I have long been a fan of the Reader’s Digest “Laughter, the Best Medicine” column and often suspected that laughter was good for me. After all, I was raised on the mantra “the family that laughs together, stays together” and my family possesses a long list of “in” jokes that require nothing more than a catch phrase to crack up the whole clan.
However, now my suspicion that laughter is good for me can actually be backed up by scientific evidence.
Humor can improve memory. This would explain why so many advertisers spend a great deal of time and money on funny ads and gimmicks. It might also explain why so many of our favorite teachers also happened to be funny. We were learning while we laughed and it didn’t hurt a bit!
Humor can also help us be more creative. Often humor makes us look at ourselves or our world in a slightly different way which can be both enlightening and challenging to our brains. If amused we are more likely to open our minds up and think outside the box.
Laughter is a great way to relieve stress. We know there are many other ways but laughter is socially acceptable in most situations. Laughing actually reduces levels of certain stress hormones. It provides a safe release for the flow of stress hormones and the fight-or-flight compounds that come into action in times of trouble or anger.
Laughter can also make you healthier by boosting your immune system. Unbelievably, when you are laughing, natural killer cells that destroy tumors and viruses increase and brings balance to all the components of the immune system. In addition, laughing can also provide a pretty good aerobic workout. Still more healthful benefits of laughter include lowering your blood pressure, increasing vascular blood flow, and increasing oxygenation of the blood which enables the body to carry on healing activities for itself.
Shared laughter promotes bonding and unity between and among people. Co-workers who laugh together and families that share a common bond of humor also work more cohesively and overcome difficulty more effectively. Laughter and humor can also open the door for the sharing of ideas and emotions. Many people feel more comfortable communicating thoughts and concerns while the mood of the group is happy and relaxed.
Finally, there is the simple truth that laughter can be a great antidote to depression and unhappiness. While laughter cannot heal chemical imbalances it can help lift your mood and spirits. Often a good laugh will not only jog you out of your gloomy mood it may also jog your creative impulse and help you find a solution to the cause of your unhappiness.
Instead of being gloomy and frustrated because there is no perceived solution, laughing lifts you up out of your pool of problems and places you on solid ground where you can gain some new insights. Under conditions of happiness it is much easier to think creatively around a problem than when your mind is filled with thoughts of helplessness or worthlessness.
Did you know the average person laughs 17 times a day? Are you above or below average? Perhaps you need to spend more time with funny people or maybe you just need to open yourself to the humor of life around you. Bring more laughter into your life and reap the benefits of improved memory, increased creativity, decreased stress, improved health and stronger relationships.