The Power of Laughter

On the internet no one knows you're a dog

Lest I be coming off as too serious in my posts, I decided it was time to write about something a little more light-hearted than my usual fare.  I figure there’s a time for everything in life.  A time to introspect, a time to ponder the meaning of life, to be serious and  contemplative.  And then there’s a time to set yourself free and laugh.   

I actually love to laugh.  I may be one of the inward-focussed, but my sense of humour is very much intact.  Proof that the two characteristics can definitely co-exist.   Thank goodness.

There is a reason why we are so attracted to comedy and the funny side of life.  It’s because it makes us laugh, and laughter has phenomenal healing powers according to science.  The actual physical act of laughing produces all kinds of positive reactions in our body, not the least of which is physical and emotional release.  But more than that, it relieves anxiety and nervousness by lowering stress hormones (cortisol) in the body.  And it releases feel-good endorphins into our brain, improving mood instantly and creating a euphoric reaction much like cardiovascular exercise.  In fact, cardiologists have recently concluded through the study of laughter that it actually protects against heart disease.  It seems that people with heart disease generally have less of a sense of humour, therefore they laugh less, and hold onto anger more.  Laughter can even increase your anti-body producing cells and strengthen your immune system.  Strange but true, apparently.

From a psychological perspective, laughter can improve the way you perceive things, giving a more light-hearted feeling to your life and relieving depression, at least temporarily.  And just as a fake smile can fool your brain into thinking you are actually smiling for real, thus feeling happy, so can fake laughter.  But why bother with the fake stuff when you can go for the real thing?

Of course we all find different things amusing.  Much of our preferences for humour are derived from environmental exposure.  We learn what is funny from our parents and those who were around us when we were growing up.   My own sense of humour tends to run on the very dry side so I generally appreciate subtlety in my humour.  I don’t like slapstick comedy and I don’t appreciate anything that makes fun of the underprivileged or disadvantaged in the world.   

A couple of weeks ago my Director uncharacteristically showed me a clip he found on YouTube.  I remain surprised at the reaction I had to that clip since it fell way off the radar of what I would normally find funny.  I don’t know if it was because it was so unexpected, or if it was just a certain mood that I was in, but I had a laugh like I haven’t had in a long, long time.  It was a, close the door, tears rolling down, hinging on hysterics kind of laughter.   The after effect of it stayed with me for days.  It cleared my lungs, (I’m not a smoker), improved my vision, (temporarily), improved my mood, and essentially made me feel relaxed and positive for days after.  A reminder to me that laughter is ridiculously beneficial and that we really all should make more room for it in our lives.

On that note, I would like to share with you the clip that had me rolling.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVwlMVYqMu4

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This entry was posted in Happiness, Joy, Meaning of Life, Personal Growth, Positive Thinking, Psychology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Power of Laughter

  1. Love the positivity! Do you have any “power of positive thinking” stories you’d like to share on my blog? (Links and credit given, of course.) Let me know! You can also email me at mollie at mollieplayer.com.

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