Your New Year’s Laughter Resolutions
By Leigh Anne Jasheway
NABBW’s Boomer Humor Expert

If you’ve been reading this column, you know that American women laugh a little more than 25% more than men. This sounds good – especially considering all the positive physical and emotional benefits laughter brings – but since we women also tend to stress out five, seven, or even ten times more often than most men, we’re really not using our senses of humor as well as we can to lighten up and let go of the things that weigh us down.

What better time than the birth of the new year to let go of some terminal seriosity and learn to laugh more often and better?

Here are some laughter resolutions you may want to add to your list of things to do as the new year kicks off. And remember this: laughing burns calories and tightens muscles, so it counts as part of your resolution to lose weight and get more exercise! 😀

In 2011, resolve to:

Double the number of out loud laughs you get every day. This may require that you first understand how often you truly laugh each day. I recommend keeping track for a week – if it’s hard because you laugh so much, good! Unfortunately, since the average rate of laughter is 15 times a day for grown-ups (which means that there are just as many people laughing much less often than more), keeping track won’t be that hard for most.

Make a list of things that turn on your giggles and do one thing on the list every day. The more you understand your sense of humor, the easier it is to use it more. Keep in mind that the majority of things we laugh at each day aren’t meant to be funny; in fact, most aren’t funny at all.

I, for example, never laugh harder or more deeply than at the antics of my dogs. Watching Justin trying to get out from under the covers in the morning or Penny doing her dance of joy after I’ve announced that we’re going for a walk can cause me to double over in laughter.

My list includes:

  • Talking with several of my favorite friends
  • Spending time with my dogs
  • Watching silly YouTube videos featuring pets of any kind
  • Attempting to cook (I’m so bad I always end up laughing at myself)
  • Making up silly songs, and
  • Trying to dance

What’s on your list?

Ask, “What’s funny about this?” the next time something unplanned happens. In a previous column, I talked about pattern and misdirection and how everyone’s life is a series of events not going as planned. When life takes a turn in another direction, you can choose to get irritated, impatient, or irritable bowel syndrome (or any other “I” word of your choosing) or you can choose to ask, “What’s funny about this?”

Simply asking the question reminds you that you have the power to decide how you will view the circumstances that come your way. They say you can either see the glass half full or half empty – I say you can see it as a dribble glass and laugh your way through as many misdirections as possible.

Really laugh out loud every time you type or text “LOL.” A study recently showed what I’ve known all along: people who type the acronym “LOL” (laughing out loud) usually are NOT.

And since typing doesn’t improve your cardiovascular and immune systems, doesn’t boost endorphins or reduce your blood pressure, doesn’t put oxygen back into your brain and reduce anxiety, an easy way to make real change in your life is to really laugh whenever you’re tempted to use “LOL.” Besides, no one wants to be a hypocrite, right?

Make one more friend this year with whom you regularly laugh. Researchers say that among mammals, laughter serves two purposes – to release tension and fear and to help us bond with other members of our “pack.”

It’s that latter that often creates unexpected laughter that comes seemingly from nowhere whenever we’re surrounded by certain people. Unfortunately friends may come and go. And some aren’t the kind who engender lightheartedness (I call these people “life-o-sucters).

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to make one more new funny friend this year. Yes, that may mean you have to bolster up your courage and say those five little words, “Will you be my friend?” But it will be so worth it when you’re snorting chocolate milk out of your noses over lunch.

Leigh Anne Jasheway, M.P.H. is a stress management and humor expert who helps women and men manage stress, embrace change, and become healthier by learning to lighten up. She speaks at 50-60 conferences and workshops every year and has been a national Speaking of Women’s Health and Healthy Woman keynoter. She’s a member of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH). Learn more about her at her website. Leigh Anne’s new book, “Confessions of a Semi-Natural Woman” (a collection of 99 of her funniest humor columns from the past ten’ish years – including the one that won the Erma Bombeck Humor Writing Competition – is now available at www.accidentalcomic.com)