes.”

My second question is “Why you are having a good day?”

If it is “No.”

“Why you are having bad day?”

My last question to you, “Would you have a good day or bad day tomorrow?”

When you have a good day, you are happy. Is there any day on which you want to be unhappy?”

Your Why Is Important

We have to understand, ‘what is the reason you are having good day or what is the reason you are having bad day?’

Most of the time our mind is like a balloon in the wind and blown away here and there by external circumstances. When you are going your way you are happy but when there is diversion, you are not happy. Suppose you are in your office and you have been allotted a work which you does not like it but you have to finish it, you are displeased. But if you have a passion for some work and asked to carry out the work, you will be very happy.

Whenever you depend upon the external circumstances for happiness it is always disappointing affairs. It is not always possible to control people or the circumstances in our favour. Many a times it is not possible to change the situation or event but we can control or moderate our reaction to that situation or event. We have to implement two things,

1. Stop outsourcing happiness

Outsourcing happiness or unhappiness is undesirable if you want to be really happy. When you rely upon outside sources, you always require someone to have pleasant feelings. You have to stop blaming others for your unhappiness. If you blame others for your unhappiness means you make your state of mind unstable. Ultimately you give the power to someone else for your success, growth or peace of mind. Every adverse situation or event can be turned for your advantage. It is the state of the mind that decides your happiness.

2. Source Of Happiness Within

The true source of happiness which can never end is from within. I had read a story about the disciple of Budha. One of his disciples Punn Vatsyat completed his teaching from master and therefore Budha told him to select one of  the villages to serve the people. He selected a village where people were known for very bad behaviours. Budha told not to go there as people may abuse. The disciple said, “Lord, let them abuse me, at least they will not bit me.”

Budha said, “Suppose they bit you?”

Disciple said, “Ok, but at least they will not kill me?”

Budha said, “Suppose they kill you?”

Punn said, “If they kill me, my all sins will vanish and I will think myself lucky that I am free from suffering.” Budha tried to test him all the ways, but external environment was no where responsible for the happiness of his disciple. So the happiness is all about state of mind regardless of people or circumstances. If the mind is  unpleasant feelings or agitated, no external environment can make you happy. It depends upon how you respond to external circumstances that decides your happiness.

3. Meditation

During formal meditation you are trying to concentrate on a positive peaceful state of mind. You observe the breathing and when your mind starts wandering, again try to concentrate on breathing. During short meditation stretches and try to tap into our own potential for peaceful positive state of mind. You slowly become aware of your breath at the tip of your nose. In the process you are breathing out your agitations, any mental stresses or frustrations or kind of unhappiness in your life just like dark and smokes. While breathing in you can image inhaling clear bright light which is a very nature of peace. Imagine that this bright light fills your entire body and mind. Continue in this state for few minutes and simply enjoy. This inner peace is coming from within and fills your mind with happiness. Practice this simple meditation and just be determined on daily basis to bring this inner peace with you into rest of the day to benefit yourself and others.

Take Away

1. Happiness is subjective and it is matter of choice. Doing what you like is freedom, liking what you do is happiness.

2. You can even enjoy ‘pains’ because sometimes, life is all about risks, priorities, and sacrifices.

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Train your mind to control your thoughts

Posted 10/18/2021

“Thoughts can be your best friends or your worst enemies.”-Matthieu Ricard

Training of mind for controlling your thoughts in a desired manner is just like any other subjective training just like playing a piano, riding a horse or learning to swim. You may have adequate potential and may do at least 10 % of the task in right manner but with predetermined training you may add rest of 90 %.

You are some total of your thoughts. Thoughts become things. Your good thoughts may lead you to your subjective success and  bad thoughts may lead you to uncomfortable position and may invite stressful situation and you may feel insecure.

Your mind may be running with bunch of thoughts as following,

“ I will receive my card secret PIN, oh , I have not yet settled my password for my email. Due to heavy rush my transaction in the bank could not be done. I have not finished my assignment given by my boss. My four wheel not yet serviced. The clerk had very bad manner in Government office, I must complain to get my job done and so on.”

