Stop what you’re doing! It’s time for a laugh!

It’s so much fun sharing a good laugh, isn’t it? It can even improve your health.

Laughter is strong stuff. It draws people together in a way that triggers both emotional and physical changes in our bodies. It strengthens the immune system, lessens pain, boosts your mood, and protects you from stress.

As a kid, I laughed all the time. Life was so much fun. As an adult, life is so much more serious, and I find I’m just not laughing enough.

What I have found, is that you need to actively seek out more opportunities for laughter, and once you see these positive affects humor can have on your life, I bet you’ll be running to the nearest comedy club.

5 Things laughter can do for you
  1. Reduce stress
When you laugh, your muscles contract and this increases oxygenation and blood flow. In turn, your heart and lungs are stimulated, and we get a release of endorphins. Studies on laughter tell us that sharing a laugh with others releases those homegrown chemicals that help us feel so good (the endorphins) through opioid receptors. The more receptors you have in your brain, the more potent the effect. In fact, the suggestion is that laughter alone can induce a euphoria a little similar to a narcotic, minus the drawbacks.
  1. Increase resilience
Medicine makes you stronger and healthier. So does laughter.

Resilience is the ability to see failure as natural rather than as a negative outcome to something. Overall, resilient people are happier and even more successful.

Being able to recognize and acknowledge mistakes without getting frustrated or angry is a big part of developing resilience. Laughing at the mistakes you make helps you realize that making errors is all part of being human.
  1. Forms social bonds
The endorphin effect I described above explains exactly why social laughter is highly contagious. When we share a laugh, we spread endorphin releases through the group, promoting a sense of safety and togetherness. Every person’s brain in the social group is a transmitter of those endorphins, which triggers even more good feels and even more laughter. That’s pretty much why when your buddy starts laughing, you laugh, too, even if you’re not really sure what he’s laughing at!
  1. Laughter solidifies relationships
One study has shown us that women tend to laugh over 120% more than men, yet men seem to instigate laughter more often. What’s interesting is that effect that has on how relationships are formed and maintained. Typically, women agree that a sense of humor is an important trait in a potential mate. Men, on the other hand, rate women who laugh a lot (as in laugh at their jokes) rather high on their checklist. So, it’s not really a surprise that couples who constantly laugh together have high-quality relationships.
  1. Laughter is a pain reliever
People who laugh don’t actually experience less pain, but they’re a lot less bothered by it. It’s not about pain levels, really. The amount of pain doesn’t change. But the perceived levels of pain and the belief that you can cope rise.

Now that you can see just how good laughter is for you, here are my tips on how to laugh more.

Bring more laughter to your life
  • Share laughs with your buddies. Spend time with people you find fun.
  • Make humor a top priority when watching a comedy, listening to a comedian, or reading a funny book.
  • Know when something isn’t funny. It’s never okay to laugh at the expense of someone else. Be careful with your humor and laugh with people, not at them.
  • Life is funny. Remember that. The ability to laugh at yourself makes you attractive to other people and can be a big stress reliever. Find laughable moments in your day, share funny stories with your co-workers, and simply work to increase the power of laughter with everyone around you.
  • Try laughter yoga and really get the belly muscles jiggling.
Even in today’s rough and tumble world, there is plenty to laugh about. Your ability to laugh can be cultivated with plenty of practice. The trick is to start prioritizing fun right now.

Find time to be silly and share the joy!

 

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