Laughter

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This is one of my favourite pictures because it captures such a genuine moment of shared laughter and joy.  It’s my son when he was about 9 months old, and we had stopped to get gas while on a road trip.

 “Laughter is an instant vacation.”

Milton Berle

Hurrah… It’s Friday!  Do you have any plans?  We’ve had a busy week around here, and I think we’re just going to relax after supper, and watch some comedies.

This has got me thinking that it would be fun to head into the weekend with a focus on laughter.  So today, I’ll share some ideas, links, quotes, and yes… even jokes from around the web.

“I try to find a reason to laugh each day.  Somehow, if you can incorporate laughter into your day, every day, it really helps.  It’s the little things in life that make me happy. “

Faith Hill

I love to laugh… and who doesn’t, really?  Scientists have even observed that some other animal species engage in laughter, too.  Did you know that?  I didn’t, until I researched laughter for this post.  I guess it proves that everyone loves to laugh.  And why shouldn’t we?  I can’t speak for the other species, but I do know that laughing is a wonderful way to enrich our human life.  

Laughing relaxes us, and helps us regain perpective. It is like nature’s reset button.

In fact, there have been a few difficult times in my life when the laughter reset button has helped me… in my sleep!  I call them my laughing dreams.  I’ve only had a few, but they are surprisingly therapeutic.  In these dreams, some little thing will trigger my laughter.  It’s usually something that isn’t really that funny, but in the dream, it seems absolutely hilarious.  I laugh until my stomach muscles ache and tears are rolling down my cheeks.  Isn’t that a delightful dream?  Has anyone else ever had these?  I wake up with a fresher perspective, feeling relaxed, as if I’d just had one of the best belly laughs ever.

 “Laughter is important, not only because it makes us happy, it also has actual health benefits.  And that’s because laughter completely engages the body and releases the mind.  It connects us to others, and that in itself has a healing effect.”

Marlo Thomas 

Laughter is a way to connect with people we love, and a way to gel new friendships.

Laughter can also help us to defuse conflict and soften awkward situations.  Like the time someone at work ripped his pants (loudly).  As the leader of the group, my immediate reaction was to laugh kindly, smile at him and the group, and say, “These things happen… Good thing you’re among friends.”  Silence would have made the incident far more awkward, while laughter was able to soften the embarrassment.  The laughter became a source of support, recognizing that these things can happen to any of us.

“I believe in the power of laughter and tears as an antidote to hatred and terror.”

Charles Chaplin 

Here are some links about laughter.  Why not relax over a glass of wine or a hot cup of coffee, and check some of these out:  

Have you heard of this documentary?  I am curious to see it.

The Power of Laughter.  He gets a standing ovation at the end of this Ted Talk.  

Can you detect the different kinds of laughter? The very funny cognitive neuroscientist Sophie Scott shares many surprising facts about laughter.

This man helps people who are in rehab heal by getting them hooked on laughter.

A CNN news clip about  Laughter Yoga.

Want to try laughter yoga? Try this.   Warning: it looks silly. Very.  But I have to tell you this quick story!  The other day, my son was really grumpy about something.  I had just watched this video, so I said, “Hey, maybe we can try laughing yoga to improve your mood!”  I started to do one of the exercises.  He thought I was crazy and refused to participate, but the whole situation was so ridiculous, that soon laughter was bubbling out of him, as hard as he tried to keep a sullen expression on his face.  Within two minutes, his mood had completely changed and we were talking about our day.  So… maybe laughter yoga does work!

Four jokes and some reflection on humour.

Here are “50 terrible, quick jokes that’ll get you a laugh on demand“.  I have to admit, I haven’t read them all!  But I have included a sampler of the jokes, below, because 6 of these jokes are probably quite enough:  😉 

6 JOKES…

1) It’s hard to explain puns to kleptomaniacs because they always take things literally.

2) If you want to catch a squirrel just climb a tree and act like a nut.

3) Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like banana.

4) My friend recently got crushed by a pile of books, but he’s only got his shelf to blame.

5) What’s the best part about living in Switzerland? Not sure, but the flag is a big plus.

6) What did Jay-Z call his girlfriend before they got married? Feyoncé.

Thanks for stopping by home hurrah.com.  Have a great weekend!  

I just got one last thing, I urge all of you, all of you, to enjoy your life, the precious moments you have.  To spend each day with some laughter and some thought, to get you’re emotions going.

Jim Valvano

Saying Thank You.

The photograph was used with permission (and gratitude!) from Alicia and Neil’s Photography.  

 

"Make it a habit to tell people thank you, to express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return.  Truly appreciate those around you, and you'll soon find many others around you.  Truly appreciate life, and you'll find that you have more of it."

~ Ralph Marston
"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it."       

~William Arthur Ward
"Saying "thank you" creates love."

~ Daphne Rose Kingma
"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."

~ G.K. Chesterton

Gratitude is a wonderful frame of mind from which to view our life.  Research shows that people who take the time to write down the things for which they are grateful actually increase their happiness.  Gratitude creates an optimistic mindset and helps us make more positive choices.

But what about thanking and giving praise to those around us?  Is that important? It sounds so easy, but sometimes it can be difficult.  Some people find praise and gratitude very hard to express.  Others find it easy to give, but feel uncomfortable accepting it.

Today, I wanted to share a Ted Talk by Laura Trice. It is only three minutes long; a quick, thought-provoking glimpse into this subject.  She believes that learning to give and ask for genuine praise creates happier lives and households, and that it might very well be where the seed for a better world is planted.

I invite you to listen to this 3 minute (and 24 second) video. I would love to hear your take on this topic, so please feel free to leave a comment.  How important is it to express gratitude?  Is gratitude still valid if we have to prompt it?

