Our common reaction to challenges, whether big or small, seems to range from intense worry through to overwhelming anxiety and stress. Granted, this is natural and understandable when faced with problems or issues. But there are other ways of dealing with pressure and some believe it’s to laugh it off. It may seem ridiculous but there are even schools around the world devoted to the act of laughing.

Learning to laugh at life has been known to have numerous positive effects. Laughter benefits mind, body and spirit. It’s a great release of energy, especially if we are pent up with anger, fear, stress or sadness. It provides an outlet for these negative feelings by transforming them into something positive.

When we think of our challenges in life, we feel a sense of despair and hopelessness, and sometimes things can be so bad people say that if they don’t laugh, they’ll cry. We all know people who happen to be going through a really rough patch and seem to be able to shrug it off as best they can by laughing about it or cracking jokes. A lot of us may view this as denial, but who are we to judge? In this case, maybe the opposite is in fact true. Perhaps the people who laugh in the face of their challenges realise a truth we’ve failed to remember: that all things in life are transient, they come, they go and we move on. All things eventually do pass, even the difficult things.

Laughter can help us shift perspective and change our thoughts about situations we are confronted with. When challenges seem like nothing but uphill battles and we seem to be taking one step forward, two steps backward, and things turn from bad to worse, it might sound silly to laugh, yet how can it hurt? Advocates of laughter therapy see it as a way of regaining control. Instead of carrying the burden released on us by our challenges, we are able to cast off the dead weight and stand undefeated. When you are at the bottom, the only way is up.

We take so much seriously in life, from the little things to the big things, including ourselves. We spend the majority of our time thinking, planning and working; a little light-heartedness wouldn’t go astray. If we learn to laugh about our shortcomings, our failures, our weaknesses and our faux pas, then may be the world would be less tense and more relaxed. Everyone knows how a good hearty laugh feels; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, it shakes you with a new kind of energy pulsing through your system. You feel giddy, light-headed and tears stream down your face. Imagine a world where everyone laughed on a daily basis; it would eradicate a lot of our superficial issues we have with each other and our complaints would be down to a significant minimum.

So how do we get more laughter, therefore more joy, into our lives? It’s as easy as choosing to spend time doing things that make you laugh; switch to watching comedies or reading humorous books, talk and laugh with friends and adopt a new light-hearted approach to life.

Developing a new outlook does not mean that the challenges you have will immediately disappear. It doesn’t take away the seriousness or immensity of situations we find ourselves facing. We can’t always change what exists outside of ourselves but we can change ourselves from within. We can learn to change how we react and deal with issues. Laughing at ourselves might not change everything but it can’t hurt; in the end, what have you got to lose?

We all know by now that our thoughts inform our actions and therefore influence our experience. Next time we are confronted by life’s challenges perhaps we’ll remember not to take ourselves too seriously; to place things in perspective and work towards eliminating the stress and heartache we subconsciously add to the situation. Laugh, say c’est la vie to your problems and move on.