Laughter--The More, the Better
A laugh a day may keep the doctor away. Humor is good medicine. Research has shown many benefits of laughter. It helps keep our mind and body healthy. It relaxes our muscles and increases circulation. Laughter increases the oxygen level in our blood and lowers blood pressure. It also boosts the immune system. Infections are less likely to strike if we are laughing.
Laughter is a form of release. It rids our body of stressful emotions and reduces the level of stress hormones. Think of a time when you had a good belly laugh. Was your whole body engaged? Laughter can be a total body experience, much like exercise.
According to Doctor Pam Schiller, laughter has two stages. One is the arousal phase that increases the heart rate. The other is the resolution phase that allows the heart to rest. She says, “Laughing gives the diaphragm, abdomen, respiratory system and facial muscles a complete workout.”
The benefits of laughter can also been seen in the brain. Research tells us that humor stimulates parts of the brain known as reward centers. These reward centers release endorphins that combat pain and create a natural high. The brain feels rewarded by finding something funny.
Laughter and humor are two powerful tools. Learn to laugh at yourself. Don’t worry or analyze why people laugh—just join in! Think funny thoughts. Sing silly songs. Read some funny jokes such as, “Why are basketball players sloppy eaters? Because they always dribble.” “What has more lives than a cat? A frog—it croaks every night!”
A smile is the first step toward laughter. Smile often. Look in the mirror and smile at yourself. Smile at your coworkers. Smile at your spouse or with your children. Smile at strangers on the street. Smile at friends that you meet. Remember, the day will go the way the corners of your mouth turn!