When I’m working out, practicing, or playing in a game, I’m often wearing a look of intense focus and determination. I take football seriously, very seriously, and I’m constantly trying to become a better running back. But I also often remind myself of a couple of key words: football is a game, and I’m playing. I wasn’t always this way. In high school, I felt like people doubted me because I was from Wisconsin, and I took it personally. I took things way too seriously.
But when I got to college, at the University of Wisconsin, I learned from my more experienced teammates, like James White and Montee Ball, that it’s important to enjoy the process. You can work hard and have fun, too. And more than anything, it’s important to laugh. It’s a common saying that laughter is the best medicine, but it’s actually true.
So, how do you get in a good laugh? I like to get a group of friends or teammates together and just kick it. We’ll have a cookout. Go to the beach. Or just hang out and play video games. We’ll relax and talk about pretty much everything but football — life, whatever — and we’ll laugh, I mean good, stomach-grabbing, nearly hysterical laughter.
- Spend time with those friends and family members who make you laugh, even when the jokes aren’t that funny — you know who they are.
- Hang out with kids, who laugh as much as 300 times a day, and tune in to what makes them crack up to get a good chuckle yourself.
- Funny books, TV shows, and Internet videos are proven ways to get a good laugh — so no need to feel guilty about soaking in the cat GIFs.
Success in what you’re doing is never guaranteed. You can work hard, do everything the right way, and things still don’t turn out the way you want. But if you’re so serious that you forget to have fun, and laugh a little bit, while also trying to accomplish your goals, it only makes the disappointment of not achieving them that much worse. I’ve found that when I’m in an environment where my attention to detail is on point, but I can also laugh and have fun, then I’m much less stressed. And I actually end up performing better.
I’m glad I learned that early on in my life, it’s allowed me to laugh a lot more.
Pro Tip: Getting in a good laugh is a Rally® Mission, and it’s sound science. Studies have shown that laughter helps to reduce depression and anxiety, and causes your stress hormones to drop. Laughing can also boost your body’s immunity, and help fight off infections. And because laughing releases your brain’s “feel good” chemicals, called endorphins, it can actually help numb pain. Try to get in a hearty laugh at least once a day.