Sometimes You Just Have To Laugh
Laughter can relieve stress
It’s not a cure-all yet there is plenty of positive data about the health benefits of laughter.
However, there is no clear-cut understanding of humor and precisely what makes us laugh.
Personally, I support the idea that laughter may have evolved as a way to enhance connections in our communities.
Research at the University of Maryland, USA, showed in Current Directions in Psychological Science, that people laugh 30 times more in the company of others than they do alone.
Although there are plenty of other studies and theories worthy of support, it is worth noting that humor and laughter are not as closely related as we might think.
Humor does not always make us laugh. Some things might seem amusing but do not always lead to laughter.
So how many psychologists does it take to explain what exactly makes us laugh?
It turns out that the answer is many.
My mind wandered for a few moments, and I wondered if there was a collective noun to describe a group of psychologists.
- An analysis of psychologists
- A mirror of psychologists (lots of reflecting!)
- An evidence-base of psychologists
Joking aside, seeking a unified theory of humor is debated.
“It is presumptuous to think about cracking the secret of humor with a unified theory” argued psychologist, Giovannantonio Forabosco.
“We understand many aspects of it, and now the neurosciences are helping to clarify important issues. But as for its essence, it’s like saying, ‘Let’s define the essence of love’. We can study it from many different angles; we can measure the effect of the sight of the beloved on a lover’s heart rate. But that doesn’t explain love. It’s the same with humor. In fact, I always refer to it by describing it, never by defining it”.
Whatever the current theories, I guess we will have to wait awhile for a unified theory.
Some Things are Known
There is no doubt that a good laugh lightens your mind; additionally, it promotes physical changes in your body.
The natural high we get from laughter produces endorphins.
Endorphins are neurotransmitters that help to increase feelings of pleasure and well-being. They also contribute to the reduction of pain and discomfort.
While we laugh, our oxygen intake increases and that stimulates heart, lungs, muscles and releases more endorphins into the system.
The stress response, blood pressure and heart rate increase but don’t panic, they quickly calm down leaving us in a happy, relaxed place and tension soothed.
By stimulating circulation and relaxing our muscles, laughter can also relieve some of the physical symptoms of stress.
Got any good jokes?
Here’s one. . .
Most common lies ever told:
“I didn’t do it”
“I have read and agreed to the Terms and Conditions”
Sometimes though, it’s hard to laugh. Yet, if we can find a chink in the dark to see through to the bright side, there are potential long-term positive effects.
Laughter can contribute to:
- Enhancing your immune system.
Positive thoughts can release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses. Neuropeptides play their part when the nervous system is challenged, by injury, pain, or stress.
Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your natural protection.
- Pain Relief
Laughter triggers the body to produce natural painkillers.
- Increased personal satisfaction.
Laughter makes it easier to cope with demanding situations and helps you connect with other people.
- Improve your mood.
Depression is a common mental challenge estimated by WHO at 5% of adults worldwide. That’s about 390 million people.
Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help reduce your stress, depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier. It can also improve your self-esteem.
Don’t hesitate to leave a message if you are struggling to find the chink of light in the dark.
Support is never far away.
How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?
Just one as long as the light bulb really wants to change.
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I bow to the place in you that is love, light, and joy
Peace & Light
Steve Costello is a British Community & Youth Studies and Psychology honors graduate with over 30-years theoretical and practical experience coaching in the Personal Development public and private sectors. He founded ExGro in 2018 with business partner, and friend, Leo Faerberg.
Leo is also a qualified psychologist with additional training in Clinical Psychology. He has over 20-years experience.