Laughter decreases stress hormones, increases immune cells and infection fighting anti-bodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. Laughter is good for your cardiovascular system and improves breathing. It further triggers the release of endorphins which promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain. A sound case for laughter I say.
In 2011 researchers exposed 79 participants over a 3 month long period to either music or laughter therapy. Immediately after the sessions, the blood pressure readings from the laughers lowered by 7mmHg. In comparison, music therapy only reduced blood pressure by 6mmHg.
After 3 months, the blood pressure of the laughers showed an overall decrease of 5mmHg and by comparison the people in the control group showed no change in blood pressure readings.
Further research conducted by Dr Robin Dunbar reveals that laughter not only plays an important role in social and non-verbal communication, but it also provides qualities that protect us from physical and physiological pain.
Laughter seems to have some long term benefits after all.
Sure, it’s fun to laugh alone as you read that message on your device, but did you know that laughing with others is even more powerful. It draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. As children, we used to laugh hundreds of times a day, but as adults, life tends to be more serious and laughter more infrequent.
Laughing together can greatly improve cooperation and empathy between people of different cultural backgrounds. It fosters better communication, which leads to a less confrontational approach in tense situations. It further plays a role in moving a team from individual competitiveness to team cooperation. So laughter is a great corporate team-building tool as well, and its free. A great investment case.
The english comedian John Cleese said, “I am struck by how laughter connects you with people. Its almost impossible to maintain any kind of distance, any sense of social hierarchy when you are just howling with laughter. Laughter is a force for democracy.”
Laughter is usually a key indicator of family vitality and healthy couples.
When last did you share a tear-rolling, belly roaring laugh with someone else in the room?
The advent of social media has myriad advantages, including this blog you reading. It does, however, have a number of disadvantages we should not ignore in the long term. Most of us laugh alone far more than we laugh with a group of people and we cannot disregard what this may be doing to our social behavioural patterns and hence our sense of well being.
We all know how someone else’s laughter can trigger your own until you are laughing uncontrollably. Often you are not even sure why. Laughing on your own does not have this element of socially triggered laughter, no-one with whom to share your joy.
Have levels of depression not been on the increase? Specifically with the younger generation. Is social isolation not high on the list of reasons our children reach out to strangers on the web? Could bringing more laughter, with others, play a role in some of the challenges our society faces?
Humans are designed as social beings and laughter is unique to humans. Laughter plays a role in group bonding and is a key part of highly social beings. In a context where we are increasingly isolated, whether it be personally or professionally, we need to give some thought to the impact laughter has on our overall well-being, both emotionally and physically.
Our increasing societal levels of anger, frustration and resentment can be tempered by simply having a laugh. Most of the time the things that take our joy away are not the things that truly matter at the end of the day. Are you seriously going to remember the taxi that frustrated you and stole your joy on Monday the 21st of January 2019 when you are 75?
Maybe we should stop taking ourselves so seriously. Give yourself permission to laugh, often. Life is short and laughter colours the road we travel together. Laughing at yourself is a great start to bringing more joy into your life.
You may say that laughing alone is better than not laughing at all. True, but as long as you are laughing, you may want to try connecting with others for a good old fashioned, straight from the belly, shared laugh.
Just for a giggle:
“I almost forgot to update my status that I had been to the gym. What a waste of a workout that would have been”!
“When I was a kid, my social media network was called “outside”.
“Hey twitter was down this morning. Could you please tell me what you had for breakfast?”