Every person laughs several times a day for different reasons – after hearing a joke, watching a comedy movie or reading a comic book. Humor is one of the important senses that human being is blessed with. Laughing expresses a feeling of happiness.
Humor and laughter are contagious and they cause a cumulative effect of amusement and joy. In addition, they offer a number of positive health benefits.
Laughing is not just related to facial expressions, but it causes a number of chemical changes within the body. Good hearty laughter helps release enzymes and hormones that are helpful for normal functioning of various organs.
This is due to a connection between laughing and stimulation of brain and different glands. Laughter enhances the body to release natural antihistamines.
It also activates T-cells, a natural anti-biotic produced in the body. It helps boost the immune system and fight infections. It prevents numerous diseases by strengthening the immune system.
(A day is lost if one has not laughed.)
Life isn’t about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself, and one of the best ways to create yourself is through laughter. Laughter comes in all kinds of packages, obvious ones and the unexpected ones, and a day without laughter is a day wasted.
Out of the mouths of babes…
I was testing the children in my Sunday school class to see if they understood the concept of getting to heaven. I asked them, “If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale and gave all my money to the church, Would that get me into Heaven?”
“NO!” the children answered.
“If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy, would that get me into Heaven?”
Again, the answer was, ‘NO!’ By now I was starting to smile. Hey, this was fun!
“Well, then, if I were kind to animals and gave candy to all the children, and loved my husband, would that get me into Heaven?” I asked them again.
Again, they all answered, “NO!”
I was just bursting with pride for them.
“Well,'”I continued, “then how can I get into Heaven?”
A five-year-old boy shouted out, “YOU GOTTA BE DEAD!”
On average, children laugh 400 times a day, while adults laugh about 15 times. Why the gap? Did we lose something? Have we forgotten the way we used to be? Why is it that children seem to cope with life’s oddities better than adults? Perhaps it’s because they do not fully understand.
But I think it’s simpler than that—they laugh. As we grow older, we get far too serious. Watch children play. They don’t need expensive toys to entertain them. Everything is fun. They are spontaneous.
Only when we become adults do we start to get boring. Do we need to cultivate a different attitude? Humor is in the way we see things, the way we think. It’s an attitude, not an event. Perhaps the key lies in becoming more childlike.
Years ago I saw through my kitchen window a grown man playing with his children in a sand pile at a small neighborhood park. He was right down there on his hands and knees in the sand, building an imaginary town with streets, cars, trucks, trees, houses, stores, and schools.
I could see the father pushing a wooden block bulldozer through the sand, pretending to build a road. He even made the sound effects of the bulldozer engine. I remember thinking, “Now there is an example of a great dad who knows how to play with his children.”
He was in plain view to every passing car. Was he embarrassed or ruffled? Not at all.
He seemed oblivious to the people passing by. Does this mean we should play in the sand pile with our children? Absolutely. Laugh more, play more, swing out of familiar places, be more the way you were when you were a child.
(“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” – E. E. Cummings)
Everyone Should Create Opportunities to Laugh…here are some ways to do this……
- Watch a funny movie or TV show.
- Go to a comedy club.
- Read the funny pages.
- Seek out funny people.
- Share a good joke or a funny story.
- Check out your bookstore’s humor section.
- Host game night with friends.
- Play with a pet.
- Go to a “laughter yoga” class.
- Goof around with children.
- Do something silly.
- Make time for fun activities (e.g. bowling, miniature golfing, karaoke).
Laughter and play are closely related. Play puts everyone on an equal footing, first by the nature of play itself, and second because you can change the rules to fit the situation. Play brings families together. It is a subtle tool for interaction and talk. It builds confidence because you can modify the rules to bring about success or any outcome you desire. Our inhibitions are minimized, and our real personalities emerge. Through play we develop relationships naturally. We tend to like people we have fun with. Play allows us to use our minds and break out of familiar molds. It allows us to explore more.
The Humor Cure
A demonstration of laughter’s splendid power lies in the experience of Saranne Rothberg, a single mother from New Jersey who was diagnosed five years ago, at age 35, with advanced breast cancer. At the time, she was struggling through a contentious divorce and had a 5-year-old daughter, Lauriel, to keep safe and happy. Would she have the strength to parent?
Would she even survive? From the doctor’s office, Saranne went right to the video store and rented every comedy video on the shelves. The next morning, thanks to Bill Cosby, et al., she put aside her considerable tears and enlisted her daughter and friends as “humor buddies” to tell her funny stories every day.
