Over the years scientific research has shown the awesome benefits of humor and laughter to health and relationships. Thanks to laughter, you can live a happier, healthier life for no extra cost.
People are under high levels of stress due to job loss, economic crisis, difficult relationships, health problems, etc. The negative emotions accompanying stress and physiological changes triggered by stress are often the primary causes of many health problems. To maintain good physical and mental health it is critical to manage your emotions. Humor and laughter are excellent tools you can use to help keep your emotions in balance and you out of the doctor’s office. Laughter is medicine that is fun, free, and fantastic!
Harvey Mindess, a clinical psychologist, says humor is “indispensable to our welfare.” Welfare is defined as our health, happiness, and fortune.
Laughter Benefits Your Physical Health
Laughter expert Paul E. McGhee, PhD in Psychology, in his book, Humor: The Lighter Path to Resilience and Health, says existing research suggests humor and laughter promote physical health by:
- Relieving your pain
- Relieving stress
- Reducing risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke
- Reducing diabetic glucose and renin levels
- Relaxing muscles
- Providing good exercise for your body
McGhee states one of the primary reasons for those benefits is that: “Humor activates dopamine-based pleasure centers in the brain.” Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that induces feelings of pleasure and makes you feel so good.
People who have more positive emotion in their lives have increased resistance to the common cold and reduced inflammatory response to stress. Since laughter can replace negative emotions with a positive emotion, it is likely your health can benefit from chuckling.
McGhee says humor and laughter have been shown to improve the health of people with coronary heart disease, cancer, diabetes, asthma, and certain allergies. Many cancer patients believe humor and laughter lengthened their life. Studies have shown that 50% of cancer patients used humor and 21% of a group of breast cancer patients used humor or laughter therapy to cope with the disease.
Laughter Supports and Improves Your Mental Health
The body’s healing system works better with positive emotions and responds negatively to negative emotions. Studies show humor boosts the level of positive emotion experienced and simultaneously reduces negative emotion. Therefore, humor is highly valuable for helping you cope with life’s hard times. McGhee states: “New measures that do make this distinction [between positive and negative forms of humor] have shown positive forms of humor to be associated with higher levels of optimism, hope, happiness, self-esteem and interpersonal competence—and lower levels of depression and anxiety”. This website contains detail information on how laughter provides the following mental and emotional benefits:
Statistically, children laugh about 300 times a day and are generally much happier. However, the average adult only laughs about 19 times per day. Research at Stanford by Fry and Provine supports the psychological benefits of laughing and of creating situations in your life where you can reconnect with the child in you. So go ahead, laugh like you did when you were a kid! Here’s how to bring more laughter into your life.
Laughter Provides Great Social Benefits
Scientific studies show laughter benefits people socially by:
The sound of uproarious laughter is very contagious and we are drawn to those laughing like we are to a piece of cake. Hearing someone guffaw creates a strong desire to be included in the fun and experience the pleasure of laughing. A giggle is understandable in any language. When we laugh, we tell others one or more of the following: “I am happy.”, “I am friendly.”, “I am playful.”, “I am attracted to you.”, “I am fun to be around.” When we share a laugh with someone, we are giving our time to bring joy into their life. The laugh you share may be just what a person needs at that moment to help them forget about their troubles. By giving the gift of laughter to someone, you create a bond with that person that may grow to a friendship or endear you more to a friend or loved one. Give the gift of laughter. Share a joke, funny story, funny video, etc. and make yourself and others feel good today.
You have an opportunity to share one of the funniest things that have happened to you with the world by clicking the link in this sentence. People will have a chance to rate your funny event with one to five stars. Go ahead, it will be fun to see how people rate your funny.
Statistics show a good sense of humor is sexy and attractive. Prospective dating partners and married couples prefer a mate with a sense of humor. You can become sexier by applying time-tested techniques taught in this absolutely FREE eREPORT, “How to Make People Laugh and Like You Instantly“. To obtain that eReport, click that report’s title. If you want to know why and how a good sense of humor is sexy, read Laughter is Sexy and Attracts Others to Us. Laughter has also been shown to be a key ingredient in healthy marriages. To learn how laughter can help you have a happy marriage, read Laughter – Essential for Healthy Marriages.
Dr. Kenneth Pelletier, author of Mind is Healer, Mind as Slayer, said “the only two activities that create total brain symmetry are laughter and orgasms.” Perhaps that explains why both are so satisfying, exhilarating, and health promoting. My research has shown, in many ways, How a Belly Laugh is Like an Orgasm.
No doubt you have noticed you feel better after a genuine chuckle than when you fake it. Some people believe that when you fake laughter or are around fake laughter long enough, you experience genuine laughter. When discussing the health benefits of laughter, it may be important to distinguish between Duchenne (genuine) and non-Duchenne (fake, contrived) laughter. Research shows people are not fooled by fake laughter nor does fake laughter provide the health benefits of genuine laughter.
According to a study by Michael Titze, a Psychologist, in the 1950’s, people used to laugh an average of 18 minutes a day. Today, that number has dropped to 4 to 6 minutes a day. What accounts for this change? Perhaps the reason is we are under greater stress and are much busier. Bottom line: We are too serious! I urge you to invest some time in doing things that make you laugh today. You will be greatly rewarded.
For people having a serious cardiovascular health problem, WebMd states the following caution: “Laughter may interrupt breathing and may trigger cardiac arrest. Ask your doctor if laughing is right for you.”
In this article, you have seen scientific proof of the benefits of humor and laughter to personal health and relationships. You have learned about the mental, physical, and social benefits of humor and laughter. From all this evidence, you can conclude that humor and laughter will make you healthier and happier. This is my sincere wish for you! After reading this article, I think you will agree with the old saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Take a healthy dose of it today.
Keep watching this website for ways on how to make yourself healthier and happier, and for ways to improve your relationships.
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Martin, R.A. (2010). The Psychology of Humor: An Integrative Approach, Waltham: Academic Press
McGhee, P.E. (2010). HUMOR – The Lighter Path to Resilience and Health, Bloomington: AuthorHouse, xxv
McGhee (2010), 214
McGhee (2010), 5
Provine, R.R. (2000) Laughter: A Scientific Investigation. New York: Penguin.
Mindess, H. (2011) Laughter and Liberation, (1971). Wokingham: Nash Publishing Corporation
Pelletier, K.R. (1977). Mind Is Healer, Mind As Slayer, New York: Dell Publishing Co.
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Second photo: Copyright / freeimage.com