I was inspired by a letter in our local paper from someone in last week’s edition about greeting others during our bouts of daily essential exercise or visits to the supermarket. In it, Chris affirmed that a smile or wave to others that cross our paths would not result in contamination and that, for me, raised a very valid message about how we connect with each other in this unprecedented time.
Viewing constant reports of increased deaths and enforced lockdowns globally is enough to send anyone spinning in a downward spiral. However, we don’t have to partake in that and if we want to grow strong and build our immunity, there is no greater way than by increasing the amount of joy and laughter in our lives and connecting with others. For some it seems inconceivable to laugh in the face of adversity but actually, right now, it is one of the most beneficial things we can do to help us build our resilience.
Laughter is thought to boost the immune system by relaxing the body, eases pain, enhances sleep, burns calories, lifts mood, and alleviates stress. According to one pioneer in laughter research, one minute’s hearty laugh is purported to be equivalent to 10 minutes on a rowing machine in terms of getting our heart rate up, so it can be akin to a body workout through the stretching of muscles and releasing of beneficial hormones.
Shifting our focus away from the depressing doom and gloom and ‘what ifs’, to building our immunity and community seems to be the way to move forward. Bringing laughter, joy and fun into our worlds can seem the wrong thing to do at times of crisis but it is actually the best way to keep our resilience and motivation up.
Laughing and having fun at times like this does not mean we don’t care. It means that we accept what has happened has happened and we are going to constructively find ways to deal with it with grace rather than become a victim to it and disempower ourselves. Getting angry and frustrated at systems, people, services or the government right now will serve nobody. It’s up to us to find better ways of making the changes we need to make as a society and that involves connecting as a community. There is great power in that connection and together we can move mountains. It is we, after all, that create these systems to serve us.
So, when we pass a fellow human being, whether it is in the supermarket, on our daily brief exercise or walking the dog, let’s connect with each other and meet with our eyes, smile, say hello or place a hand on our hearts to acknowledge each other. We are all in this together and we don’t need to be miserable throughout this time, if we have the choice to avoid that. A smile to another may be the only smile they receive that day and may help to lift their mood or bring them a sense of connection that they otherwise may not have, especially at this time. So, if you don’t feel like smiling for you right now, smile for someone else. Make that connection and bring joy into someone else’s life and that, in itself, is another way of serving in the community.