Let’s Talk About Laughter

By Emma Ferguson

Children laugh an average of 400-500 times a day. While adults, if they are lucky, will laugh maybe 15-18 times in a day.

Laughter is the best medicine

“A cheerful heart is good medicine…” Proverbs 17:22

The reality is that laughter is powerful medicine. Back in the 1970’s Norman Cousins was told that he had very little chance of surviving a devastating illness.  And yet he recovered by incorporating mega doses of vitamin C, along with a positive attitude and laughter induced by watching funny movies.

He made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give him at least two hours of pain-free sleep. That is because laughter helps the pituitary gland release its own pain-suppressing opiates.

Research has gone on to show that laughter can actually alter our perception. What before might have seemed impossible can become possible.

What can laughter do?

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increase vascular blood flow and oxygenation of the blood
  • Give a workout to the diaphragm/abdominal/respiratory, facial, leg, back muscles
  • Reduce certain stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin
  • Increase the response of tumor and disease killing cells
  • Defend against respiratory infections — even reducing the frequency of colds by immunoglobulin in saliva
  • Increase memory and learning
  • Improve alertness, creativity and memory

Did You Know?

What may surprise you is the fact that researchers estimate that laughing 100 times is equal to 10 minutes on the rowing machine or 15 minutes on an exercise bike. Laughing can be a total body workout. Blood pressure is lowered and there is an increase in vascular blood flow and oxygenation of the blood. Laughter also gives your diaphragm and abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg and back muscles a workout. In other words, laughter is definitely an aerobic workout!

The psychological benefits of humor are quite amazing. People often store negative emotions such as anger, sadness and fear, rather than expressing them. Laughter provides a way for these emotions to be harmlessly released. Laughter is cathartic.

Increasingly, mental health professionals are suggesting “laughter therapy,” which teaches people how to laugh — openly — at things that aren’t usually funny and to cope in difficult situations by using humor.

We were made as social beings. When a baby is only a few months old, they connect with others through smiling and laughing.   Laughing is the universal language found in every group on earth. Laughter breaks down the barriers of culture, race, economic classes, nationality and governmental philosophies. No matter what differences we may have — we all respond the same way to something amusing –with a laugh.

Laughter is a magnet that draws us into social relationships. Laughter appears to lower our natural stranger anxiety making it easier for us to develop new friendships. Laughter is also the glue that keeps our relationships together. Laughter connects us with each other. When friends or family members share a humorous event such as a joke, it releases positive emotions that help us develop closeness and bind us together.

It is impossible to feel angry, depressed, anxious, guilty or resentful while you are laughing.  So laugh some more!

Article by Emma Ferguson
One Force Productions

Emma and her husband Rick are regular vendors at Austin Metaphysical Life Fair.  Meet them at our show this month on October 25-26, 2014.