The sounds people make when something strikes them as funny are kind of odd and perhaps even bizarre. Sometimes the snorts that constitute a spontaneous explosion of mirth are a science, as researchers indicate. Psychologists believe a good belly laugh involves far more than a simple side effect for amusement. Why does laughing until you hurt feel so good? Maybe it feels so good because it’s inherently physical and an intense engagement that involves both your body and mind. Some people “giggle” when uncomfortable to mask embarrassment in an awkward situation. It has been said by writer Sam Thomas Davies, that a nervous laugh is often a physiological release of negative emotions like anxiety, confusion, discomfort or stress that a person feels in a social situation.
The healthy side of busting a gut has physiological reasons why this is good for you. It stimulates your organs by forcing you to inhale more oxygen that works your lungs and heart muscles, increases your endorphins (the feel good brain chemicals) that give your body a feeling of lightness, revs up your circulation and helps your blood vessels work better, and gives you a psychological “bazinkle” to reduce your anxiety level to help you relax. Laughter boosts your immune system and releases neuropeptides that help combat stress and potentially, disease.
Research shows that you’re 30 times more likely to laugh in a social setting than when you are by yourself. What makes us laugh is universal, as the same things seem to crack us up. Laughter is a very recognizable sound and when someone with a different language finds something amusing and laughs, we know what it means.
Laughing helps you learn and boosts dopamine. It helps to facilitate your capacity to learn new things, especially for children. It also helps to ensure they’re in an emotionally healthy and safe environment.
Your laughter can actually benefit the people who happen to hear you chuckling and laughing it up. Studies have been performed to measure participants’ short-term memory and stress levels. They were divided into two groups. One group got to watch funny videos and the other was asked to sit quietly without talking or interacting with each other. They had no books, TV or cell phones. Saliva was taken after 20 minutes of those in both groups. The group watching the funny videos had significantly better results and much lower levels of cortisol (stress hormone), determining that laughter is good medicine.
“The bottom line is, learn to laugh, it starves the pain!”
A good sense of humor can be developed with the proper perspective. Some simple exercises are not to take things too seriously, spend more time with people who make you laugh and aren’t afraid to laugh at themselves and never make others part of your laughter therapy. Determining what’s appropriately funny will never include making someone else feel bad.
One of the long-term benefits you get from laughter includes pain relief, simply because pain thresholds rise when endorphin levels increase. They always say, laughter is the best medicine! That includes for pain, too, that can trigger endorphin release through laughter that helps you recover from disease while allowing the body to resist infection.
– Dr Fredda Branyon