Laugh! It's Good For You.

happy, laughing

This photo is by Filomena Scalise, from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Laughter begets laughter, we know this intuitively. From childhood to adulthood we have experienced “contagious laughter,”, “laughing fits”, and “uncontrollable laughter”. We use these terms because we feel the laughter over take us and we can’t help but enjoy. This lack of restraint and tension is part of the reason that humor is healthy for our bodies and our brains.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “a rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure.” This leaves you feeling positive and relaxed. “Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.” Laughter stimulates our organs, increases endorphins and encourages us to breathe in more oxygen.

There are long-term health benefits of laughing too: Laughing improves your immune system. “Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can impact your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.”

Laughter calls our attention to the present moment, connects our body and mind and facilitates connections with other people.

For all of these reasons, and for the pure joy of laughing, communities all over the world are hosting laughing events. Comedy shows are great fun, but these events are different as there is no separation between the entertainer and the audience. In fact, there is no separation between the entertainment and the response. That’s because people gather together simply to laugh together—to experience a collective energy of happiness, one that is much more magnified than two people laughing together.

In Montreal, a community gathers on “the mountain” (the central park in town) to lie on the grass, look to the sky and welcome stress-free, health inducing giggles. In New York, laughing competitions welcome participants to get on stage and laugh into the microphone. 

Especially as we grow older, we may wish to remind ourselves that laughing is not a frivolous activity for children. It is a valuable pastime. When you laugh, so will those around you. Next time something strikes you as hilarious, don’t suppress that widening smile. Instead, share a booster-shot of healthy happiness with a friend, co-worker or stranger.

How do you encourage yourself to laugh? What can you do to laugh more in life?

 

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