From The Mind Unleashed, October 11, 2015
“Laughter is part of the human survival kit.” – Comedian David Nathan
Whether its Larry, Mo and Curly that tickle your funny bone or watching George Carlin, Amy Shumer, and Chris Rock standup on Youtube, there’s nothing like a fit of laughter to make this crazy world better – but there’s more. Your body, mind, and heart will benefit from that giggle-fit, too. Here are ten reasons to laugh however you may – fart jokes are not out of the question:
Laughter Cures Illness Faster. Hunter Campbell, M.D., the American physician whose life inspired the 1998 movie “Patch Adams,” took laughter therapy to a new level. He opened a free, full-scale hospital that actually used laughter as medicine, and it worked! It relieved tension and the fight or flight response of his patients, many of whom were in constant pain. If laughter can do that for patients in a hospital what do you think it can do for you?
Laughter Makes You Look Younger. Why is it that in those pictures of the laughing Buddha you’ve seen, he always looks so timeless? The secret is in the laughter. Having a big-belly laugh brings blood flow to the face. You also use as many as 15 different muscles to smile, so your cheek muscles get a little exercise. Your eyes light up. There is nothing more youthful and appealing than laughter, no matter your age.
Laughter Boosts Your Immune System. Every time you laugh, your T-cells get a little boost. These are the ‘fighter’ cells of your immune system that eradicate things like colds and the flu. It isn’t just a stuffy nose that laughter helps, though. Researchers published a study in the journal, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, which said that laughter may reduce stress and increase natural killer cell levels, a type of white blood cell that attacks cancer cells.
Laughter Lowers Four Hormones that Cause Stress. Researchers have deduced that ‘mirthful’ laughter causes the lowering of Cortisol, epinephrine, dopac, and growthhormone. These biochemical changes have implications for the reversal of the neuroendocrine and classical stress hormone response.
Laughter Protects the Heart. Scientists from the University of Maryland Medical Center found that people with heart disease were 40% less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease.
Laughter Helps Regulate Blood Sugar Levels. Japanese researcher Keiko Hayashi, PhD, RN, et al., published findings that laughter lowered the increase in the rise of two-hour post-prandial blood glucose (PPBG) in people with diabetes. The research subjects attended a lecture after eating a meal on the first day and their PPBG rose on average 6.8 mmol/L. The participants then attended a comedy show after eating the identical meal. The two-hour PPBG rose on average only 4.3 mmol/L. Hayashi and the researchers concluded that laughter decreased the PPBG and suggested “the importance of daily opportunities for laughter in patients with diabetes.” 87087986875
Even Anticipating a Laugh Can Lower Our Stress Response. In research conducted by Dr. Lee Berk, two hormones – beta-endorphins (the family of chemicals that alleviates depression) and human growth hormone (HGH; which helps with immunity) – increased by 27 and 87 percent respectively when volunteers anticipated watching a humorous video. There was no such increase among the control group who did not anticipate watching a humorous film used in the study to elicit laughter.
Laughing Makes You Smarter. It’s true that laughing like a hyena can make your brain work better. This simple act stimulates both right and left hemispheres of the brain igniting creativity. It opens the mind (and therefore the heart0 to new ideas and experiences. It also makes us better at problem-solving allows us to be more efficient at daily tasks. Sure beats writing a million to-do lists. In one study participants who simply watched a comedy performed better on a test where they had to answer some questions right after engaging in a little hilarity. They scored 25% better than those who hadn’t just watched mirth-making on film. They even scored better than those who did light exercise right before taking the same test questions. Apparently comedy is mental exercise.
Laughter Makes the Not So Funny Better – We all fall on hard times. It turns out that laughing more frequently during stressful times can make even the most burdensome day better. It seems laughter builds confidence in our abilities to handle difficult situations and people, and if we can just find a little humor in the worst situation, we can usually also find a better solution to a problem, or face seemingly dire circumstances with more levity.
Laughter Brings People Together – Nothing buries old resentments,makes light of someone’s worst faults or helps us to see things with levity than laughter. In social situations that are normally tense and ripe for arguments, laughter can cut through. It can make crusty old meanies smile, and grouchy little ones more inclined to listen. All of us in between – we get to enjoy each other more with a little laughter.
(Warning this video contains a LOT of explicit, but hilarious, language.)
Featured image copyright: Naman Imagery, Fine Art America