The United States Declaration of Independence tells us that we have an unalienable right to “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” France has a three-part motto – “liberty, equality and fraternity.” Canada has “peace, order and good government.” Interestingly enough, “Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” is found the 1947 Japanese Constitution and the 1945 Democratic Republic of Vietnam’s Declaration of Independence
How happy are you? Is happiness generated internally or externally? I believe most people view happiness by what happens to them. I found a study done by the University of California-Riverside that stated laughter is characteristic of a happy person. It also said that happy people generally have higher incomes and a better quality of work. They have more friends and their marriages last longer. They have more energy, less pain and stress and live longer lives.
So, does high income equal happiness – NO. Does a better quality of work mean you are automatically happy – NO. If you have a long-lasting marriage and have lots of friends, are you happy – NO. If you don’t hurt, have lower than normal stress and have entered old age, are you also happy – NO. The results of happiness can be shown to produce certain results, but these external results don’t automatically make you happy.
Without getting into the spiritual and philosophical aspects of happiness, I thought I would take one small aspect of happiness and expand on it for a few seconds. When I’m happy, I usually smile, feel good and sometimes laugh. Happiness and laughter appear to coincide with very positive results. I did a quick thesaurus check on both words and did not find one word being synonymous for the other. Can you laugh and not be happy? I don’t think so. I think laughter gives a momentary feeling of happiness to most of us.
Kids laugh 300 times a day, but adults laugh about 15 times a day. Laughter is beneficial in many ways. It relieves tension and stress. It eases anxiety and anger. It lessens grief and depression. A good belly laugh gives us a good sense of well-being. I’ve heard that a sense of humor is analogous to shock absorbers on a car – it allows us to dampen the bumps and dips of life.
Laughter boosts your immune system by releasing endorphins. There is a physiological response. That good belly laugh I mentioned a moment ago actually massages your internal organs also. Scientists have shown that laughter engages both sides of our brains at the same time. Humor has been equated with productivity. Humor can make us a better communicator. Humor brings balance to our lives. Laughter is a coping mechanism that helps us get through adversity, which is why laughter therapy works so well.
So, a key to happiness can be laughter. The results are beneficial and similar to the University of California-Riverside study. Laughter is cheap and is something that almost everyone one of us can do. When was the last time you laughed out loud? I smile a lot, but I don’t necessarily laugh out loud. But, when I do, everyone around me knows about it.
I believe happiness is internally generated. Laughter is an internal decision. Laughter is one of many sources of happiness – and one you can easily do daily. There aren’t many comedy television shows that I watch. Actually, I watch very little television. However, NBC produced a television show last year called, Better Late Than Never’ staring Henry Winkler, William Shatner, Terry Bradshaw and George Foreman.
It’s not your typical comedy, but I haven’t laughed this hard in years. I think it was probably the Pink Panther movies in which I laughed more. That was a long, long time ago and maybe in a galaxy far, far away. My daughter extracted last year’s show On Demand and we have been catching up on last season along with the current season.
Laugh! Feel Better! Enjoy Life! It is really up to you to how happy you can be. It’s not what’s happening to you, but how you accept it. Sometimes, you just have to laugh – out loud!