Someone once told me while I was in the midst of a difficult situation, if there’s the slightest chance you might look back on this some day and laugh about it, start laughing now. Granted, this doesn’t work every time, but it sure has helped me get through some tough times. Seeing the lighter side is a perceptual shift. And just like other positive emotions that can change the way we see something, laughing has a lot of other benefits.
Studies on humor and laughter from Duke University, Loma Linda University, UCLA, and even from other countries such as Great Britain have shown:
- Laughing helps relax tense muscles.
- Laughter reduces the production of stress hormones.
- Laughter and a positive attitude strengthen the immune system.
- Laughter allows a person to ‘forget’ about aches and pains and perceive pain as less intense.
- A good laugh is like an aerobic workout for the heart and lungs–increasing the body’s ability to use oxygen.
- Laughter helps lower high blood pressure.
- There are no known negative side effects to laughter.
Laughing is part of the human experience. New research shows that “circuits” for laughter exist in very ancient regions of the human brain. Robert Provine, a psychology professor at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, tells us, ” (Laughter’s) origin is in tickling and rough-and-tumble play. Laughter is literally the sound of play… (which becomes) the human ‘ha-ha.’ (1)
Maybe that’s why children laugh over 300 times a day. It’s natural. Surprise, surprise: That number falls to 15 with adults. Unlike children who laugh unconditionally, we adults wait to find cause. Which brings up another one of those which-came-first conundrums: Do we grow old because we stop laughing? Or, do we lose our ability to laugh because we grow up?
Whatever, laughter not only feels good, it’s good for us.
Stay young…and healthy. Add more laughter to your day!
(1) Animals Laughed Long Before Humans, Study Says – NationalGeographic.com