Transforming Your Reality Through Laughter
Updated: Sep 14, 2020
When most people think of laughter, they think of jokes, comedy or funny things that they have seen or done. I have helped to empower thousands of people across the globe to choose to laugh because they can and because the benefits are so incredible.
I see and understand laughter as a powerful, free and natural tool that can help us to transform our realities, and today I want to share with you why and help you to understand how you can use it to revolutionise your world with it.
As we are here Rewiring Wellness and because I am huge on education, I am going to bring in a little neuroscience nerdiness so that you can get a better understanding of why and how this is helping you, plus provide two practical exercises for you to use as much as you like (repetition is key in creating change)!
Brain and habit transformation
Laughter has been proven to help us to create new neural pathways, literally transforming the way our brains function, thereby changing the way we think, behave and feel as a result.
When you step back and look at the way our beliefs influence our thoughts, which influence our emotions, which influence our actions, which influence our results, it's obvious that to create real change, we need to work on changing the pattern. Habit transformation is one of the biggest things I work on with clients, because positive and supportive habits are the key to our success in any area of life. Look at any performer, athlete, business person, awesome parent or anyone who has any level of success - habits and routines play a huge role in their lives and their results.
In neuroscience, there's an old saying: "neurons that fire together wire together", meaning that when we habitually and repetitively practice the same things together over and over (eg. thoughts, behaviours and emotions), we create a stronger and stronger pathway. The first time we do something new, our path is a scratchy, hard-to-follow, difficult to find track through bushes. It may not even feel like a path, but more like stepping stones as we leap from one step to the next in our process. Each time we practice this new habit, thought-loop, task, exercise or behaviour, it becomes easier and easier, and our path becomes easier to find, we remember the details or landmarks along the way, our path gets wider, perhaps gets paved, or becomes a total super-highway.
In terms of unhelpful habits, thoughts and more dense, "negative" emotions and bodily responses, the super-highway can become a nightmare. It can seem hard to resist, and rerouting ourselves can take work. Thankfully, our "work" today is going to be play, which makes it fun and easy.
Another little saying in neuroscience, that goes hand in hand with the firing together & wiring together is that "neurons that fire out of sync lose their link". This is a BIG clue as to how we can hack the system, and just one place where laughter can come in and help us to create magic for ourselves. Biochemical shifts
Laughter reduces stress hormones like cortisol while releasing a healthy DOSE of "feel-good hormones" - Dopamine, Oxytocin, Seratonin and Endorphins. What does this mean for you while (and after) you're laughing? It means: - relief from stress and anxiety - an increased sense of calm, peace and relaxation - a higher pain threshold (and relief from some pains)
- an improved sense of connection (when done with others)
- a reduction in feelings of isolation and depression You can't be stressed (or angry or sad) if you laugh for an extended period of time, because the feel-good hormones kick in and take over, working their magic on your system.
Before we get into anything, I want to reiterate that:
We are choosing to laugh (for the benefits); we are not laughing at or about anything, belittling ourselves or anyone else or making anything wrong, silly or stupid. If you find light-hearted humour in something along the way, so be it; but for now, we're only choosing to laugh. We are just choosing to laugh. We are simply choosing to laugh.
Exercise: Shifting unpleasant emotions through laughter.
This is one of my FAVOURITE things to do with laughter, because the effects are so immediately noticable, and then, over time, absolutely profound.
We are looking to create a new pattern here and to diffuse the intense unpleasant emotions and thoughts, it's not about making fun of yourself or the situation, it's certainly not about avoiding things or pushing thoughts and emotions down; it's about allowing them to move through you as you build this new relationship. Sometimes it only takes one session to create that new association.
Step 1. Bring to mind something that upsets you, stresses you or worries you - aim to work with something that is about a 6/10 on the scale. If you practice this frequently, you can up the intensity of the unpleasant emotion and work on shifting things that seem VERY stressful, upsetting or worrying. For now, start at 6/10.
Step 2. Set an intention to shift this energy and build a new relationship with it.
Step 3. Close your eyes and experience that situation or thing - really feel it, see it happening and allow the thoughts that come with it to enter your mind.
Step 4. Keeping yourself immersed in that experience, open your eyes and act it out while choosing to laugh. You can act it out over and over again as you laugh (remember that repetition is going to help to build a new highway), and if you can bring the stressful/upsetting/worrying thoughts in as you laugh too - allow their path/road/highway to be jack-hammered by the laughter.
At first, laughter will not come easily, as you will have stress hormones and heavy thoughts dominating your energy, body and mind. It will take a while for laughter to
- get you producing the feel-good cocktail of chemicals - endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin
- reduce cortisol and stress hormones
- find it's way on this new "path", as it's likely you have never laughed while thinking those thoughts or feeling those feelings.
If you keep laughing, you will feel the shift. You don't have to be laughing uproariously for this to work, if you can just manage a giggle at first, that's OK What will happen after a while is that laughter will take over, either because the feel-good chemicals have won, or because you find something suddenly and genuinely funny - your own laugh, the practice itself, the entire situation etc. Once this happens, you will know you've created a new path.
Manifesting new results
We can use this same knowledge to shift our understanding and beliefs about what's possible for us, and zoom (with more ease, speed and giggles) towards our goals too. Much like the exercise above, we want to immerse ourselves in the energy, emotions, thoughts and details of what we are imagining. Our mind doesn't know the difference between what's vividly imagined (and experienced), and what's actual reality. If we can "live" the life we want to live led by our imagination, we can do it much more easily in real life too, because we are training our mind to believe that, to build pathways for that and most importantly, to drop it's defensiveness and resistance to creating that change.