A recent study found that people who laugh (or even smile) frequently are less stressed in the face of anxiety-inducing events, and even show fewer physical and emotional stress symptoms than those who laugh less often. Researchers are finding that laughter can act as a buffer for feelings of stress and overwhelm — and in particularly challenging times, leaning into moments of levity, joy, and silliness can boost our mental health and help us deal with feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.
We asked our Thrive community to share one thing that’s making them laugh during this challenging time. Which of these is bringing a smile to your face right now?
Saturday night comedies
“What’s making me laugh right now is watching comedies with my fiancé. I’m not a big movie person, so seeing these films — a recent favorite was There’s Something About Mary — is a new experience for me. And since I am relatively newly engaged, sitting on the couch with my future husband and eating popcorn on a Saturday night brings me so much joy during this time.”
—Jennefer Witter, CEO, speaker, and author, New York, NY
“Seeing my two dogs play together makes me laugh. I have a chocolate lab and recently reunited him with his former kennel mate from when they were both first rescued. Seeing these two goofy dogs get so excited for a tug toy or simply chase each other around the house never fails to make me laugh. It’s just pure joy! Then add in our weekly game of fetch in my dad’s swimming pool each Sunday and the laughter really gets going. I’ll play fetch for hours just to watch them jump in the water and swim for the ball.”
—Channing Muller, PR and marketing consultant, Chattanooga, TN
Funny YouTube clips
“Every morning, I search out old cartoons or YouTube videos that are funny, and I share them with my friends on Facebook and Twitter to offset all the gloom and doom that’s being posted. Someone has to focus on the funny!”
—Georgina Cannon, instructor at University of Toronto, therapist and couples counselor, Toronto, Canada
“I’ve been walking my dog in my neighborhood for three years, but this summer, everyone on the block has finally started to chat with each other. This may not seem odd to some people, but I live in Finland, a country notoriously famous for avoiding small talk. These daily encounters have really put a positive spin on my everyday. I recently read an article about weak-tie relationships and how these casual acquaintances can boost happiness and a sense of belonging. The research doesn’t lie.”
—Shelly Nyqvist, travel coach, Helsinki, Finland
Zoom games with family
“My grandsons are making me laugh as I engage with them in new ways over Zoom. Using a PowerPoint and sharing my screen with them, I put up silly pictures of Grammie and Grandpa, and all of us together. I also include great images of their superheroes and we find ourselves laughing as we try to create a story together — Grammie and Grandpa, them, and Batman. Laughter with people that we love is truly the best medicine.”
—Diane Gillespie, emerita professor, Seattle, WA
Nostalgic stuffed animals
“One of the quirks about me is that I keep a little stuffed monkey around, pretty much all the time. Curious George makes me smile. He’s just a funny little guy who reminds me to stay curious. When you live in curiosity and wonder, you stay out of judgement. Living in a space of curiosity dampens the drama and allows compassion. Curious George helps keep me smiling by grounding me firmly in wonder and joy!”
—Dr. Wayne Pernell, executive leadership coach, San Francisco, CA
Texts from long-distance friends
“I was just smiling at a text from a friend who is sitting miles away and thinking of me. I think these long lost connections have made me a little happier during the pandemic. There have been multiple instances where a text, call, or photo pops up on my phone from someone who was once very close to me. I can’t help but smile and reminisce about the time I’ve spent with them, and how joyful it feels to reconnect.”
—Aakriti Agarwal, coach and facilitator, Hyderabad, India
Time with family
“What’s bringing me joy right now is my daughter’s positive energy and curiosity, and my wife’s love and willingness to share a common vision with me. The mere thought of the time I spend with them makes me smile and fills me with the best kind of joy. This is the fuel that keeps me going, no matter what life throws at me.”
—Francesco Onorato, business development, Phoenix, AZ
Is there something in particular that’s making you laugh or smile during this time? Share it with us in the comments.
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