Laughter really is the best medicine! It’s time to discuss the benefits of giggling and how we can all be a little happier by simply sharing a smile.

Oh the fine art of laughter! How dull our lives would be without it. Whether you enjoy the occasional silent grin between friends, the odd snort to yourself or even a hearty, booming cackle in a crowd full of people, there just seems to be a magical quality to laughter that always fills our aching bellies (induced by laughter) with glee.

But it’s not just happiness that a good old chuckle can give us. Did you know that laughter really is one of the best, natural medicines around? Indeed, laughter is one of the greatest healing mechanisms at our instant disposal, and it can have some immense benefits for our own health and wellbeing, as well as that of others! Laughter can help us to connect; it can help us with our physical health as well as our mental health; it can even positively influence our relationships and enhance our careers. In fact, laughter can influence every single aspect of our lives for the better.

Want to know more? Well then read on! But be warned, this article may cause some readers to feel the need to laugh at every moment possible from here on out, and may even cause happiness levels to soar!

What’s Behind a Laugh?

I’ve always loved a good laugh. For the most part, the sound of laughter is the indication of the joy and happiness of those around me, and is a sign that you’re part of good company and energy. I also know that when I laugh it’s usually catching. A laugh can pass on from person to person until you’re all blue in the face with no idea what’s going on or why it even began; because that’s the joy of laughter. It’s pure bliss that needs to be nurtured and shared.

You see laughter, at a most basic level, is a social bonding tool that brings us all closer together and pops us all up onto the same level of conscious thought and energy. Laughing is our body’s natural reaction to something funny and curious; a happy event, a moment of wistful recollection, a damn good joke. And while sometimes we may also laugh out of politeness or social awkwardness, we can still get a general feel of the positive emotional vibe that it’s attached to. Remember, even forced laughter is good laughter!

But that euphoric feeling you get from laughing isn’t just there for nothing, you know. It’s all part of that mysterious chemistry cocktail that works behind the scenes. You see, every time we feel elation through laughing we’re getting a huge rush of stress-busting endorphins (your body’s natural painkiller), which double up as a great way to help calm down the physical effects of stress (many believe that human’s developed a funny side simply to help us combat stress). So basically, that happy feeling we get is our bodies’ way of telling us, “Hey, this feels great. Keep it up!” As Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychologist, describes it - laughter and positive emotional wellbeing are all part of the ‘upward spiral’ that help us achieve improved well-being, better health and a longer life. So, I think it’s about time we took the steps to laugh ourselves happy!

Don’t just simply take my word for it though. There’s a plethora of scientific evidence to help back up the power of laughter. From increasing our tolerance of pain, reducing our risk of respiratory infections, to even helping us all get a better night’s sleep; laughter is a cure for all. Considered the father of ‘gelotology’, (that’s the science of laughter to you and me), Dr William Fry first began examining the physiological effects of laughter in the late 1960’s. His initial research indicated the above benefits, and stemmed the beginning of further research into the science and benefits of a good giggle, and even how it could be used as a treatment.

That Funny Thing Called Laughter Therapy

Perhaps one of the biggest names in laughter today is Dr Madan Kataria. No, he is not a comedian, but instead the man who developed the holistic laughter therapy known as Laughter Yoga. Having clinically studied laughter from the early 70’s, Kataria is credited as the person who finally brought laughter into the mainstream. You see, Madan Kataria was the man who discovered that the body may not actually have the best sense of humour, after all. It just so happens that our body cannot tell the difference between a good joke or a bad one, or even if there was a joke told in the first place. This discovery, that our bodies cannot differentiate between acted laughter and forced laughter, caused a stir in Kataria’s mind and he soon created his first range of laughter exercises and role-plays, which then developed into the form of group work we see today. Laughter Yoga was born. And so too was the concept of therapy through laughter as a whole.

What If There Isn’t a Funny Bone in My Body?

The great thing with laughter therapy is that anybody can do it. So long as you know what a laugh should sound like, then you’ve pretty much got the only tool you need to begin your hysterical journey into the funny bone development program. Laughter therapy is suitable for everyone, from every walk of life. Remember, laughter is a social bonder. The more you do it the more connected to the people around you, you may become.

Of course, laughing at inappropriate times in an attempt to decrease your stress levels may not always be the most socially acceptable thing to do. So bearing that in mind, here’s a short list of laughter do’s and don’ts that should help you on your merry way to laughter bliss!

DON’T let others rain on your laughter parade

You are the company you keep. While it might not be totally appropriate to laugh during a boardroom meeting, remember that outside formal environments you should strive to be around the people who make you happy. If you are naturally happier around people, then laughter should flow more naturally and become easier. Happiness goes hand in hand with laughter. So find your social bubble and get happy!

DO make eye contact

Yes, eye contact can sure be scary sometimes, but as long as you don’t go overboard and delve deep into someone’s soul at first glance, then eye contact can be a good thing. Especially when laughing! Eye contact triggers our mirror neurones, which is why infectious laughter is a thing!

DON’T suppress laughter

Again, while you should always judge by the situation you’re in, try and make sure that you make the effort to actually laugh out loud! I know that I have often suppressed a laugh or two in my time, but a little part of me always felt a little bit sadder because of it. But you know what, stop suppressing yourself. If you want to laugh, do it! Laugh like no one’s watching!     

DO laugh longer

“He-he-he-ha-ha-ha-ho-ho-ho!”... Or so goes one of the exercises from Laughter Yoga. Laughter is best when it’s drawn out and booming! So why not try extending the length and volume of your laugh next time you see a funny cat video online? The louder and more powerful the laugh, the heartier and healthier the experience!

 

So there you have it! Who knew laughter could be so much fun? Do you have any handy tips you wish to share about laughter or how it has improved your life? If so, leave us a comment below!

 

 

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