OK, so it may be somewhat of a cliche but there is real truth in the statement “Laughter is the best medicine“. So when was the last time you had a side-splitting, eye-watering, head-thrown back dose of this good ol’ drug?
The benefits of laughter are immense, ranging from physical and mental wellness, emotional resilience, and relationship building. A good chuckle not only feels good in the moment but it nurtures the soul and is positively life-affirming. In fact it has been suggested that laughing regularly increases our life expectancy. So what are all of the health advantages that we can expect from a chortling?
According to Helpguide (Helpguide.org):
- Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
- Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
- Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
- Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
But if all of those spin-off gains aren’t enough to get you choosing a comedy over a horror film, there is another significant gain to be had from sharing a joke or two. We know that laughing is a direct expression of our mood or our state of being. When we find something funny, it is a natural spontaneous reaction. But did you know it works the other way too? So even if you aren’t feeling happy, laughing (even if you are faking at first) changes your physiology, releases those all important endorphins and thus changes your mood, and pretty rapidly too!
Moreover, your state directly affects the mood of people around you. Any teacher will tell you that giggles in a classroom are completely contagious and extremely difficult to put a stop too. So why is that important to know? Because all behaviour flows from our state of being, the way you make people feel will directly impact how they treat you. So if you accidentally trigger people around you into feelings of happiness and upliftment, then you will just have to take responsibility for all of the lovely reciprocal actions that come back your way!
Ready to introduce some more happiness into your life? Here are some ways in which you can get the laughter flowing:
- Google “comedy clubs” in your local area. Many pubs have comedy nights and there are places (like the Comedy Club in Manchester or London) that are dedicated to hosting some of the best comedians. Grab a couple of friends and get a ticket— and if you are feeling really brave you could even sit on the front row!
- Ask people to share their best joke. It is a great ice-breaker and builds instant rapport (remember to laugh even if it’s not funny!) Here is my favourite joke of all time to get you started: “Why do divers fall backwards out of the boat?” Answer: “Because if they fell forwards, they would be inside the boat!”
- Set an intention to find something funny in the world today. It’s amazing how powerful this technique is. Once we filter our experience for reasons to laugh, more reasons seem to automatically show up!
So however you choose to get your fix, it is worth finding as many ways as you can to see the funny side of life. Laugh your way to great health and vitality! And to get you started, watch the video below. Clear evidence of the infectious nature of laughter… I dare you not to catch the bug!