Why Laughter is the Best Medicine

Laughter is a bold declaration of happiness.We’re all familiar with its contagious effect, and attempts to stifle it often result in uncontrollable giggles. Professional comedians claim that there is humor to be found in virtually any situation, given enough time. We all know that laughing feels good, but what impact does it have on our daily wellbeing? Let’s turn to the research to find out.Recent studies suggest that laughter enhances the quality of romantic relationships. One experiment found that couples instructed to reminisce about occasions where they laughed together reported being more satisfied with their relationships, compared to couples that remembered times when they laughed apart from one another or times when they shared positive (but not funny) experiences1.QUIZ: What Kind of Funny Are You? Interestingly, the occasions on which couples laughed together were not always positive. This suggests that the ability to laugh about neutral or even negative experiences together enhances relationship satisfaction, which is highly related to feeling happy.How can you make this work for your relationship? Next time you and your significant other are caught in traffic or dine at a mediocre restaurant, help each other find the humor in the situation.Each time you do this, you create one more memory for the both of you to fondly remember.MORE: How Humor Makes You BeautifulResearch also indicates that laughter is powerful enough to enhance our physical health. A recent experiment found that mothers who watched and laughed at a Charlie Chaplin movie, “Modern Times,” had higher levels of melatonin in their breast milk, which helped reduce allergic responses and promoted better sleep in their infant children. Another group of mothers that watched a video about weather information did not experience this change2.Another experiment revealed that women who watched a humorous movie reported lower stress levels and experienced greater immune system functionality, relative to a control group that watched a tourism video3. Finally, laughing has been associated with decreased levels of prorenin in the blood, which is involved in the onset of diabetic complications4.Laughter may not be the best medicine, but it does seem to have a legitimate medicinal value.QUIZ: Are You Feeling Happy?Do you need to laugh more often? Having a lot of responsibilities can make life seem somber and boring. It’s been months since I’ve had a good chuckle paying bills or taking out the garbage! Here are a few tips on how to keep the laughs coming amidst the daily drudgery of life:

  • Stand-up comedy. This art form has entertained the masses for decades. Choose a comedian that’s relatable and not offensive to you. Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Cosby, two all-time greats, have clean acts and are truly funny. Listen to their albums or search for them on YouTube. If you’re lucky, you might even catch them on tour.
  • Surround yourself with funny people. Determine whether you habitually spend time with others who tend to talk about grim matters. There’s a time and a place for such discussions, but more often than not, hang out with a friend or family member who keeps things light-hearted and makes you laugh.
  • Amuse yourself. Consider this wise adage: “Blessed are we who laugh at ourselves, for we will never cease to be amused.” As we mature, it’s easy to take life far too seriously. Whenever you have a moment alone, get in the habit of laughing out loud. Don’t be shy; nobody can hear you! Think of something amusing you saw or heard earlier in the day or imagine a scene from your favorite comedic movie. Whatever it takes to make you laugh, do it! You’ll be glad you took a break from your usual worries.

MORE: Tips for HappinessPeople often dismiss laughter as a youthful tendency that fades with time. I wholeheartedly disagree with this assumption. Having a good laugh is not just an occasional pleasant experience—it can become a way of life and should be a high priority on any given day.Indeed, humor has a powerful and unique ability to overshadow virtually any other emotion, even when we feel frightened or sad.  Whether or not you consider yourself “funny,” focus on finding ways to laugh heartily and frequently. You may find that laughter and happiness are a natural pair.COLUMN: Humor is Attractive

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