Top 10 Reasons to Laugh Until it Hurts

smile“The art of medicine consists of keeping the patient amused while nature heals the disease.”
~Voltaire

After that quote I don’t think I need to say much.  Laughing feels good and releases tension, your body likes it, bacteria and viruses don’t (because with laughter your little white blood cells become absolutely ruthless), it’s a nice ice-breaker and quite simply makes the day better.

Top 10 reasons to laugh (and laugh now)

  1. Lower blood pressure. Initially upon laughing, blood pressure increases, but then falls below normal levels and as breathing deepens blood becomes more oxygen and nutrient rich.1,2
  2. Strengthen immune system. Laughter increases the number of natural killer cells that like to eat viruses for breakfast, as well as certain cancer cells.  Antibodies are also increased (immunoglobulin A), which is especially helpful for respiratory infections.  2,3
  3. Reduce stress, irritation, depression and anger. Ok, so those were 4 reasons.  Add anxiety and grief to those as well.  In short, laughter changes our biochemical state significantly by decreasing stress hormones, relaxing muscles and upping antibodies that fight infection.2,3 Here are 15 more tips to manage daily stress.
  4. Connect socially. People are drawn to happy people.  No one wants a sour-puss.  Living is challenging enough without someone frowning and whining in your face.  And if you have something to laugh about, (yourself for example), people will naturally want to laugh with you.   
  5. Workout for the lazy. Or busy.  Or gym fanatics.  Anyone, really.  Laughter not just works out the abs, but also works on the facial, leg, back, diaphragm and respiratory muscles. 4
  6. Reduce pain. Laughter releases endorphins which are more potent than morphine and reduce the feeling of pain. 4

  7. …and laugh at yourself.

  8. You’ll make yourself more approachable and human to others.
  9. Gain control. You’ll take away the opportunity of others to make fun of you.
  10. Take things lightly.  You won’t take yourself so seriously and realize that everyone stumbles.  And really, most of the time the situation is minor and not as earth-shattering as it appears.
  11. Change your perspective.  You’ll see things from a different perspective, which may offer a solution or new way of thinking.  It’s all in the way one looks at a situation.  Look at it with humor and you’ll gain a healthy control over it.

A quick observation about laughing at yourself.  This is healthy to a certain extent.  But don’t start to make fun of yourself to the point of self-degradation.  Always love and respect yourself.  Humans make mistakes.  Don’t be mean-spirited or overly sarcastic with your mistakes.

Stuck in a bad or complex situation?

So you’re in a sticky, crappy, frustrating, etc. situation.  Try to laugh it off.  Even if it appears one thing after another is going wrong – that’s something to laugh at too.  Things have to get better eventually, and the sooner you start laughing and taking things lightly, the sooner they’ll get better.  And sometimes one cannot change a situation.  By laughing at it you make it appear less serious and regain control over it.  It is not the situation that is making life tough – it’s how you react to it.

Feel generally angry or frustrated?

You can’t exactly yell or scream in public.  Pity, yeah. Throwing the chair across the restaurant is also impolite.  So laugh! Even if you don’t feel it, let out a deep belly laugh and you’ll notice the anger start to melt.  It’s socially acceptable and healthy for you.

Understand not everyone’s sense of humor is alike

Just met someone new?  Wait until they make a joke, or laugh about something you did or you experienced.  Preferably not X-rated.  And preferably not aimed at a certain individual or group of people.  Also, adjust your laughing to the situation: a cocktail party and a funeral are two different situations.

Earth laughs in flowers.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Jazz it up with more humor

  • Watch more comedies, read more funny books or comics.  Even if you’ve seen it before, or it’s not that funny, laugh anyway.  The body can’t distinguish between real and fake laughter.
  • Hang out with people that laugh and are happy. Avoid those that complain all the time. Yes, it’s hard if you’ve been acquainted for a while, but understand they are suppressing your immune system and adding indirect stress to your life.  If you feel strong enough, you can try to help them overcome their negative thought patterns.
  • Create a collection of jokes, humorous stories, movies, and pictures and save all in a folder.  Take it out once a week or anytime you need a laugh.
  • Laugh at the little things. Pay attention to commonplace, mundane occurrences and find absurdities and silliness in them.  Trust me, they’re not that hard to find.  Especially at the office.
  • Look at children and babies. They can laugh at the most ordinary things.  Often they seem to laugh simply because they are happy to be alive.  Learn from them.  You used to be like that.
  • Turn off the TV! Unless it’s funny, inspiring or positive.  But avoid the news or shows and movies that are upsetting, frightening or negative.
  • Laughter clubs. There’s a fascinating growing trend called laughter yoga out there.  Laughter yoga consists of laughter exercises and yoga breathing and is usually practiced in groups.
  • Laughter allows for a healthy mind, body and spirit.  There are loads of things to laugh at and many ways to bring humor into the day.  So laugh!  And remember…it is your choice how to react.

    A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.

    ~Irish Proverb

    1 University Of Maryland Medical Center (2005, March 19). University Of Maryland School Of Medicine Study Shows Laughter Helps Blood
    2 Bennett MP, Zeller JM, Rosenberg L, et al. The effect of mirthful laughter on stress and natural killer cell activity. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 2003;9:38-45
    3 Lee Berk, Dr.P.H., M.P.H. & Stanley Tan, M.D. Ph.D. (1996) “The Laughter – Immune Connection
    4 Dr. William F. Fry, Standford University, Dr. Marvin E. Herring, New Jersey’s School of Osteopathic Medicine NYT April 7, 1988

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    Axinja

    I created this site because I believe in the individual - in you, to have the power to change your health. Your holistic health. It's usually easiest to start with the body. But without developing the mind and spirit, one's perspective and outlook on life and oneself, the body will keep on breaking. All three are linked. Love your body and being, they really deserves it. I have a passion for researching the latest in mind/body medicine, and have done so for years. I quit a full time job at a large corporation to devote myself to this. I update this blog regularly, so keep checking back. Do send me a note (namaste8@gmail.com), I will be happy to receive your comments.

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