You’ve heard it before …. laughter is the best medicine. But did you know that incorporating humor into your everyday life has powerful beneficial effects on your long-term health?? Seriously! As if you needed an excuse to let off some steam and laugh every day.
Far Side Cartoon, by Gary Larson
See below for the exciting benefits that humor brings to your physical and mental health. And, for good measure, I’m including a few things to make you chuckle.
How laughing benefits your body:
- Laughter boosts your immune system: Laughter decreases the production of stress hormones, and boosts the activity of immune cells and production of antibodies – making you less prone to illness.
- Laughter makes you feel good and decreases pain. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s “feel good” chemicals that enhance your overall sense of happiness and well-being. Endorphins which are released as a result of humor can also temporarily ease pain!
- Laughter relaxes your entire body. A good laugh relaxes your muscles and relieves stress.
- Laughter improves your cardiovascular health. Laughter enhances blood flow and improves the functioning of your blood vessels. Over the long-term, this may add up to much better cardiovascular health!
How laughing benefits your mind:
- Laughter reduces anxiety and fear. When you’re laughing, it’s almost impossible to feel anxious, afraid or worried. Humor helps us find a new perspective on things.
- Laughter relieves stress and boosts energy. Laughter reduces the production of stress hormones and provides a quick energy boost, which improves your ability to be productive and accomplish more.
- Laughter enhances your mood and increases resilience. In the short-term, humor helps to lift our mood from negative to positive. Longer-term, humor helps us get through tough times by reducing our tendency to feel threatened and worried/anxious. This is because humor helps us get a new perspective on things, increasing our ability to thrive in the face of stress.
Far Side Cartoon, by Gary Larson
How laughing benefits your relationships and social life:
- Laughter strengthens your relationships. Couples and families who laugh together tend to have stronger, longer-lasting relationships. A sense of playfulness is essential for any healthy, positive long-term relationship.
- Laughter makes you more attractive. When you smile or laugh, you are automatically judged as more attractive by other people. They are more interested in interacting with you and getting to know you.
- Laughter helps us be more open and less defensive. Humor helps remind us that we aren’t perfect, and shouldn’t be expected to be perfect. When we laugh at ourselves or at situations, we remember that we don’t have to be a slave to self-criticism, other people’s judgements, and self-doubts.
- Laughter makes you more fun to be around. Humor helps diffuse conflict, decreases inhibitions (because it reduces the fear of failure), and improves spontaneity.
Calvin & Hobbes Cartoon, by Bill Watterson
So what can you do to start laughing more??
- Start smiling more. There’s a classic psychology experiment that shows when people are forced to smile, they actually feel happier! In other words, the physical act of smiling tricks your mind into feeling happy.
- Spend time with funny, playful people. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have “play time” … even as adults! Cultivate relationships with friends and loved ones who you can be genuinely silly with. These people should also help you learn to laugh at yourself in a loving manner.
- Bring humor into your life by introducing it into conversations (appropriately), by going to see funny movies or comedy shows, or by reading funny books. In other words, start bringing humor into your life in any way you can. You may be surprised to discover how “serious” your life has gotten as an adult!
- Learn to laugh at yourself and at life situations. We have a tendency to bemoan work, family obligations, and relationships. We also have a tendency to try and hide our embarrassing moments. Instead, celebrate them and try to laugh at them — and see how much happier you feel!
- Discover your inner child. Spend some time around children and remember what it’s like to act silly! Children enjoy humor, and use it a lot. Spending time with them encourages you to discover your own silly, fun self.
Finally, lighten up!! If you are tempted to get down on yourself about a situation, ask yourself the following questions:
- If I were a stand-up comedian, what would I find funny about this situation? What kinds of jokes would I make about it?
- Is it really worth getting upset over? Is it worth upsetting others about?
- Is it that important? Will I care about it, or remember it, 6 months from now? A week from now? An hour from now?
- Is it really my problem??
Until next time … enjoy this post I saw today on Facebook:
Make life more interesting for the people around you. Things you could start doing at Target:
- Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.
- Leave a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the women’s restroom.
- Walk up to an employee and tell her in an official voice, ‘Code 3 in Housewares. Get on it right away’.
- Go to the Service Desk and try to put a bag of M&Ms on layaway.
- If a clerk asks to help you, begin crying and scream, ‘Why can’t you people just leave me alone?!’
- Look right into the security camera and use it as a mirror to pick your nose.
- While handling guns in the hunting department, ask the clerk where the antidepressants are.
- Dart around the store suspiciously while loudly humming the ‘Mission Impossible’ theme.
- When an announcement comes over the loud speaker, assumed the fetal position and screamed ‘OH NO! IT’S THOSE VOICES AGAIN!’
- Hide in a clothing rack and when people browse through, yell ‘PICK ME! PICK ME!’
Now if that doesn’t make you laugh, I don’t know what will.
Until next time …