What's Holding You Back?

Valorie Burton is a bestselling author, speaker, and life coach dedicated
to helping you:

  • Be happier and have more fun, even when life seems routine.
  • Navigate setbacks or disappointments that make you better, not bitter.
  • Make a major life change that's exciting and scary at the same time.

Just for Laughs!

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22

If you were ever a Seinfeld fan, perhaps you remember the episode in which Jerry dates a woman and his friends point out to him that she never laughs. Instead, when Jerry says something funny, she just says in a deadpan tone, “That’s funny.” It’s quite ironic since she’s dating a comedian. And it brings me to this point: Laughter is not meant to be held in, controlled, or watered down.

Lol is so overused today that no one really means lol when they say lol! Lol. Literally. Every day, something ought to make you laugh out loud. So open your mouth. Smile big. Laugh out loud – from your belly. No clothed-mouthed laughing allowed – besides, it sounds ridiculous and makes you look constipated. I once knew a woman who always laughed with her mouth closed, like she was going to get into trouble if she really let it out. She pressed her lips together and made a little giggle noise from her throat – and sometimes when it became way too hard for her to keep it in, the laughter would push its way out through her nose, like bad snoring on the exhale.

One day, I said, “How come you laugh quiet?”

She laughed (with her mouth closed) at my question, and then said, “I hadn’t thought about it. Is that what I do?”

“Yes! And I just want you to let it out!” I replied.

“You know, when I was a kid, I got in trouble for laughing and a relative told me it wasn’t ladylike for girls to laugh loud, so I came up with a cute laugh that wasn’t so loud” she reflected.

“Do you still believe that?” I asked.

“Well, actually, no,” she said.

Laughing is healthy. And as adults, we don’t do enough of it. If you have trouble laughing, get around babies. The average baby laughs 300 times a day. The average adult? Just 20 times a day. Like smiling, laughter is a universal human language. Neurophysiologists explain that laughter activates the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain the produces endorphins. Laughter has been shown to reduce the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. It can actually boost your immune system – and your brain power. The resulting positive emotions expand your ability to learn and absorb new information. This is why speakers often start with a joke, and do well to incorporate humor into their presentations, no matter how serious the subject matter. So just how can you incorporate more laughter into your day.

Consider these ideas:

  • Lighten up and laugh at yourself!
  • Spend time around people who laugh.
  • Watch something funny.
  • Play with a baby or young children.
  • Tell and listen to humorous stories and memories.

So laugh this week! Even in those moments when you may be stressed, think back to a time when you had an uncontrollable laugh, or tell yourself a joke and see how it increases your mood for the day. What do you have to laugh or smile about this week? What happy thoughts can you reflect on that can give you a genuine laugh? Leave your comments below; I’d love to hear from you!


You Are What You Say You Are!

You’ve heard it many times: You are what you think. But thoughts often become words before they become actions. So it’s safe to say this: You are also what you say. In fact, neuroscientists have now proven that just saying powerful words can make you more powerful. For example, when you lift a weight, saying a word such as “strong” increases the force with which you lift that weight. Amazing, isn’t it? Proverbs 18:21 is literally true, scientifically proven: Life and death are in the power of the tongue.

I tested it out while doing a crazy workout video in which the guy leading the exercises keeps looking into the camera and telling me to, “dig deeper.” Panting, sweating and out of breath, I want to tell him to shut up. I’m trying to focus! But he keeps saying it, keeps encouraging me – and so I keep digging deeper for more energy and strength. And you know what? It works. Whether it is a word of encouragement from someone else or the words you speak to encourage yourself, words are powerful.

In fact, positive language is a happiness trigger. I like to call this language, “winning words.” They are words that trigger positive emotions and chemicals in the brain that cause you to feel happier and stronger. There are several ways to use your words to boost your happiness. See a few of them here:

  1. Speak in the affirmative.
  2. Surround yourself with positive words.
  3. Shorten your sob story.
  4. Write about your best possible future self – in the present tense.
  5. Receive positive words.
  6. Use words to bounce back

“From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things.” – Proverbs 12:14.

Speak in the Affirmative

Say these statements aloud – slowly and intentionally.

–          I can do it.

–          My dream is possible.

–          I am happy about_________________.

–          God loves me.

–          I am loved and loveable.

–          I am blessed.

–          I am grateful for __________________.

–          I have gifts and talents that make the world a better place.

–          I like who I am becoming.

It may seem a little hokey to make positive statements out loud, but what most women feel after making such statements is lighter, stronger, happier, and more optimistic. What emotions do you feel after stating those words? Are these emotions positive? Leave your comments below; I’d love to hear from you!