Laughter is one of our most basic emotional responses. It is not a learned phenomenon, it is an instinctive reaction that is programmed in our genes. According to Wikipedia, laughter is considered a visual expression of various positive emotional states such as joy, happiness, relief etc. If you break laughter down into specific audible sounds, it is usually a string of short syllables such as ha ha ha or he he he. These syllables are part of a universal language that everyone understands and is recognized by all cultures. Laughing is not a learned phenomenon. It is an instinctive reaction that is programmed in our genes.
Laughter has many positive benefits, physically, mentally, emotionally and socially.
This list is by no means exhaustive, just some of my favorite benefits of laughter:
- Laughter boosts immunity by decreasing stress hormones and increasing immune cells and infection fighting antibodies
- Laughter releases endorphins, the feel good chemicals of the brain which can also decrease pain.
- Laughter increases blood flow and improves circulation and heart health
- Laughter improves social bonding and feelings of belonging, strengthening relationships and attracting other people to us
- Laughter and humor can help diffuse conflict and enhance team work
- Laughter is a great stress reliever as it relaxes our entire body and releases physical tension
- Laughter can even improve sleep due to its relaxing nature.
- Laughing also has an exercise component to it as anyone who has ever laughed until their belly hurt (or more specifically, their deep core muscles got sore) can attest to.
I’m sure you have noticed that having a great laugh makes you feel good. You can’t possibly be upset while you are laughing. Even after you stop, the benefits linger and help you be more optimistic and stay positive in the face of adversity. This is why it is especially important to keep your sense of humor in difficult situations.
Laughing is an important component of social bonding. Research studies have shown that laughter in social situations occurred 30 times more frequently than in solitary ones. Some of us may be gifted with the quality of laughing at ourselves, by ourselves, but most of the time, laughter occurs in group settings. Laughter is also contagious and we are much more likely to laugh in the presence of others laughing. This explains the use of laugh tracks in television sitcoms. Laughing also releases Oxytocin, the bonding hormone.
They say “Laughter is the best medicine”. So how can we make sure to get our daily dose of laughter? Here are a few tips to add more laughter to your life:
- Spend time with people that make you laugh. This is my personal favorite way of doing it. Most of the people that I am closest to have a great sense of humor. Spending time with them and laughing together is always a big uplift for my spirit. The more I laugh with people, the closer I tend to feel to them.
- Watch Comedy. Whether it is on TV, the movies or at the local comedy club or open mic. Seek out entertainment that will make you laugh. You will have so much fun doing it and the benefits will last well after the show is over. Watching Funny videos on Youtube or Facebook are also great ways to watch comedy.
- Play with children. Children tend to be barrels full of laughter and since laughter is contagious, spending time playing with the little ones can give you a big dose of the best medicine.
- Watch animals play. I am blessed with a wonderful fur family. I live with the sweetest dog and 2 wonderful cats and the way the play can keep me entertained and laughing for hours. If you are blessed to have pets in your life, take advantage of the opportunity to let them make you laugh. If you don’t get to spend quality time with animals on a regular basis, there are tons of funny animal videos on Youtube.
- Read a funny book. There are so many wonderful books out there, many educational, that are written by authors with a great sense of humor who are not afraid to use it. Seek out authors that make you laugh and gobble up what they have written.
What are your favorite ways to meet your daily dose of laughter? Please comment below.
© Copyright 2015 Vanessa Naja/Holistic Moving