If you’ve ever tried, in vain, to stifle a belly laugh – you have seen the true power of laughter in action.
Laughter is a universal sound – the same in every language. It is “the best medicine” and “good for the soul”. Cliches? Indeed. But the thing about cliches is that there is truth behind them.
If you’ve ever met a humorless person, a scowler, a pouter – then you have seen the face of true sadness. They have lost their joy. Don’t let that happen to you – laughter can help you in more ways than you can count – it is a great treasure.
Here are a few ways laughter can help improve your health (Elizabeth Scott, MS):
- Hormones: Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol (too much of which causes weight gain). It also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins (natural pain and stress fighters). Laughter increases the number of antibody-producing cells we have working for us, and enhances the effectiveness of T cells (aid in immunity). All this means a stronger immune system, as well as fewer physical effects of stress.
- Physical Release: Laughter is cleansing – it removes tension.
- Internal Workout: A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even works out the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed afterward. It even provides a good workout for the heart.
- Distraction: Laughter brings the focus away from anger, guilt, stress and negative emotions in a more beneficial way than other mere distractions.
- Perspective: Humor can give us a more lighthearted perspective and help us view events as ‘challenges’, thereby making them less threatening and more positive.
- Social Benefits: Laughter connects us with others. Just as with smiling and kindness, most people find that laughter is contagious. By elevating the mood of those around you, you can reduce their stress levels too, and perhaps improve the quality of social interaction you experience with them, reducing your stress level even more!
Let yourself laugh – even when a situation seems ridiculous…especially then. Find friends who laugh. I’ve found that laughter and a good sense of humor is something all of the people I love most, possess.
As Anne Lamott said, “Laughter is carbonated holiness.”