The Reflection Pool

There’s No Such Thing as Too Much Laughter

My ideal workplace includes laughter. Lots of laughter! Laughter means open heartedness. It means listening. It leads to great release of stress. I really believe that people who laugh a lot are way happier than those who don’t.

I’m not talking about cracking jokes or being sarcastic at the expense of others. I mean the ability to laugh whole heartedly. In her book Kidding Around,  Sue Stephenson talks about laughing clubs and how the act of laughing lifts us mentally and physically.

Photo Credit: shutterbugchik via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: shutterbugchik via Compfight cc

There are lots of resources on the web about the power of laughter.  Rob White brings together that thinking in this column from the Huffington Post. For instance, “Nothing is more contagious than uncontrollable laughter” and “learn to laugh at things not usually considered funny, [and] you are able to transcend ideology that stops you from being free”. Powerful.

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that one way I show caring is through laughter. I’m always looking for opportunities to laugh. When I take things too seriously and begin a rant, the only way out is to laugh at myself. When I’m feeling down or blue, I have a little exercise where I get my partner to do her “crazy laugh”. It gets me giggling and then laughing uncontrollably. I feel better, guaranteed. When my niece and I get the giggles, it’s so fun!

I hope that everyone has the opportunity to laugh at home and at work. If you don’t, then make some.

Best April Fools!

Yesterday, on April 1st, I visited a secondary school to talk with the principal and vice principals about their work and school improvement. Classroom visits are always part of the agenda since I love to see what is going on, meet educators and talk with students about their work.Westdale

When I arrived, the principal suggested we begin with class visits right away and I eagerly agreed. Up we went to a grade 11 History class. Two classes were combined with two excellent and well-respected teachers. What I observed: a learning goal on the chalkboard that read “We are learning how to copy notes.”; young people copying those notes from a screen with the teacher telling them to be sure to underline in red ink; the other teacher walking around giving feedback on post it notes to students on their note copying skills; students told to sit quiet and listen because no questions were allowed; homework in the form of a wordsearch and a crossword (the crossword was “differentiated” – you could do it in pen or pencil).

I thought, “What is going on here? These are the teachers I’ve heard so much about?” I was bewildered and wondered how to broach this topic with admin. Maybe I was missing something?

The principal interrupted my thoughts, “Ms. Dunlop, I can’t let this go on…April Fools!” The class and teachers burst into laughter.  Yes, it turns out it was all staged. The teachers shared how they barely kept a straight face while I was standing there watching. Students were happy that they had fooled the superintendent. And they totally did. It was fantastic.

They got me!

Thank goodness. I never want to see that stuff in a classroom again.

Photo Credit: mattymatt via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: mattymatt via Compfight cc

Five Reasons to Smile More

Photo Credit: Marwa Morgan via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Marwa Morgan via Compfight cc

I’ve been thinking a lot about smiling lately. I read Sue Stephenson’s new book, Kidding Around: Connecting Kids to Happiness, Laughter and Humour.  She talks about helping the children and teens in your life find happiness. Being mindful about all that is good is an important component. Smiling and laughing is just as important. Children tend to smile a lot more than adults, and we need to nurture that. We also need to nurture it in ourselves.

Have you noticed that a lot of people don’t smile that much? Look around next time you’re in a meeting or walking down the street.  Maybe we are aren’t aware of how important it is to smile, or maybe we feel there aren’t too many reasons to do it. I love to smile and laugh, so I’ve got lots of reasons! Here are five reasons for you to smile more.

1)  Researchers have found that the act of smiling can actually make you feel better and happier. So even when you’re feeling bad, try a big smile, and let it reach your eyes!

2) Watch The Hidden Power of Smiling, a Ted Talk by Ron Gutman.  Fascinating. And, it will make you smile!

3) The education business is about making schools and other learning spaces safe, welcoming and inclusive.  Take the time to stop, smile and say hello to students, parents and colleagues. Do it every day. You’ll notice a difference in how people treat you right away.

4) Smiling leads to laughter.  When was the last time you laughed so much that your stomach hurt? Find a way to get there. Start with a smile.

5) We all crave caring and a sense of belonging.  Try “eye hugs”. What’s that? A smile that reaches the eyes and is just for the person on the other end.  We may not be able to hug kids in schools, but we can sure give eye hugs!

Happy smiling! 🙂