Sasha* one of my Stand-Up comedy students had come along to the class under duress.
She could not see the point of it.
Why bother when her job, her family and her life in general seemed to be just constantly dragging her down. She felt like she was made of lead and did not feel like trying to make either herself or others laugh.
During the class time, though, something started to shift. As everyone in turn delivered the work they’d been preparing the laughter in the room grew and grew.
When it was Sasha’s turn she just had an all-round gripe at an incident that day with her husband. She really put some feeling into it and her authentic grumpiness and way with words got the entire group laughing.
She felt different. She hadn’t changed anything, not her demeanour, her grumpy mood or her irritation. However the mood and the context of the class had allowed her to not take herself so seriously. Everyone else had taken a part of their life and made it a comedy bit, and now she’d done the same and some sort of alchemical exchange had happened, she was looking at the situation quite differently now and felt herself literally lighten up.
When the world seems to be falling down around you, or even those days when life just seems dull and pointless, the getting of joy can seem to be not only remote, but also not really worth the effort.
Even using the term ‘joy’ often doesn’t help. It seems to conjure an ephemeral, uncatchable smoke-like substance. Joy and happiness can seem to be more like birds that alight on your shoulder and then take off again, totally at whim, with you having no control at all.
The great news is, that is a total fallacy. You can change how you look at things by training your mind to see the world from a particular angle. People who are constantly negative are often people who have just got used to seeing the world in that way – it’s a habit.
When you change the perspective, the angle, then the effect of the world on you changes, and that’s when the magic happens – because when you change your behaviour towards the world it all of a sudden starts to respond differently to you.
It sounds woo woo, but it’s actually plain old neuroscience.
There are some really good reasons why you should cultivate the skills and habits that will bring joy into your life on a regular basis.
According to the Mayo Clinic in the USA a joyful, positive and humorous mindset:
1. Reduces blood pressure,
2. Increases coping skills – especially in times of hardship and stress
3. Heightens psychological and physical well-being
4. Lowers rates of depression and distress
5. Increases the effectiveness of our immune system
6. Reduces the risk of death from cardiovascular disease (damn good reason to get happy!)
Now that we know this for sure, this changes things. Joy and positivity are no longer a nice ‘extra’ to life; they are now a necessity for our mental, physical and emotional health.
In the next few weeks I’ll send you a series of short articles where we’ll discover practical and actionable ways of bringing more joy and happiness into your life.
In the meantime, remember, you are unique – just like everyone else!
Keep on shining
*name changed to protect the (previously) grumpy