Ever notice how a good laugh can go a long way in changing the way everything looks? After a less than stellar day last week, I happened upon one of my favorite comedians on social media. I started off giggling and before I knew it, I was in full-out, belly laugh mode. Afterwards, I realized two things: it had been a while since I’d had a really good laugh; and I needed to find ways to do it more often.
After my comedy respite, the heavy energy of the day was lifted. I felt refreshed and revitalized. The issues swirling around in my head no longer seemed so serious. Little did I realize that taking that time out to laugh would turn out to be so therapeutic!
Laughter offers a wide array of benefits. In addition to being a huge mood lifter, the Mayo Clinic’s website notes that laughter fosters positive social connections, and strengthens our resilience to cope with difficult situations. The website also states that a good laugh offers loads of physical benefits, including stimulation of the lungs, heart, and other muscles. The increased heart rate and blood pressure that laughter brings about leads to calmer, more relaxed feelings, according to the website, so it’s a proven stress/tension buster. The Mayo Clinic website notes that the health benefits of laughter also include a strengthened immune system and increased endorphins – hormones which can act as natural painkillers in the body.
American political journalist, author, professor, and world peace activist, Norman Cousins, famously put the ‘laughter is the best medicine’ philosophy to the test years ago. When faced with a crippling disease, Cousins, set out to cure himself by watching a steady stream of the funniest films he could find. His goal was to laugh himself back to health, and he did just that – which, in turn, inspired a number of research studies on the connection between laughter, happiness and good health.
So I encourage you to keep in mind that good health can be a laughing matter. Going forward, I’m determined to bring more laughter into my life by fitting in regular laughter “workouts” wherever I can, and I hope you’ll do the same. For a good laugh, get together with friends who tickle your funny bone, pick up books by Tina Fey or Amy Poehler; watch funny feature films; discover YouTube videos featuring your favorite comedians; or watch programs like America’s Funniest Home Videos. There’s even Laughter Yoga! It’s all about connecting with that child-like spirit of fun.
If we’re looking for more opportunities to laugh, we’re sure to find them. In the words of Dr. Seuss “From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!”