None of us are free from worries, anxiety, problems and desires. Your present state of affairs is never satisfactory. You always strive to achieve more and thoughts are struggling to wander in search of different ways and means to get more things to be done. You always try to be more and more comfortable and therefore thoughts will always try to be more and more striving in nature.

Meditate and observe thoughts

The best way to control your thoughts is the period at which your thoughts are at lowest flow. Prepare your body and mind by light exercises and sit in comfortable position in meditation to initiate control. Concentrate on breathing. Put your thoughts to symbolically at rest. Count your breathing in increasing and then in decreasing manner. After several counts the thoughts will stabilise at minimum intensity. Surrender you attitude to solve any one of your problems.

 

Share your thoughts to close friend

When you are in the company of good friend, you can spit out your thoughts. Your friend recognises your buried feelings and therefore acknowledges them. When you express your thoughts to your friend, the act will give you psychological relief.

Muhammad Ali has rightly said, “Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”

Having a “best friend” is one of life’s most precious gifts. That’s why it is said, “You need not open your heart in operation theatre with surgical instruments if your have opened it in front of your friend.”

Live in the present

Most of the time person is away from present time and wander in past or future, there by completely ignoring the importance of present. Initially, do not judge your thoughts, let them come and go smoothly. Welcome and do not hate bad thoughts.

Our existing culture has led us to strive and think about what we’re going to do next at all times. It has become very much difficult to stay in the present moment when we’re constantly bombarded with reminders, concerns, expectations, and distractions that fuel anxious thoughts. At this juncture, it can be helpful to turn off notifications, step away from computers, and put gadgets aside. Practicing mindfulness exercises like puzzles or simple mathematical sums may help you stay in the present and feel more in control of the present moment.

Divert your thoughts to another activity

Find the events that trigger difficult, disrupting, annoying and scaring thoughts. Reframe thoughts in positive manner. Recognise uncontrollable portion of thoughts. Eradicate all by diverting your mind to another healthy activity. Pick up your hobbies or sports keep yourself busy in such activities so that the subject thoughts are kept away from your mind. If the intensity is more severe, watch a movie or listen to a motivational audio so that you are energized. When you are back to work, cut back your multi-tasking activities. Postpone your tasks which are not urgent in nature.

Take action to address the thoughts

1. Meditate

The more you meditate the less you hesitate. Your regular practice of meditation will make your thinking process refined. You no longer fear when you meditate and therefore you have better emotional stability. The meditation is a mental break to your mind.

2. Accept and combat your fear with action

You will see the fear is not as bad as you you think it is. I was afraid of playing guitar but as I stared playing each piece of music in fragmented manner and later on connecting them in a single piece, my fear of playing eloped totally. You can not learn swimming by reading or watching a standard video on topic. You dare to jump first and take little risk.

3. Temporarily forget your goals

You are definitely going to achieve your goal but focus on action because the only action is going to make you reach to your desired outcome. So momentarily remove your idea from the mind what you are going to accomplish and just go for action. So delay your instant gratification and concentrate on action part.

4. Do not try to conquer world in a day

Go slow for your action and conquer step by step and avoid multi-tasking. I remember a disciple who was handed over a torch and given a task by his master to collect some books from nearest village in the dark evening. Disciple said to his master, “ Sir, how can I cover long distance in darkness when this torch is able to throw light for few yards only. The master explained to walk few yards up to which the torch threw light. And in this process he walked for a couple of miles and accomplished the task.

5. Success is reached through the path of failure.

Failure is stepping stone. More the failure more the stepping stones. Somebody asked Thomas Alva Edison, “ You failed 9999 times and ultimately invented bulb!”. Edison said, “ I have not failed but found 9999 ways by which bulb can not be invented!” Failures shape you in a vital way. It depends on you how you pursue.

Take Away

1. Your interpretation of thoughts is your reality.

2. Be captain of thought and never allow your thought to be your captain.

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