You’re not Laughing enough. Laughter is a sign of goodwill toward others. The average four-year-old laughs 300 times a day. The average 40-years-old? Only four.
Laughter is an involuntary impulse. It is a psycho-physiological reflex, a successive, rhythmic, spasmodic expiration with open glottis and vibration of the vocal cords often accompanied by a baring of teeth and facial grimaces.
Although laughter is something that we don’t ever really think about doing, it still requires a lot of our brain, lungs, and muscles.
Laughter may be Unique to Humans
Humans and apes both like a laugh and their giggles may have a common origin. It is likely that great apes use laughter sounds to interact in similar ways to humans.
Chimpanzees and gorillas show laughter-like vocalizations in response to physical contact such as wrestling, play chasing or tickling. This behavior is documented in wild and captive chimpanzees.
Chimpanzee laughter is not readily recognizable to humans as such, because it is generated by alternating inhalations and exhalations that sound more like breathing and panting.
Laughter Improves Communication
We live in a society that tends to isolate and divide people. Laughter promotes person-to-person bonding.
Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert.
It also helps you release anger and forgive sooner.
Laughing together can greatly improve cooperation and empathy between people of different cultural backgrounds. It fosters better communication.
Voluntary simulated laughter, in particular, is most beneficial for very socially and culturally diverse groups thanks to its universal and inclusive nature, because it means that they can all join in and develop a sense of belonging.
People, whether male or female, laughed more readily in response to a male speaker. It is up to 30 times easier to laugh in a group than on your own.
Laughter is usually an indicator of family vitality and healthy couples. Laughter is very attractive at the interpersonal level, especially for women.
Men use much more humor and laughter when it comes to discussing sensitive health issues. They also prefer women who laugh at their wit.
In women, laughter would be more associated with greater social support in relationships and as a tool to cope with stress. They tend to prefer a man with a sense of humor.
Laughter is the Best Medicine
Humor-associated laughter has numerous health benefits.
Despite inconclusive evidence, the idea that laughter has positive health benefits has been attributed to changes in musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, endocrine, immunological and/or neural systems such as reduced muscle tension, increased oxygenation of the blood, exercising of the heart and endorphins production.
More specific effects of laughter include improved postprandial glucose transfer in the presence of insufficient insulin action in type 2 diabetic patients and cardioprotection.
Laughter draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. It boosts mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress.
Laughter reduces levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine, and dopamine; increases health-enhancing hormones (such as endorphins), neurotransmitters, and infection-fighting antibodies; and improves blood flow to the heart—all resulting in greater relaxation and resistance to disease, as well as improved mood and positive outlook.
Laughter therapy has also been shown to improve anxiety in patients with Parkinson’s disease, reduce anxiety and depression in nursing students, and improve optimism, self-esteem, and depression in menopausal women.
In patients with schizophrenia, humor and laughter intervention reduced hostility and depression/anxiety scores; improved activation scores and social support; lowered the levels of psychopathology; and improved social competence.
Laughter may Reduce your Blood Pressure.
Hypertension is one of the most dangerous side effects of stress, as well as a huge risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
It’s the quickest way to lower your blood pressure without lifting a finger. Just watch something funny.
Research shows that laughter and humor could help lower systolic blood pressure — the top number — by about 10 points in just 20 minutes.
How does laughter reach all the way into your insides and lower your blood pressure? It’s all about stress hormones. When your funny bone is tickled, it reduces levels of stress hormones related to climbing blood pressure.
The success of laughter studies on blood pressure and other ills has led to a unique kind of treatment known as “laughter yoga. “Laughter Yoga is a new form of exercise akin to internal jogging that promotes the use of laughter as a form of physical exercise.
Its core premise is that your body can and knows how to laugh, regardless of what your mind has to say.
Because it follows a body-mind approach to laughter, participants do not need to have a sense of humor, know jokes, or even be happy. The invitation is to “laugh for no reason“, faking it until it becomes real.
Laughter is an Immune Booster
Laughing is an easy way to strengthen all immune functions, bring more oxygen to the body and brain, foster positive feelings and improve interpersonal skills. Laughter boosts the immune system.
Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
T-cells are specialized immune system cells just waiting in your body for activation. When you laugh, you activate T-cells that immediately begin to help you fight off sickness.
Next time you feel a cold coming on; add chuckling to your illness prevention plan.
When you laugh, the diaphragm becomes a powerful pump for your lymphatic circulation, much like your heart serves as the central pump that propels blood through your blood vessels.
This assists the lymphatic vessels in carrying this fluid through your body and helps your lymph nodes to clean and filter this fluid, removing waste products, dead cells, and even unwanted microorganisms.
Maintaining clean body fluids is important because these are necessary for you to be at your best.
Increased lymphatic flow = an elevated, improved immune system just by the simple nature of more lymph flowing through the nodes, thus producing more lymphocytes and antibodies.
Laughter Triggers the Release of Endorphins
Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers. By laughing, you can release endorphins, which can help ease chronic pain and make you feel good all over.
Endorphins are natural pain and stress fighters. Endorphins are among the brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which function to transmit electrical signals within the nervous system.
At least 20 types of endorphins have been demonstrated in humans. Endorphins can be found in the pituitary gland, in other parts of the brain, or distributed throughout the nervous system.
Stress and pain are the two most common factors leading to the release of endorphins. In addition to decreased feelings of pain, secretion of endorphins leads to feelings of euphoria, modulation of appetite and enhancement of the immune response.
Engaging the diaphragm with any type of deep breathing (laughter included) immediately engages the parasympathetic nervous system.
The parasympathetic nervous system signals all body systems to slow down, thus producing “feel good” hormones (endorphins) that signal stress hormones to cool it.
Once that signal is received, blood pressure drops, heart rate slows and an overall glow of “happiness at the moment” replaces anxiety/stress – the perfect “domino effect”.
Laughter Burns Calories
It’s no replacement for going to the gym, but one study found that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn approximately 40 calories—which could be enough to lose three or four pounds over the course of a year.
Tips for More Laughter in Your Life
Smiling is the beginning of laughter, and like laughter, it’s contagious. Don’t go a day without laughing.
Think of it like exercise or breakfast and make a conscious effort to find something each day that makes you laugh. Set aside 10 to 15 minutes and do something that amuses you. The more you get used to laughing each day, the less effort you’ll have to make.
Count your blessings. Literally, make a list. The simple act of considering the positive aspects of your life will distance you from negative thoughts that block humor and laughter. When you hear laughter, move toward it.
Spend time with fun, playful people. Bring humor into conversations. Watch a funny movie, TV show, or YouTube video. Invite friends or co-workers out to a comedy club. Read the funny pages. Share a good joke or a funny story. Goof around with children. Make time for fun activities.
Choose to laugh whenever you can. Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up. Keep a toy on your desk or in your car. Put up a funny poster in your office. Choose a computer screensaver that makes you laugh.
Frame photos of you and your family or friends having fun. Remember funny things that happen. Try to avoid negative people and don’t dwell on news stories, entertainment, or conversations that make you sad or unhappy.