Laughter is one of the most useful and pleasant emotions. Laughter instantly relaxes us at three levels, the physical, the mental and the emotional. We laugh because we enjoy ourselves and we enjoy because we laugh.
Laughter releases tonic emotions which through the medium of sympathetic nervous system, cause a sudden nervous discharge and change the physiological reactions of the individual. At the purely physical level, a good laugh wonderfully relaxes muscular tension of the whole body, especially in the chest and abdomen. Inner tensions are speedily relieved. This in turn leads to a deeper rhythm in the respiration, allowing oxygen to circulate more freely through the blood to every part of the body. We are thereby stimulated, tickled and relaxed.
Stress management benefits of laughter:Laughter is the all-time favourite stress-management strategy because it’s free, convenient, and beneficial in so many ways. More than half of illnesses are related to stress and many of the stressed people turn to smoking, alcohol and drugs. If only they had realised early the importance of laughter in warding off stress they would lead a normal stress-free life.
- Hormones: Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisone and adrenalin. It also increases the level of health enhancing hormones like endorphins, and neurotransmitters. Laughter increases the number of antibody producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T cells. All this means a stronger immune system, as well as fewer physical effects of stress.
- Physical release:Have you experienced the cleansed feeling after a good laugh? Laughter provides a physical and emotional release.
- Internal work-out:A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm and even works out the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed afterwards. 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.
Social benefits of laughter:
Laughter connects us with others. Also, laughter is contagious, so if you bring more laughter into your life, you can most likely help others around you to laugh more, and realise these benefits as well. By elevating the mood of those around you, you can reduce their stress levels, and perhaps improve the quality of social interaction you experience with them, reducing your stress level even more!
You can get more laughter in your life with the following strategies:
- TV and movies:There’s no shortage of laughter opportunities from the entertainment field, both at the theatre and in the aisles of the video stores, as well as at home with TV comedies. While wasting your time watching something marginally funny may actually frustrate you, watching truly hilarious movies and shows is an easy way to get laughter into your life whenever you need it.
- Laugh with friends:Going to a movie or comedy club with friends is a great way to get more laughter into your life. The contagious effects of laughter may mean you’ll laugh more than you otherwise would have during the show, plus you’ll have jokes for reference at later times. Inviting friends over for a party or game night is also a great set-up for laughter and other good feelings.
- Find humour in your life:Instead of complaining about life’s frustrations, try to laugh about them. If something is so frustrating or depressing it’s ridiculous, realise that you could ‘look back on it and laugh’. Think how it will sound as a story you could tell your friends, and then see if you can laugh about it now. With this attitude, you may also find yourself being more light-hearted and silly, giving yourself and those around you more to laugh about. Approach life in a more mirthful way and you’ll find you’re less stressed about negative events, and you’ll achieve the health benefits of laughter.
- Fake it until you make it:Just as studies show the positive effects of smiling occur whether the smile is fake or real, faked laughter also provides the benefits mentioned above. So smile more, and fake laughter – you’ll still achieve positive effects, and the fake merriment may lead to real smiles and laughter. Laugh out loud with an open mouth 15 minutes a day, as your way for good health.
Laughter is the best antidote to worries of any kind. A sense of humour is of greatest help in facing difficulties of all types. Laughter dissipates fears and apprehensions and certainly minimises mental strains. The sure deterrent to worry is laughter. All men laugh more or less, but those who laugh the most are the ones who live the longest and enjoy the best health.
The various axioms in use about laughter are well meant.
- Laughter is the best medicine.
- Laughter is still the best medicine.
- Against laughter nothing can stand.
- Laugh out your problems.
- Laughter is the greatest safety valve.
If a good laugh clears the air for the person who laughs, it may also do the same between the people bringing them back to a feeling of stability and normality after tensions have been aroused. Feelings of hatred, bitterness or malice may be instantly dispelled by a well-directed gale of laughter. Laughter is an interacting social phenomenon which invariably exercises a humanizing effect upon all who practise or enjoy it. It is beyond doubt the happiest convulsion which people can summon back again and again as long as sanity prevails.
A smile is a fundamental means of human communication. It helps to preserve a sense of proportion.
Perhaps, the most civilised and mature form of humour is that known to all leaders of men and in improving interpersonal relations. Management by humour is a new approach to the art of human relations. It is the humour which can be used to detense people in order to tide them over difficult or awkward moments and act as a catalyst in motivating people.
People still fear too much for their dignity. There are families where children are brought up to believe that laughter is impolite. Consideration for time, place and people should be given but spontaneous laughter among friends, colleagues and equals is most welcome. Unless laughter is loud enough to be audible to others, it cannot do the maximum good either to the person who laughs or who listens to him or her. In circumstances where a loud laughter will be out of place, a grin, a smile and even a subdued laugh will be of great benefit in relaxing the atmosphere as well the individual.
Laughter is the pleasantest infection in the world and one should be able to share it with others. Most of the good magazines publish jokes or humorous articles to tickle their readers. Laughing clubs have been formed at places, laughing loudly with raised hands in yoga classes for only three times helps a lot in deep breathing and de-stressing.
Many times, there are occasions when one may laugh in private at his own follies. People who cannot laugh at themselves usually take themselves too seriously, or may suffer from a sense of inadequacy which made them refuse to admit that they can be foolish or wrong. No man can ever distinguish himself who could not bear to be laughed at. Those who laugh well, are more sensible and sympathetic than those who show stiff, sad, unsmiling faces and dogged expressions. To be unable to explode spontaneously into rich laughter will be a serious and lasting disability. The man or woman who cannot laugh spontaneously rarely makes a good member of a community.
Do not get upset by a personal joke if it does hit you below the belt. It is better to laugh it out. If possible, turn the joke towards you so that it gives a feeling of laughing at yourself. The situation will be eased. Even a light joke hitting below the belt is always in bad taste and should not be attempted by anyone. It may lead to animosity even between best friends.
One who can laugh is more carefree than others. Laughter is a good indication of good health. A really sick person rarely laughs. Those who can take things lightly in difficult situations lessen their own hardships and those of others around them. However, there are certain dos and don’ts for laughing.
- Laugh when you can.
- Look for an opportunity to laugh.
- Laugh out your troubles.
- Join others in their laughter.
- Do not laugh at others.
- Do not laugh at others’ cost.
- Do not laugh artificially.
- Do not laugh inappropriately.