This blog post contains some affiliate links to resources you may find useful, at no extra costs to you. All opinions are my own.
You know how they say that laughter is the best medicine? As frivolous as that may sound, there actually is some truth in that.
Research confirms that having a strong sense of humor helps you live longer, even if you have poor health. That’s because laughter releases endorphins that boost your mood and counteract the negative effects of stress, like compromised immunity. Even better, these feel-good chemicals raise your ability to ignore pain, making genuine laughing a fun tool to manage chronic pain.
Laughing out loud also supports your heart health, by increasing your heart rate and the amount of oxygen in your blood as well a lowering your blood pressure. And let’s not forget how humor lightens your burden, strengthens your relationships and helps you deal with distressing emotions.
These benefits are no joke, so why aren’t we laughing and smiling more?
This blog post contains some affiliate links to products you may find useful, at no extra costs to you. All opinions are my own.
Experiencing joy and feeling sick every single day – that sounds like a huge contradiction right?
You’re right, there’s nothing fun about chronic illness. Being exhausted and in pain, having serious symptoms, not being able to do the things you love, it all sucks the joy right out of your day.
And yet, joy is a more powerful emotion than we give it credit for.
When you’re having fun, feel passionate or burst out laughing, your brain receives a signal to release dopamine and serotonin. These ‘happy hormones’ causes reactions in many other parts of your body, like a racing heart from excitement or butterflies in your stomach. Through this chemical process, joy boosts your immunity, reduces stress and pain, improves your heart health and makes it more likely to stick to a healthy lifestyle. Studies show that even a fake smile can trick your brain into a better mood and lower stress levels.
So when you think of it, you actually need more positive emotions like joy now that you are sick. Not just to support your health, but to counteract all the negative experiences you’re dealing with. According to the happiness ratio concept, you need 3 positive emotions for every negative one in order to feel good, physically and emotionally. (Ok, the exact ratio is criticized but not really important – the idea that you need plenty of positivity in life for a healthy balance is).
Making room for joy in your day is not a luxury, it’s a necessity for your wellbeing.
Sounds great, but how can you cultivate joy when you’re chronically ill or experiencing other kinds of hardship?
The first thing to realize, is that you can be sick and hurting and experience moments of joy at the same time. Feeling happy and excited or having fun does not mean that you aren’t seriously ill. It means you were able to put your pain aside for a little while to enjoy life too. These conflicting emotions can coexist. Filling your days with more laughter and more fun activities is not selfish or frivolous – you’re simply trying to live a full life despite your illness (and work on your health in the mean time!).
Even on bad days, you can try to find joy in your senses, from cherishing a good piece of chocolate to listening to your favorite song. You can find joy in playfulness, getting silly and laughter. It isn’t easy, but looking for the humor in every situation can be a helpful coping mechanism. You can even find joy in accomplishments, like putting in a day’s of hard work or overcoming challenges.
Whatever sparks joy for you, make sure your sprinkle more of these simple pleasures throughout your day. I highly recommend making your own happy list to cultivate positivity when life’s tough.
And perhaps the 15 joy quotes below will give you some inspiration – or at least put a smile on your face today.
Bob Marley made it sound so easy, but feeling happy no matter your situation forms a challenge for most of us. It’s hard to be bursting with joy when you’re exhausted and in pain, or when you’re struggling with money troubles and heartache.
Over the past decades, countless of popular psychology books and articles have shown us that there are things we can do to influence our level of happiness. Although our genes and life circumstances definitely play a role too, we can all take steps to get happier.
Of course, that’s great news. And recommended habits like practicing gratitude, moving your body regularly, spending time in nature and building strong relationships all prove to boost your emotional wellbeing. But is the pursuit of happiness actually making us feel better?
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“Life is like a story; it unfolds its beauty and tragedy along with your thoughts.” ― Debasish Mridha
You know how you can predict how your typical boy-meets-girl romcom will go and yet you’re still excited to see the movie? That’s because the human brain is hard-wired for stories.
Life rarely goes as planned, and our life story is how we all make sense of an unpredictable world and our place in it. We turn a complex, disjointed situation into a plot with a beginning, middle and an ending – including the occasional twist, cliffhanger, villains and heroes.
Life stories are not a chronological summary of events that occurred, but more a fluid narrative of how you interpret those life events. The messages our parents gave us growing up, the experiences we’ve had, the environment we live in – they all shape the story we tell ourselves about life, the world around us and our own identity.
In turn, those beliefs shape our daily reality. For example, if deep down you feel that you aren’t good enough, you’ll probably react differently to a comment about your looks than your confident friend. Beliefs about your basic personality tend to create a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you consider yourself a shy person, you’re less likely to apply for that top position you secretly want. That’s why the life story you tell yourself matter much more than you think.
Narrative psychology tries to separate the person from their problems, by framing their story in a larger context. What’s more, the techniques help to create an alternative, more constructive storyline than the one you’re telling yourself right now.
Are you ready for the next chapter? Read how you can turn the page and watch a better story unfold with these 14 life story quotes.
For as long as I can remember, writing down my thoughts, hopes, dreams and plans has instantly made me feel better. So to me, it’s no surprise that journaling has so many benefits for your emotional and physical wellbeing.
Trusting your deepest feelings to paper helps to reduce stress, which plays a major role in your overall health. Research shows that emotionally expressing yourself through journaling can strengthen your immunity and reduces symptoms in asthma and arthritis patients. And of course, traditional journaling is also a great tool for self-reflection and personal development, and to rewrite your personal story after traumatic events.
But a diary-style of writing isn’t the only way to keep a journal. Gratitude journaling has gained a lot of popularity over the years, and it’s not hard to see why. Study after study shows that writing down 3 positive things that happened that day is one of the most effective ways to feel happier.
Writing by hand also signals to your brain that ‘this is worth remembering’, which is why so many people use a journal to define their (health) goals and visions. If you write and read your dreams, plans and to-dos every day, you’ll be much more likely to actually achieve them.
No matter if you’re looking to boost your health, happiness or self-growth, grab yourself a journal – I recommend the beautiful & inspiring collection from Emily McDowell – and start jotting down your thoughts with these 40 journal prompts!
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