Jane Trebilcock, Certified Personal Trainer

“Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?” “Dumbbell.” “Dumbbell who?” “Dumbbell broken, so I have to knock.”

While most of us know we should exercise regularly, eat healthfully, and sleep soundly, in order to stay sane during the holidays, laughter is critically underappreciated in preserving a cheerful demeanor. As your schedule becomes busier and busier and your Thanksgiving discussions get continuously more heated, your brain can start sending you into fight or flight reactions. Smiling is your best tool for telling your brain that everything is all right. Consider that when you get offended by a friend or family member’s comment, the same reactions are happening as when prehistoric humans found themselves face-to-face with saber-toothed cats! Smiling and laughing, even if it’s forced, reminds your brain that the stakes are not a matter of life or death. Both of these actions release endorphins, calming your mind which in turn relaxes your muscles and cools you down. Seeing other people smile is almost as effective as doing it yourself; it puts us at ease and makes it easier to trust the person. For your own mental health and that of the community, smiling and laughing is the best (and easiest) practice to employ daily.

I went to Macy’s to the men’s department. And I said, “Can you show me the cheapest suit in the store?” And he said, “You’re wearing it.” —Hal Roach


  1. Start with smiling. Smile to your family, neighbor, mailperson, personal trainer. Notice the effect. Typically, they’ll smile back!
  2. Count your blessings. Actually make a list of the good things in your life. Dwelling on the positive distances you from negative thoughts which are obstacles to humor and laughter.
  3. When you hear laughter, move towards it. Sometimes humor and laughter are a private joke shared by a few, but not usually. More often than not, people want to share their humorous stories with others and relive the moment.
  4. Spend time with fun, lighthearted people. These are people who laugh easily at themselves and life’s idiocies. Even if you are not a lighthearted person, seek out people who like to laugh and make others laugh. All comedians need an audience.
  5. Don’t go to bed without having laughed.