Laugh and live well

Don’t let laughter fade from your life. “Babies smile or laugh hundreds
of times a day but grownups tend to do it far less — and we lose as a result,”
says Michael Stones, psychology professor and director of the Northern Educational
Centre for Aging and Health at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Laughter helps diffuse feelings of anger and frustration and has the added bonus of boosting the immune system, according to a study at Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California. And as the old adage goes, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. People who smile and laugh attract and keep friends a lot more readily than do grouches.

“It’s really important for people to make sure they get their fair share
of pleasurable experiences,” notes Stones. “If they don’t, it can
be just as devastating as having a whole series of negative things happen. People
should do those things they really enjoy doing. It’s not selfish. In fact, if
you don’t do it you tend to become miserable and make other people unhappy.”

Learning how to play also helps people age with grace. In Aging Well: Surprising
Guideposts to a Happier fe from the Landmark Harvard Study of Adult Development
George E. Vaillant, M.D. and director of the study writes, “In retirement,
what is important is to live life fully and that, in many ways, is achieved
through play and through minimally paid creativity. In retirement, you can finally
quit your daytime job and follow your bliss.”

Photo © Tyler