The Secret of Success When You’re Buried Under Stress
There’s an old Japanese proverb that sums up success in just 6 words.
Fall seven times, stand up eight.
If you already want to press on, that’s inspiring. But what if you don’t? What if the thought of standing up one more time and getting your face smashed by a boxing glove backed with 1,000 pounds of force is just too much to bear?
Then you need something more powerful to motivate you.
It’s not something you don’t have access to right now. You can summon it whenever you please. And when you do, it can literally change your life.
What is this powerful secret?
Yes, that’s right. You read what you thought you did. A simple chuckle or better yet, a straight to the bones belly laugh, can do you a world of good.
But How Can I Laugh When Things Are So Bad?
People are more stressed-out than ever right now.
We’ve got plenty to worry about in 2020. Coronavirus. Racism. Rioting. Police corruption. Politics. Social distancing. Death.
I’m sure you can add something to that list.
And then there are the everyday stressors. You’re stuck in a job you hate. Or maybe you don’t have a job at all and finding one has been excruciatingly difficult. You might have had to accept a position that isn’t your ideal to put food on the table.
And if that isn’t bad enough, you can’t see your friends like you used to. Sure, you can talk to them on the phone, on Zoom, or just shoot them a text message. But it’s not the same as seeing them face to face. And you might even be the one who has to initiate every conversation.
Carrying that load will give you a backache, a headache, and a heartache. You can’t do that long-term and you aren’t meant to.
The biggest problem is we don’t think we should laugh. And when we can’t laugh, we stop living. At the very least, we don’t live with the freedom we could have if just reached out and claimed it.
Quit Taking Yourself So Freaking Seriously
The world gives us lots of rules about how we should behave in different situations.
Here are a few:
- Don’t challenge people in authority
- Pull yourself up by your bootstraps
- Don’t burden people with your problems
- Don’t defend yourself even when you’re right
- Don’t make waves and risk offending people
Those rules may not be written anywhere but on our hearts. Well-meaning parents and authority figures make these rules so they can control us. The downside is we never discover who we really are and we live mired in mediocrity.
Laughter is by nature uncontrollable.
Have you ever been sitting in church or a seminar and something out of the blue made you laugh? You try your best to suppress it but you just can’t. In fact, the more you try, the more you want to laugh out loud.
Go ahead. It’s okay. Some of the people around you will laugh, too. The uptight ones will just keep being uptight. But who knows? You might make one of them laugh and set them free from taking themselves so seriously.
You know what else? You’re gonna fail. It’s inevitable. So laugh when it happens. Laugh when you succeed. Laugh because you took the chance and learned something to make your next shot better.
When you do, you’ll have a better life and you might have more success than you ever dreamed you would. Then you’ll discover that…
Laughter Helps You Live Longer
What can laughing do for your body?
- Improves blood flow
- Boosts your immune system
- Give your muscles a workout
- Lowers blood sugar levels
- Helps you sleep better
- Dulls pain and discomfort
- Increases endorphins
- Burns calories
That’s a pretty comprehensive list, isn’t it?
And here’s something even better.
A 20-year study found that people with a positive mindset added 7–8 years to their lives.
Laughter improves the way you see yourself and your life. It takes the stress off your face and your brain. That leaves plenty of room for happiness to fill the void.
If you’ve been putting off going to the gym or going on a diet, you may as well prime yourself for it by laughing.
If you’re dealing with pain every day, a hearty laugh might do what the pain pills won’t.
If you’re under a burden of stress that feels like an elephant sitting on your chest, a good belly laugh might lift the elephant long enough for you to see a light in your darkness.
And that light is one that needs no batteries.
How to Start Laughing Right Now
How often have you told yourself when you’re stressed:
“I’ll laugh about this later.”
If you’re already planning to laugh at some point, start now.
Here are some quick and easy ways to light the flame.
What isn’t planned usually doesn’t happen.
Set aside time to watch a funny video or a sitcom. Monty Python usually works for me. My son and I have watched The Holy Grail so many times we can quote the dialog along with the characters. What makes that show so funny is that it is such a contrast to the seriousness of British culture.
Just like popping open a beer can at a funeral.
Poke fun at yourself.
We all do stupid things sometimes. Life throws us curveballs. And that important presentation can make you feel like you showed up at school in your pajamas.
People don’t mind when you laugh at yourself.
I remember when Ronald Reagan was running for President against Walter Mondale. One of the moderators asked him if he thought he was too old for the job.
His response was:
“I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I will not exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”
Even Mondale thought that was funny.
Laugh with others instead of at them and you’ll find friends wherever you go.
Laugh when you wonder if you should.
Life can be as gray as the hair on my head sometimes.
If you wonder whether you should laugh, go ahead. You probably can’t suppress it for long anyway.
But if you KNOW you shouldn’t, that’s different.
If someone knows you love them, they won’t be so offended by your laughter. Hopefully, they’ll laugh with you and you can talk.
And then the stress of not laughing won’t kill your joy.
Or your relationship.
Start Laughing Today
Procrastination and perfectionism are inseparable siblings.
Don’t start tomorrow.
Don’t expect your laughter to be perfect.
Just do it.
If the first thing you find doesn’t make you laugh, keep looking. Aim high. Persist until you laugh. Trust me on this, you’ll be glad you did.
And that persistence will give you the strength you need to stand up the eighth time after you’ve fallen seven.