Laughter is an instant vacation, so says Milton Berle. There is no question that laughter has the power to instantly relax the body and mind. A good guffaw triggers the release of ‘feel-good’ endorphins and relieves physical and mental tension and stress. Laughter is such a good medicine that some experts have designed laughter therapy to help improve the quality of life for patients with chronic illnesses.
There is plenty of research showing that laughter almost rivals exercise when it comes to health and brain-boosting benefits. According to a study by Dr. Lee Berk of Loma University Medical Centre, cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the blood reduced rapidly after research subjects watched an hour-long comedy. Berk’s research also found that the level of disease-fighting immunoglobulins (which attack virus and tumor cells) is boosted by laughter.
Another research done by a cardiologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center measured subject’s blood flow as they watched ‘There’s Something About Mary’ and found that laughter boosts circulation about as much as a treadmill session. Researchers at the University of Michigan also found that just 20 seconds of laughter could be as good for the lungs as three minutes spent on a rowing machine.
Beyond the physical benefits, laughter also makes you have a positive outlook on life, even when the going is difficult. It also improves job performance, especially in jobs which require creativity and complex solutions. Hoots and giggles also play a key part in relationships – so much that some researchers consider that the major purpose of laughter is to connect people.
A good guffaw makes you feel better, boosts your brainpower and improves blood flow. So there, go ahead and laugh!
Everyone has an innate ability to use laughter. Babies begin smiling during the first weeks of their life and within months, start laughing out loud. But because of life’s stress, many people have little sense of humor left. If you are one of them, don’t worry, it is easy to start hooting with genuine laughter and eliciting the same in others. This is how:
Start with a smile: A smile is the beginning of laughter. And just like laughter, it is contagious. If someone says something even mildly entertaining, you see something pleasing, or someone makes eye contact, try smiling.
Don’t take yourself too seriously: Seriously, it’s never that serious! Laugh at yourself, especially for embarrassing moments and about times you took yourself too seriously.
Find the humor in situations: Instead of moaning about potentially stressful situations like matatu rides, traffic, and office drama, look for the humor in the situation. Life’s situations can be ironical, absurd and hilarious.
Spend time with funny people: Ditch Debbie Downer friends and start hanging out with people who are funny and playful. They will infect you with their sense of humor and positive outlook.
Be grateful: Make a gratitude list to remind you of all the things you appreciate in your life. This will distance you from negative thoughts and help you laugh more.