Have you laughed today? Did you know that globally we are laughing much less than we used to in the last century? What are the benefits of laughter and why should we be laughing more?
The International Congress of Humor reports that laughter is down is some areas up to 82% from the 1950’s. In the 1950’s, people laughed on the average 18 minutes a day and today the average is only between 4-6 minutes a day. We are much more serious than we used to be! Part of the reason for this may be because electronic media such as, television, computer, Internet, video, CD’s, and audio equipment, has reduced our social interactions and laughter is a social activity.
In fact, laughter usually occurs in groups and some believe uncontrollable laughter only occurs in groups. Try to laugh out loud right now. Do you find it difficult or forced? Most people would find it feels forced and a little unnatural because laughter is involuntary and almost impossible to fake.
Laughter happens more naturally in social interactions. Laughter builds relationships, creating camaraderie and lessening our sense of isolation. In groups when some are laughing and others are not, it becomes evident that people have very different senses of humor. A sense of humor is the ability to be amused and laughter is the physiological response to humor. While many believe a sense of humor cannot be taught, it can be developed by paying attention to what others find amusing.
Why would we want more laughter in our lives? As a physiological response, laughter has many health benefits. When someone laughs, all of the body systems are engaged. Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones, including cortisol, epinephrine, adrenaline, dopamine, and growth hormone, and increases the level of healthy hormones like endorphins and neurotransmitters. As a result of these physiological activities, laughter may help fight off illnesses and diseases like heart failure. After a good laugh, stress reduction occurs when overall good feelings, happiness, and deep relaxation are generated.
In addition to the health benefits, people who laugh a lot don’t worry as much as those who don’t laugh. A laughter break can help us gain fresh perspectives and new insights about our problems and conflicts.
Laughter, like crying, can provide an excellent physical and emotional release. Laughter can also make us feel happy and create a more positive state of mind by breaking the painful emotional grip of fear, anger, guilt, stress, and boredom.
Be a friend to yourself and enjoy the many emotional and physical benefits of laughter and humor. Lighten up and, for the greatest benefits, share a laugh with others!