Laugh More to Live Longer

The many benefits of laughter

happy family laughing

(Fizkes / Shutterstock)

This article is by Goodness Exchange, an online platform celebrating the wave of goodness and progress well underway all around the world. View the original article here.

Did you know there’s a secret universal language out there that every human on earth (and many animals too) speak fluently? I’ll give you a few hints… It’s silly. It’s contagious. And, it may hold the key to staying young at heart, regardless of what life throws your way.

I’m talking about laughter

If you think about it, laughter is pretty strange. Some might consider it to just be an involuntary bodily function, but if you look a bit closer, you’ll find that laughter provides extraordinary benefits for the body and soul. Let’s explore the scientific side of why we laugh in the first place, and then giggle our way into alllll the great reasons why we should seek it out as often as possible.

Your laugh is like your fingerprint!
We’ve all been at a restaurant and heard an outrageous kackling come from across the room that spawned our own outburst of laughter. Why do we find this so funny? Is it because our curiosity is imagining what they could be laughing about? Is it just that the person’s laugh is just so unbridled that it brings us joy to be in its presence? The answer is probably both. 

Each person’s laugh is as unique as a snowflake, no two people have the same laugh. But the really interesting part is, us humans have an uncanny ability to decipher if a laugh is fake, even if it’s our first time hearing someone laugh. If you are a “ha-ha”er or a  “hee-hee”er, or you just simply gasp and vibrate, others will know if it’s the real deal. 

Like a yawn, but better
Every school teacher can attest that yawning is contagious. But did you know that laughter is too? 

Laughter is especially contagious amongst children. As a former young girl who was known to unleash giggle fits upon the classroom, I can completely vouch for that!

Laughter is almost always a social behavior. And according to YouTube creator and scientist, Dr. Joe Hanson, people are thirty times more likely to laugh in social situations than on their own. The same is true for monkeys and other animals like rats, who too, display laughter in social situations. 

Why is it so important to keep laughing?
Laughter really is the best medicine. Not only does laughing improve our mood, but it opens us up to some remarkable benefits for our health and wellbeing. 

Some of the short-term benefits of laughing is that it stimulates many of our internal organs. (Talk about an ab work-out too!) Laughing enhances our intake of oxygen-rich air, and stimulates the heart, lungs, and muscles, while increasing endorphins (the feel-good chemical released from the brain). 

Additionally, some of the long-term benefits of laughter include stress and pain relief. When your body produces less stress hormones, the lower the risk of heart disease becomes. It even gives your immune system a good overall boost! 

Humor can also really help in the healing process for patients with chronic illness. That’s why medical clowning has become a thing! 

Boosts mental health
Sharing laughs is a beautiful way to connect with our loved ones. It aids in overcoming loneliness, and can be a nice way of helping one another through those tough days when the world feels heavy. Laughter is also a great tool for diffusing awkward situations and tense conversations that are tricky to navigate.

As Dr. Joe mentions in the video, laughter is especially helpful for couples. Ever gotten into a fight with your significant other over something dumb or trivial? Stepping back and looking at the humor in these situations can really break the tension and make you realize how silly a fight really is! As a result, the problem usually solves itself, or someone may be more willing to compromise.

Laughter can make problem solving feel less stressful, and bring a light-hearted sense of ease to otherwise unpleasant disagreements. Couples who can laugh together tend to stay together and have healthier relationships in the long run.

Furthermore, if you’ve ever battled with depression or anxiety, humor can be a healthy way to cope. In fact, depression is very common amongst professional comedians, many of whom fell in love with comedy as a way to channel their energies into something positive. 

Seek out those belly laughs!
I’m not suggesting that laughter is the magic cure for everything, because there are lots of things in life that are not funny and absolutely deserve some seriousness… But if you look through the right lens, you’ll find that there is a lot of humor hiding out there in our everyday lives. I challenge you to go find it! 

Next time you have the opportunity, invite a friend to a comedy show to laugh out loud and proud! And when your reusable shopping bag busts at the seams in the parking lot and your groceries spill out everywhere…just pause and laugh. Why? Because you can. And when you do, it will tickle the funny bones of those around you, and that joy will spread like wildfire.

Keep laughing and notice the beauty around you!

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