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Blowing your own horn

Humor has the power to change us intrinsically. We all know it. We feel the difference a good belly laugh makes or how injecting humor can break the tension in the room. Laughter and mirth (simply feeling the humor) change the chemicals in our brain and in our bodies. There are science and research studies to back it up, yet I don’t need stats. I simply want to experience it. How about you? Want to use humor to feel better every day?

To build a humor kit, go to the dollar store. Invest in a bag of party horns, a can of Play Doh and some sticky notes. Grab whatever else tickles you.

Keep a horn at work, at home and in the car. When a driver cuts you off or your computer drives you crazy, toot your horn! You are letting off steam in a healthier way and the folks around will think you’re silly, breaking the stress that grips them, too.

When you want to get your kids’ attention, blow your horn. It’s much better than yelling. There’s another side, too. You can literally blow your own horn to celebrate. Your new recipe came out great — party horn blow! You landed a new client — party horn blow! You love your new haircut — party horn blow! This “breathing exercise” does wonders for your mental health.

Use the PlayDoh as a stress ball. Squeeze and pass it back and forth between hands. There is left-brain right-connection happening, yet it simply feels good. Take two minutes to make a tiny sculpture and leave it somewhere for someone else to find. That sprinkle of humor creates a ripple effect throughout the home or workplace.

Sticky notes are the greatest invention ever. Post a reminder next to your alarm clock: “I will laugh today.” You have just increased your odds of a more enjoyable day. Write silly notes and stick them in unconventional places. Inside the fridge, cupboard or microwave. On mirrors at home and at work. On a desk lamp, computer screen, briefcase. A funny phrase or sentence, a quote, an inside joke, or anything of healthy humor can make someone else’s day. You’ve upped your happy quotient leaving stealth stickies.

There are myriad ways to inject humor into every day. Of course, read funny stuff. You don’t have to bust a gut. Smiling on the inside has the same effect. Keep a toilet tank reader in the loo and one at bedside. Read a few pages every night. You’ll sleep better, wake up feeling more rested, and face the day with a better attitude. Again, science proves it.

Why not prove it for yourself? Give it a whirl and you’ll see how simple it is to laugh and smile more every day. Your health will improve, and so will your mood. That is something to smile about.

—Kelly Epperson Simmons

Kelly Epperson Simmons, author/speaker/book coach and two-time judge of the Erma Bombeck national humor essay writing contest, is honored to be invited to speak at Gilda’s LaughFest in Grand Rapids, Mich., on March 14. She will speak to the emotional and health benefits of humor and happiness at this 10-day festival that honors the late Gilda Radner and her charity, Gilda’s Club. To learn about LaughFest, click here.

Reflections of Erma