Laughter: A Dog’s Best Friend for Easing Stress

You humans need to lighten up. Sure, life poses many serious challenges, but you awfulize way too much. Find the humor in daily life. Take it from me, Ron Tickles, there is no better comedy than watching humans (and pets) right at home. Besides being great fun, laughter ranks as one of the best remedies for easing stress and promoting mental health.

Every day presents new occasions for giggles, snickers and belly laughs. You just have to look for them. Take me, for instance, I live with a typical American family – Mom, Dad, Junior, two cats and a hamster.  Here are just a few examples of the comical things they do.

Dinner Time

It’s obligatory that Junior sneaks his serving of kale (or broccoli or greenbeans or spinach) under the dinner table for me to eat. I don’t mind; I eat just about anything. I have to chuckle when Dad also slips his serving of kale under the table to avoid a confrontation with Mom. Even funnier is when Mom scrapes the remaining kale on her plate into the garbage disposal before she retreats into the pantry for a bite of dark chocolate.

Exercise

Every New Year’s rings in a new exercise machine. For the first three weeks, Mom, Dad and Junior huff and puff on the latest version of a hamster wheel. It amuses me to watch their pet hamster exert all that effort to spin around and go nowhere. It’s even more hysterical to watch the humans spin their wheel to go nowhere fast. Then after a couple of months, the new exercise machine joins the retired treadmills, ellipticals, rowers and stationary bicycles in the basement corner near the washer. After all, exercise machines are great for hanging clothes to dry.

Cat Race

Never willing to let sleeping cats lie, I tickle the younger male kitten on his tummy. This triggers a chain of reactions just like the old mouse-trap game. First the kitten arches his back after awakening abruptly.  Then he paws the older female cat who hisses in return.  Soon they are chasing around the house in a fury. During their hot pursuit, they knock down the hamster cage, unlatching its door. Seeing his chance to get off that silly wheel, the hamster scurries out to roam the house. When Mom arrives home, she screams because she thinks the hamster is a mouse. Dad looks for a mouse trap until Junior notices the hamster cage door is ajar. Then the whole family chases through the house to capture the hamster, who wants nothing to do with that ridiculous hamster wheel. Not even a stand- up comedian could write better material.

How you View it

You can look at most life situations with the dog dish half empty or half amusing. Mental-health professionals love to complicate this basic fact with theories like CBT, DBT, and ACT, when all you need is a little FUN. Next time you feel stressed, depressed or crossed, try to glean some humor in the situation. If you find this difficult, watch a funny YouTube video. Then study the situation again. You may often find that the situation isn’t so bad, and you might even figure out a few solutions.

Psychologist and “Cheerman of the Bored”, Steve Wilson, founded the World Laughter Tour, an organization devoted to promoting physical and mental health by living more positively. On its website you can search for Certified Laughter Leaders who lead individual or group laughter sessions, a great complement to traditional therapy. If you really want to humor others, you can seek training to become a Certified Laughter Leader yourself.

Take my advice and lighten up.  Oh . . . there scampers a real mouse.  Better rouse the cats.