(Feel free to think I’m bonkers. I do, half the time!)
The background: On the weekend I went to a “Laughing yoga” class at the Green Lotus Studio in Sydney, because I’d heard that laughter is super good for you, and wanted to see what the heck “laughing yoga” was all about. Plus it was free (donations accepted). So, free + laughter = Leah is hooked.
And once I got over the discomfort of feeling completely ridiculous, clapping while shouting “HO HO, HA HA HA” over and over, and staring strangers in the eye, it was actually a lot of fun. The different exercises the teacher had us do were a bit like acting exercises you might have done before: for example, one of the exercises had the room of 25 or so women pantomiming driving a “laughter scooter” around the room and then bumping into other people and having to be mad and also apologize “in laughter.” Another had us all pretending to eat hot soup and getting the giggles, over and over. Yet another had us trying to laugh completely silently, which I found really difficult!
So I guess the brain doesn’t realize whether you’re really laughing or just imitating laughing, which is why these exercises work so well. Plus, the act of laughing, as well as feeling completely ridiculous, makes you laugh, for real. One woman actually had to sit down, she was laughing so hard!
In between the little acting exercises we’d stretch our arms way up, and bring them down, breathing deeply as we did so. And we’d stretch our necks and heads too. We did this, laughing exercises followed by stretches, for about an hour. (The Laughter Yoga website is here if you want to learn more.)
And afterwards, I was in *such* a good mood, and felt released, in a way. Free to just be a goofball. I felt, well, happy. I laughed with a little boy in a shopping cart at the grocery store. I talked to the man who made my falafel at Lebanese Flower and he actually gave me a little cup of spices to take home with me! His daughter said, “He never does that!”
So that whole experience on Saturday, as well as a conversation with a friend at the yoga studio about happiness indexes and measuring happiness, got me thinking that I’d like to do a “what if” series here on the blog. I like “what ifs” because they get me to stretch my mind and my imagination, and the way to create a better future really does start with imagining it. Several years ago when I was recovering from depression and anxiety, my counsellor would ask me “What does your life look like, when you have overcome this?” Just imagining it was the start to making it happen.
So this isn’t a strenuous exercise. You don’t have to commit to anything, or sign up, or give your email to one more thing. We’re not forming committees or boards. It’s a freebie: a no-commitment sixty seconds in your day to let your mind be free and just fantasize about this island, these communities we live in, and how they might look and feel in the not-so-distant future.
Here’s today’s “what if”: What if a report came out tomorrow that said, “Cape Breton has been ranked as the happiest place to live in the whole wide world!”
Now just imagine it for a minute. What would life look like here? What would your daily life be like? What would really matter to people, what wouldn’t matter? What would we have done to make this so?
You can leave comments, or not, it’s up to you. But I always read them. 🙂
Have a great Monday!