These days it seems there is so much to worry about. The media is replete with news of political frustrations, civil unrest and the global pandemic. Financially, there are concerns about inflation, taxes and deficits.
Life, with all its trials and uncertainty, provides ample opportunities to worry. If we aren’t careful, we could be consumed with worry – crowding out the ability for us to experience happiness.
Telling someone “don’t worry” is not realistic. There are things we should worry about. A healthy amount of worry can influence us to plan better and take action to obtain better results. But there must be a balance. Worry and happiness are mutually exclusive. There is definitely a time to worry, but we need to make sure we make time and opportunity for happiness.
Power of Laughter
Young children are often the greatest examples of happiness; we can learn a lot from them. They are quick to forgive and they laugh - a lot. Studies show that the average four-year-old laughs 300 times per day. Any guess how many times the average forty-year-old laughs in a day? Only four times1.
Laughter causes our brains to release dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins. These hormones not only make us feel good, but they create emotional bonds with others. In a world of worry and disunity, it sounds like this is a fantastic remedy. Good-natured and appropriate humor is uplifting and unifying.
Last week our daughter Milena (8) wanted to go to Walmart and spend some of her money. She likes to go to the under $3 toy rack and browse. After picking up the usual trinkets that will all end up in the recycle bin by next year, we passed the board games. She insisted that I get a new game for the family, with my money. I had to admit, we had not played a board game in a while and let her pick one out.
Milena is very persistent and had been on us all week to play. The four of us sat down over the weekend to play one round of “Headbanz” and ended up playing four. The house quickly filled with laughter and Liz got on a roll winning the most games. It is amazing how long the feeling of happiness lasted after the game was over.
Not Funny? Don’t Worry
You don’t have to be “funny” in order to benefit from laughter and levity. You can surround yourself and enjoy those that have a good sense of humor.
Even something as simple as smiling at someone or complimenting another can release neurotransmitters that elicit positive, unifying feelings. This may not be easy to do in a world filled with worry. But it will certainly be worth it – both for you and the recipient of your goodness.
- Aaker, Jennifer & Bagdonas, Naomil. Humor, Seriously. Page 25. Random House, 2021
Jason McGarraugh, MS, CFP®
©2021 The Behavioral Finance Network