We forget how powerful laughter can be to lift our mood, diffuse a situation, or to heal a hurt. Have you ever noticed how your first interaction in the morning sets up your attitude for the day? If you are faced with a problem or conflict first thing, you can feel tension setting in; but when something makes you laugh, you can feel your mood lighten. I know that if I start the day in a bad mood as soon as I walk into my classroom my students will begin to make me laugh and I will forget any problem that I walked in with.

Laughter can do more than lift a mood. It can diffuse problems. One of my jobs as an educator is to recognize and calm emotions before they become bigger and out of control. One of the ways to do this is to find something to laugh about. Laughter has a calming effect.

Laughter can be soothing and reassuring. Notice how you react when you hear a child laugh or you hear a friend or family member laugh. We often have to react when we hear someone who has a resounding joyful laugh.

When we are transparent about our struggles it is easy to laugh at ourselves. We should give ourselves some grace and laugh at the awkward moments and then others will relax more and learn to laugh more often as well.

Laughter makes you feel as if you have been welcomed in when you are in a group and someone laughs with you about an experience that you shared.

Of course, laughter can be harmful when it is mean-spirited. Remember that you always have the power to react in the way you choose. I choose to feel sorry for the person who feels the need to act that way in an attempt to feel superior.

You can find reasons to laugh if you slow down enough to take in what is going on around you. I had someone tell me that I was making myself so busy that I wasn’t observing the important things around me, and that’s so true. Here are a few things that are guaranteed to make you laugh.

Your animals

My cat is a lover of food and has become so large that he has to shimmy through the cat door to get down to his food in the basement. The one time that he was stuck (only for a minute) was very funny to us. Our animals do all sorts of amusing things every day. We only need to take the time to notice.

Funny animal videos

Sometimes other people’s animals can make us laugh even harder. Go to YouTube and type in funny animal videos and you will be entertained for as long as you have time to watch. My favorite is a video with a group of penguins and as one walks by, another hits him with his flipper into the water.

Your family

Whether you are laughing at something crazy your family has done or something hysterical and unexpected that someone said, family is always good material for laughter.

Comedians

Find your favorite comedian and watch him or her when you need a mood change.

The funny loved one

Everyone should have one person in their life who can make you laugh uncontrollably. My daughter is that person and I have the same effect on her. We start laughing and we cannot stop. Funny moments always seem to present themselves to us and then we are lost.

Laughter is the best medicine I know. It is free, easy to use, and has no harmful side effects. It can make someone feel better when they are sad, it can change our moods and I truly believe that laughing regularly keeps us healthy. You have nothing to lose by inviting more laughter into your life.

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Jennifer Bonn is a freelance writer and Kennesaw resident. She has been published in several magazines, and has published a book titled “Stay Away from the Girl’s Bathroom, A Teacher’s Guide.” It is available from Deeds Publishing at www.deedspublishing.com.

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