For a long time people have been fascinated with laughter. Studies have been made to figure out why we laugh, what makes babies laugh and why we laugh when we are nervous. However, there is no grey around the fact that laughter is a universal connection that is both recognised and shared by all.
The interesting study of laughter and the effects it has on the body is called Gelotology. This psychological and physiological field of study was pioneered by William F Fry of Stanford university. Have you ever been curious to why television shows play a laughter track after an intended funny moment? Even when we do not see or resonate with where the source of laughter has come from, simply hearing laughter can be contagious. Research suggests that we laugh up to 30 times more when in the company of others. When people say laughter is contagious – maybe they are right?
Below are some of the many benefits of laughter;
- It boosts the immune system in a healthy and hearty way. Laughing improves the body’s natural defence mechanism by increasing the amount of immunoglobulins and T cells in the body.
- Laughing expands the inner walls of the arteries which increases the ability of blood to flow around the body, and, this positive effect lasts for up to 45 minutes once the laughter has dissipated
- Laughing instantly reduces the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine and dopamine, and increases the production of serotonin and endorphins
- Laughter can create instant bonds between individuals. The release of oxytocin occurs while laughing. Often called the empathy hormone, oxytocin helps bond individuals and collectives.
However (and most importantly) studies have discovered that laughing shortly upon waking can have similar effects to drinking a cup of COFFEE! Put it to the test, next time you are fortunate enough to laugh while still in your pyjamas (or not) notice your energy levels, notice how refreshed and uplifted you feel. Does it remind you of coffee??!!
It is true that in human’s laughter, is our most basic emotional responses, we aren’t taught to laugh or even to smile; they’re as natural to us as breathing. The average person laughs around 13 times per day. Surprisingly very few of those times are due to a joke or an intentional action, more often we chuckle at chance happenings or unexpected occurrences. Regular and wholehearted laughter alleviates mental and emotional disturbance, hence why in this day and age “Laughter Therapy” exists.
Along with increasing your longevity, attracting joy and releasing negativity, laughter is by all means a fun workout! When you laugh you are strengthening muscles in your face, stomach and diaphragm – for every fifteen minutes of solid full body laughing you are burning (on average) 40 calories!
Nonetheless all fun facts aside, laughter can be fireworks of the soul. One of the best feelings is laughing with someone and realising half way through how much one enjoys them and their existence.
Therefore, laugh as hard and as often as possible. Watch comedies, read funny books. Share funny stories. Invest in comedians and create your own comedy whenever and wherever possible. Surround yourself with funny people. It will lift your spirits, reduce your stress, and boost your energy.
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