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Enhance your family connections by adding the joy of laughter

Enhance your family connections by adding the joy of laughter

Do you find yourself taking life too seriously? Does this affect your ability to be present and have fun with your children or partner? In this fast-paced world, it is important for us to find a way to slow down, laugh and lighten the load. Laughter facilitates family connection and perspective.


Do recognize the importance of laughter

Laughter activates the entire brain and affects the entire body in a positive way. It reduces blood pressure, stimulates endorphins, creates a state of relaxation and even has a positive impact on the immune system. Laughter feels good--and is good for you. So it is critical to find ways to increase this element of our life. Sadly, the number of times we laugh drastically decreases from when we were a child to our life as a grown up. A great deal of this decrease in laughter comes from an increase in stress and responsibility, as well as a change in perspective.

Do choose to laugh

There are many moments in life that are not life threatening, but are laugh threatening. They threaten to steal our joy from a perfectly good day, such as a flat tire, red light, grumpy customer or hormonal teenager. These are all opportunities to choose to look at a situation in a positive light and laugh, rather than a negative.

The flat tire could have been two flats--or even four. Or it could even have been an accident. The red light could have prevented you from being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Meeting the grumpy customer with compassion, rather than frustration, might be the key. And for that hormonal teenager, just remember how great it is to have him or her around. Laugh about how it must feel to have your moods so affected by hormones and social surroundings. Remember that being a teenager can be tough.

Of course, there are times to cry, but more often than not, you can choose to laugh at the many mini-stressful moments that threaten to steal those laughs. Do not forget to take back the laughter.

Do increase your laughter toolkit

Do you know someone who always makes you smile and laugh? Try to spend more time with this person. Do you watch a television show that cracks you up? Record it, watch it and make it a point to incorporate it into your life. What are the other things that make you laugh? Tickling? Playing chase with your little boy or girl? A favorite movie? Blowing bubbles in your drink? All of these ways of playing as children are typically forgotten as adults. We say that we don’t have time to play, but the truth is that play is in your perspective. Look for things to laugh about and that automatically generate laughter in your life. Then share them with your partner, child, friend or family member.

Do share the laughter

Laughter is contagious and connects people in a unique way. Couples and families can benefit from laughing together. Laughter can help defuse an argument and heal hurt feelings if people can remain open to these moments.

If one half of a partnership can stay focused on the funny and the good--and help the other person to see that the situation is not so dire--they can laugh about it together and usually work together to fix the problem, rather than dwell on the problem. Thanks to laughter activating the entire brain, it often helps people think outside of the box and focus in the present moment to enjoy one another.


Do not fight the urge to laugh

Oftentimes, if a family member makes an effort to make us laugh when we are upset or frustrated, we might begin to laugh, but we think ourselves out of it. We literally think ourselves out of laughing about something. But wouldn’t it be more fun to just laugh instead? Laughing does not have to indicate that your feelings are not hurt or that what is wrong is not important. However, it can indicate that you recognize that we are all human, and that we can work together to fix whatever is wrong.

Do not be funny at the expense of others

Laughter is best when it is about things or situations, or about the human-ness of us all, not when it is directed at someone else. This should be something all adults know, but we can forget to check in with someone to make sure that they are okay before we laugh along with them. If you are unsure about something, it is better to be considerate first--and then have a good chuckle together.

Do not forget to add non-sexual touch to the laugh

Touch, gentle non-sexual touch, a pat on the back or a touch of the arm can go a long way towards telling your child, partner, friend or family member that you are laughing with them and the situation--not at them. This kind of touch can tell someone, “We are in this together, and let’s just laugh about it, and then we can fix it.”

Jumping cartoon

Laughter is extremely important to our overall health and well-being. Not only is it beneficial for our individual well-being, but also for our relationships as well. Laughter facilitates creativity and connection--two elements that foster happy relationships all around. Go ahead and look for reasons to laugh. There are far more than we give the world credit for.

More expert advice about Being a Better Parent

Photo Credits: © Eugenio Marongiu -; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas -

Lisa Tyndall, PhD, LMFTClinical Faculty Member

Lisa Tyndall, PhD is a Clinical Faculty member in the department of Child Development and Family Relations at East Carolina University and the Clinic Director of the ECU Family Therapy Clinic. Her speciality areas are Family Therapy and Medical ...

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