Some years back a certain beverage industry came up with a slogan: (their product) – it does a body good. Now there has been some controversy over the years as to whether or not that particular beverage was good for the body, and it is not the purpose of this blog post to decide one way or the other. The one thing I can say for sure, though, is there is something that always does a body good, and that is laughter. We can even safely say that laughter not only does the body good, it does the mind and the spirit good as well.
Do you ever watch children play together? If you watch them long enough, you will always see them laugh. Children don’t hold back. They laugh up to three hundred times a day! Did you know that adults average only a meager seventeen laughs a day, and that number continues to decrease.
Every day we need to be sure we make some time for laughter. With all the madness and the sadness the media wants us to find in our every day lives, we need to focus on the good things around us. Life really isn’t as bad as they say on the news, it isn’t the awful downhill spiral your grumpy neighbor talks about, and it isn’t as sad as Aunt Gladys wants you to believe it is. Step back from all these false messages and look around you. Find the humor. Find the cuteness. Listen to a silly joke. Wherever you decide to find laughter, be sure to do it every day.
“Laughter is a bodily exercise, precious to health.” Aristotle
You may not realize it but there are many health benefits of laughter. The Mayo Clinic says this about laughter:
“A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but data is mounting about the positive things laughter can do.
“Short-term benefits – A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:
- “Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
- “Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
- “Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
- “Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. By contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
- “Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.
- “Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
- “Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier.”
One other great health benefit of laughter is that it is a good workout for those of us who don’t really enjoy going to the gym regularly. Did you ever laugh so hard your stomach hurt? That’s because you are working those abs!
“With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die.” Abraham Lincoln
Do you ever get overwhelmed by all you have to do every single day? Does it ever seem like your schedule is just so full there is no time for anything else? That’s when you need to take a laughter break. I know this sounds weird, but you can use take a few minutes and laugh for no particular reason. Your body doesn’t care why you are laughing, you will still get all the health benefits we mentioned in the previous section and your feelings of overwhelm will decrease.
“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” Charles Dickens
When my sons were young they would love to start a laughter chain. They would start with a small little laugh and let it gradually build. It became so contagious that everyone in their space would eventually be laughing along with them. Now that sounds like a really great talent to have, and I suppose it is, but as a mom it did cause some embarrassment when they would decide to start their laughter chain in a nice restaurant, or somewhere you were supposed to “behave responsibly.”
Looking back at it now, those times were some of the best we had together. Even though there were times I wanted to hide under the table, today I wouldn’t trade those days for anything. When you and those you love can share laughter, you are also making good memories and stronger relationships.
“When you awaken love and laughter in your life, your mind lets go of fear and anxiety, and your happy spirit becomes the healing balm that transforms every aspect of your human experience.” Jesse Dylan
Laughter boosts your mood, diminishes your pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. Every aspect of your life can be enhanced with a good laugh every day.
“Laughter is the key to youth.” Karen Madewell
Laughter can also help you look younger. Did you know it requires as many as fifteen muscles to squeeze facial muscles into a smile? Did you ever laugh so much your face hurt? That’s because you are working those muscles. It has been shown that laughing helps increase the blood flow around the face, helping you look and feel younger.
Combining the workout for your facial muscles, the great ab workout, the increase in the “feel good” hormones and the over all lightness of spirit, you can’t help but look, act , and feel younger.
“Laughter is timeless.” Walt Disney
Walt Disney’s full quote actually said, “Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, dreams are forever.” That pretty much sums it up, Laughter will always be with us. It starts when we are children, and if we are blessed, it will last until the day we leave this earth.
So as we said at the beginning – Laughter – it does a body good. Make it a point to laugh more often each and every day.
Find your purpose – find your joy!