April Fools! Many of us have been a part of this tradition for our entire lives, whether playing pranks of our own or being on the receiving end of a joke.
There are a number of theories on the origins of this holiday. Some say that its origins relate to the shift to the Gregorian Calendar (New Years changing from April 1st to January 1st), with those continuing to celebrate on April 1st being “fools.” Others say that it relates to the change in seasons and the silliness brought out during “spring fever.” There may be many theories on its origins, but one thing is clear – it is a tradition that evokes laughter and connection. This time of year has brought my mind to the importance of humor in creating joy in our lives.
Laughter brings us together. Laughter gives us a sense that we are not alone. Sharing humor with others is one of the most unifying feelings we can experience. And not only that; research has shown a connection between laughter, health, and happiness. Some benefits of laughter include: relaxing the body, relieving physical tension, and boosting the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies. Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins, which promotes a sense of well being and temporary relief from pain.
In my life, I am mindful of the humor that can be found in many aspects of the human condition. I make it a point to spend time laughing as much as I can on a daily basis. Growing research tells us that our facial expressions can actually shift our emotions, hence more evidence for us to keep watching stand-up comics, silly dog videos, and funny shows. Keep playing and sharing humor with others! Through play and laughter, we let go, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, and we experience the power of connection.
“If there’s a feeling you have, other people have it. If there’s something weird about your life, other people have lived it. If there’s something kooky about your body, other people have that, too. We’re not alone. There’s some kind of tremendous relief in that and I think it can only be expressed in belly laughter. This tremendous relief that happens the millisecond we realize, it’s not just me. That’s what good laughter is about. It’s about knowing that you’re not alone.” – Brene Brown