Wait… before I go, Thanks for visiting, I truly appreciate you stopping by!  🙂

 

Travel, Moving, and Finding Meaning: a TED Talk by Pico Iyer

The Age of Movement

Image used with permission: http://www.aliciaandneilphotography.com/

Click on the link at the bottom of the post to listen to today’s TED Talk:

“More and more people worldwide are living in countries not considered their own. Writer Pico Iyer — who himself has three or four “origins” — meditates on the meaning of home, the joy of traveling and the serenity of standing still.”

Changing our surroundings is a way of waking ourselves up.  The longing to travel is often fuelled by the desire to see the world and our lives through different eyes, and to change our perspectives.

Even more profound is the experience of moving.  If you have ever moved, you know how deeply it can affect your view and understanding of the world, and of yourself.  A small move within the same city can affect you, never mind a change of country or province.

In his TED Talk, Pico Iyers considers how living in the “Age of Movement” is transforming us, and suggests that “stillness” is the best way to find what travel and moving can teach us.

Finding Stillness and Meaning

At about the 9th minute of his TED Talk, Pico shares an experience he had in a retreat at a hermitage.

He talks about “retreat” and silence not as a lack of noise, but as the presence of peace: an experience that helps us to rediscover who we are, and make meaning of all the movement in our lives.

His description makes me long for that kind of stillness and solitude – and maybe some day I will spend a few days at a hermitage on a beautiful mountain!  In the meantime, though, scheduling that kind of retreat is pretty hard for most of us.  It got me thinking: is there a way to create  intentional “retreat”  in our regular lives, at home? 

Rebooting:  Retreat in Our Regular Lives

In his Talk, Pico encourages us to find simple ways of intentionally incorporating “retreat” into our “every-day” lives.  While this probably means something different for each of us, here are some suggestions of ways to build more “retreat” into our lives:

Yoga. For several years, I used to practice yoga and meditation.  The focused breathing on the pose is one thing that approaches the experience Pico describes.  I find it hard to make the time to do this lately, but perhaps I need to start again.

Meditation.  Even if you don’t have time to do yoga, a couple of minutes of regular meditation can bring much needed stillness into our lives.  I will provide an in depth post on this interesting topic soon. There are also many books on the subject. For beginners, the key is to focus on the breath for a minute or two.  Just breathe easy, and if your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the breath.

Walking.  Walking has benefits similar to a retreat.   When you are mindful of nature surrounding you – yes, even urban outdoor settings are part of nature –  you heighten the benefits.  If you can occasionally include an outing to a park or out of town,  all the better! Yesterday, my mom and I drove out of town, and took a  brisk one hour hike in the cold (- 27c), sunny day.  When I was done, I felt like a new person.  To sum up: a good hike is amazing!

Nature.  Related to the point above is the simple act of connecting with nature.  Whether you can go to a park at lunch break, work on your garden, bike ride around your neighbourhood, sit in your back yard, or go on a camping trip, being outside and interacting with nature reconnects you and is a type of “retreat”. In our first six years of marriage, my husband and I lived in an apartment on the 10th floor. In the summer, spring, and fall, we would sit out there watching the birds and world go by. It was wonderful to watch the distant trees sprout buds, turn green, and eventually orange, all from up above.

These kind of activities may not be the same as going on a solitary retreat, where you can walk and think and meditate for three days straight without the interruptions of daily life.  However, they are activities that are accessible, inexpensive, and can help us reconnect with ourselves on a regular basis.

Do you have ideas on how to find stillness and peace in your life?  Have you ever gone an a retreat?  What was the experience like?

Click below:

Philippe Petite and an Inspirational TED Talk.

“I had to make a decision to shift my weight from the foot anchored to the building to the foot anchored on the wire.”

The quote above is from a film I watched a few years ago, called “Man on Wire.” It is a documentary that shares the story of the incredibly talented Philippe Petit, and his breath-taking tight-rope walk across the Twin Towers. I love the above words because, in some ways, they symbolize what we all do when we take a chance, when we put ourselves out there, when we try something new.  We may not be risking our life, but we still must make a decision to step forward from the safe into the unkown.

I found the documentary fascinating – the true story of a man following with courage his unusual vocation.  Today, I want to share one of my favourite TED talks.  Philippe Petit sums up his creative life in 20 minutes.  It is really worth a listen.  Inspirational and so entertaining!

The above image is by Vlado, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Enjoy!

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 Comfort ~ Inspiration ~ Ideas

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How to Find Your Way Home Through Your Vocation

“Success, Failure, and The Drive To Keep Creating”

– The title of Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk

I want to share the following TED Talk that I heard recently. In it, Elizabeth Gilbert explores a wonderful definition of the word  home; the idea of your vocation as your “home”. She tells how, in the face of both failure and success, she was able to restore herself by dedicating herself to her truest vocation – writing.

A Good Reason to Do What You Love

Some people might not have that  desire to focus on a single vocation.  Still, the wisdom of Elizabeth’s words can be extended to offer this advice:

If we ever feel lost, we can find our way back home through the things and activities that give our lives the most meaning

There have been long periods in my life when I was not doing creative work regularly, for a number of reasons, including being too busy working on my career.  In those times, I would often focus on walking (sometimes running) and connecting with nature, reading, writing in my journal, and focusing on causes about which I feel passionate.  Spending time with family, and getting advice from them, was also a big help. These activities were meaningful to me and helped me to find answers to the questions or challenges I faced. In many ways, those meaningful activities probably brought me back to my creative endeavours.

What activities help you release stress and refocus your energies?

By the way, I have never read Eat, Pray, Love, or any of Gilbert’s work, but I am now adding her to my list of author’s whose work I should check out.

Thanks for visiting homehurrah.com, and I look forward to sharing my next post with you!