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Laughter is No Joke!

14 Dec Laughter is No Joke!

I take a certain amount of pride in not having to take any daily medications. The other day, I was talking to a friend and we started to laugh about an experience that she had and was sharing with me. We laughed so hard that I cried. It felt so good! We need to laugh more often; we agreed! Who doesn’t love a good laugh? I certainly do! The past couple of weeks were challenging. Between the election, Thanksgiving and the stresses of the remainder of the holiday season still to come, we need to keep our sense of humor and remember to laugh. It is said that “laughter is the best medicine,” and if it is, then I say, bring it on and give me a daily dose!

In our busy, over-committed world, the critical importance of laughter seems to get lost in the shuffle. Most of us don’t laugh enough. After crying, laughter is the major communicative milestone in human development evolving from a tiny baby’s giggle into an essential social tool. Think of the many ways we try to convey laughter in text-based media through emoji or LOLs!

Some researchers have said that noises from infants as young as 17 days old may be the preliminary vocal signs of laughter. However, the weight of evidence supports its appearance at about 4 months of age. Across the planet, there are many languages and countless dialects, but everybody, every culture, speaks laughter in pretty much the same way. Ultimately, laughter is part of the human vocabulary.

Laughter, in fact, begins as a physical reaction in all humans and even in some primates. The mechanism consists typically of rhythmical, often audible, contractions of the diaphragm and other parts of the respiratory system. As we know, humans laugh in response to certain internal or external stimuli and can arise from activities like being tickled or from jokes or just funny thoughts.

In fact, laughter is a seriously complex response! It is capable of conveying meaning more effectively than words and may be used to make other people feel really good or conversely belittled. While laughing most often provides visual confirmation of a positive emotional state such as happiness or joy, sometimes laughter stems from conflicting feelings like embarrassment or confusion. As a social tool, laughter is learned, possibly signifying being part of a group or acceptance and a positive interaction with another. We are 30 times more likely to laugh when we are with other people, not only at jokes: we sometimes laugh at statements that don’t seem overtly humorous. Laughing is truly a form of communication and not simply a reaction. We can let people know that we understand them or that we like them through laughter.

Laughter also allows us to harmlessly release negative emotions that may otherwise remain bottled-up. It is cathartic. Learning to laugh helps people cope with difficult and uncomfortable situations. Laughter is perhaps the greatest stress reliever, prescribed by many doctors. Laughing gives your muscles a full-scale workout and unleashes a surge of anxiety-bashing endorphins. It is a stress-reducer, immunity-booster and heart helper. The benefits of laughter are amazing; both physically and mentally.

Benefits of Laughter 

  • Laughter reduces pain and allows us to tolerate discomfort.
  • Laughter establishes or restores a positive emotional climate between two people. It increases connection.
  • Laughter is the glue of strong marriages. It synchronizes the brains of the speaker and the listener so they are emotionally attuned.
  • Laughter boosts mood and confidence. Learning to laugh at yourself will help you to move through life’s difficulties with more ease.
  • Laughter improves job performance especially if work depends on creativity or solving complex problems.
  • Laughter reduces blood pressure and improves blood flow. This will reduce the odds of suffering a stroke or a heart attack.
  • Laughter boosts immunity. It can reduce killer blood cells that cause illnesses.
  • Laughter burns calories. It is true, but don’t go skipping your work-out!

 

How to Laugh More

  • Make humor a priority by reading a funny book, watching a comedy or listening to comedians.
  • Share laughter with friends and surround yourself with funny people.
  • Develop your own sense of humor.

 

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU HAD A GOOD LAUGH?

If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane. – Robert Frost

Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. – Victor Borge

Article by Patti Sayre, Psychotherapist, L.C.S.W

We are fortunate, at Montclare, to have had Patti join us for a number of parenting workshops! A Licensed Social Worker and Certified School Psychologist, Patti brings a unique and special combination of knowledge, education and 30 years of professional experience working with individuals, couples and families.