A life without humor is no joking matter. We all love a good laugh and the feeling it gives us – and there is a reason – there are true health benefits to a good giggle or hearty chuckle that can be essential to our well-being. UCLA Medical School established a Humor Research Task Force after Norman Cousins managed his pain with laughter therapy and now there is actually an American Association of Therapeutic Humor. Babies begin to smile within the first few weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Children laugh on average 200 times a day whereas adults only 26 times daily. Experts recommend that we get a good 15 minutes of deep belly laughter every day and here’s why.
Laughter attracts us to one another and in turn makes us more attractive and sociable. Think of the feeling you get from telling a good joke and having people respond favorably.
Laughter is relaxing and relieves stress, tension, pain and conflict and inspires hope. It triggers the release of happy hormones – endorphins that activate the body’s opiate receptors causing an analgesic, calming effect. It also allows us to let go of inhibitions and defensiveness and as a result we feel more connected to each other. It can improve heart health and even help with weight loss.
Laughter can balance cortisol levels and reduce blood pressure too. This hormonal steroid produced in the adrenals helps us cope with stress but when over produced can make us susceptible to illness, weaken our immune systems, and interrupt our sleep.
So let’s consider ways to get a good dose of daily laughter.
Be social with fun people who don’t dwell on the negative.
Smile a lot.
Be prepared to laugh at yourself. It can shift your perspective and very often offer a solution where there was a problem.
Find a good comedy or sitcom and watch with friends.
Try laughter yoga.
The message here is laugh lots and live longer. Exercising those facial muscles regularly will also make you appear more youthful.
As Victor Hugo wisely quoted: “ Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”