So unshakably passionate was Saranne about the goodness of laughter that during the grueling course of three surgeries, 44 radiation treatments and two years of immune-weakening chemotherapy, she founded a charity, the Comedy Cures Foundation, to bring humor strategies to others. Through it all, Saranne worked on the foundation, cared for Lauriel and, of course, laughed. “I was around illness all the time,” she recalls, “but I never even got a cold.
It was as though my cancerous breast and I laughed and turned stress and disease on its head. We laughed and moved on.” Today she is cancer free. “I learned that whatever happens, you have a choice,” she says. “Choosing to laugh puts you in control.”
Though not everyone experiences such a turnaround, Saranne’s triumph over illness hardly surprises Dr. Kuhn, who runs humor-therapy groups for cancer patients and is himself a part-time stand-up comic. “Laughter is there precisely for the purpose of keeping our balance when we get knocked off,” he says. “It helps counteract things we would otherwise have no control over.”
You Must Keep Smiling
A favorite motto of The Happiness Project is, “The most wasted day of all is a day in which we have not laughed”. Whole-hearted laughter is a re-creation, a celebration, a creative impulse that encourages us to take the moment playfully.
Laughter can transform an ordinary moment into something extraordinary; it can energize us and optimize us; it can conjure up a blessing from any burden.
Above all, the spirit of laughter beckons us to live fully, now, this moment, today. I will leave you now with five prescriptions, collectively called S.M.I.L.E., which are designed to encourage you to make today a little more enjoyable than you initially thought it was going to be.
– S is for smile – donate a smile to a worthwhile cause today! Make an effort to be more friendly today, just for the fun of it. Keep smiling – it triggers curiosity!
– M is for making mayonnaise, or any other dressing that turns something dull into something delightful! In other words, don’t wait for happiness to happen, make it happen. Take an ordinary moment and make it extraordinary. Some pursue happiness – others create it!
– I is for impulse, innovation and the irregular. A brand new day is an opportunity to try a brand new way. Change a perception, alter a belief, entertain a new thought, communicate differently, act adventurously. “Each day the world is born anew / For him who takes it lightly,” wrote James Russell Lowell.
– L is for the greatest dose of medicine of all: love. Let someone know that you love them today.
– E is for enjoyment. When was the last time you went out to play? Indulge yourself, invest in yourself – give yourself something to smile about.
Laughter can help you feel better about yourself and the world around you. Laughter can be a natural diversion. When you laugh, no other thought comes to mind.
Laughing can also induce physical changes in the body. After laughing for only a few minutes, you may feel better for hours.
It may seem futile to laugh in the face of pain and fear, but studies show that laughter, with its saving way of shifting perspective, is a broad-spectrum analgesic, a balm for both physical and psychological wounds.
When Dan Rather interviewed comedian Bill Cosby, just one week after his son, Ennis, was killed, Cosby said: “I think it’s time for me to tell people that we have to laugh. You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything, you can survive it.”
Call it a flashlight for dark times: Laughter just seems to adjust attitude better than anything else. Inspirational speaker Steve Rizzo recalls a TV interview with an injured firefighter a few days after 9/11. The man had fallen more than 30 stories in one of the towers and had a broken leg. Everyone was crying, and the reporter asked, “How is it that you’ve come out of this alive?”
He looked at her and without missing a beat, said, “Look, lady, I’m from New York and I’m a fire-fighter; that’s all you need to know.”
“Everyone laughed and though the laughter was only a couple of seconds,” says Rizzo, “some-times that’s all you need to catch your second wind. Laughter gives you that couple of seconds. You’re sending a message to your brain, and the message is: If you can still laugh even a little amid the pain and chaos, you’re going to be OK.”
Of course, there’s a difference between laughing off a serious situation and laughing off the fear that results. The firefighter was doing the latter, states Rizzo, the author of Becoming a Humor Being, and so should we.
“If there’s anything we learned from 9/11, it’s how precious life really is,” he says. “We have to send a message that our spirit won’t die. One important thing that unites us is our ability to laugh.
It actually takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile. A genuine smile does wonders for the person smiling, and the person receiving it. A good hearty laugh is contagious and infectious, in a good way. It has often been said that laughter is the best medicine–so go ahead and laugh. Laughter is the way to remind ourselves that we are very much alive.
Laughter positively affects many aspects of your life, including your health, well-being and energy, leading to a healthy, quality life. So always smile, it improves your face value too.
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