Laughter-More Than Just Good For Your Soul

The picture above is of my cat, Miss Priss.  Every time I see it, it makes me laugh.  She’s a hot mess for sure!

Laughter.  We hear it all the time how it’s the best medicine and that it’s good for your soul.  But have you ever wondered why?  Or what else it may be good for?

Here are just  a few things:

Decreases Stress

We all know that if you are down, depressed or don’t feel good that laughter can just plain make you feel better.  But did you know that it triggers hormonal changes inside your body?  A good belly laugh helps to decrease cortisol and epinephrine, two stress hormones while increasing endorphins, serotonin and a host of other feel good hormones all at the same time.

Increases Immunity

Laughter helps to increase T-cells in your body which are key to a healthy immune system.  According to Sebastien Gendry of Laughter Online University, A good belly laugh involves the diaphragm which helps with lymphatic circulation.  The more lymphatic fluid moving through the lymph nodes, the more lymphocytes produced which in turn builds the immune system.  Norman Cousins was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis  which left him in constant pain.  His doctors gave him 6 months to live but he rejected their prognosis, instead with his doctor’s permission, he tried his own form of medicine…high doses of vitamin C and laughter!  He found that 10 minutes of a good belly laugh gave him 2 hours of pain-free sleep.  He eventually regained his health and his life.  He went on to promote the connection between laughter and healing for the remainder of his life.

Sir Thomas…King of our cat colony!

Protects Your Heart

When you laugh it’s almost like exercising, it increases your heart rate, which makes your heart pump faster, which increases blood flow.  According to the American Heart Association, it reduces stress hormones (we already talked about that one), reduces artery inflammation, and increase HDL (good cholesterol) and the effects have been found to last up to 24 hours!

Decreases Pain

We’ve already discussed how laughter can increase production of endorphins but did you know that endorphins can help you with pain relief.  Yes indeed!  Endorphins interact with opiate receptors in the brain to reduce the perception of pain.  Endorphins can act similarly to codeine and morphine but are not addictive like the medications are.

Abby the dog and Sylvester…our other cat! They are buddies.

Increases Oxygen Flow

Laughter also increases oxygen flow.  Research has shown that it can be a form of exercise!  10-15 minutes of laughter burns 40-50 calories!  I found that amazing!  Now, it won’t replace working out but if you can’t work out due to physical limitations or debilitating circumstances, you can still do something…laugh!!

May Help You Live Longer

In Norway there was a 15 year study on 53,556 people who showed laughter increased your life span.  When you think about it, it makes sense.  Think about all the comedians who have lived very long lives…

  • Bob Hope
  • George Burns
  • Phyllis Diller
  • Milton Berle
  • Victor Borge
  • Dick Van Dyke (still living)
  • Jerry Lewis (still living)

All of these lived (or are still living) well into there 90’s!  Bob Hope and George Burns lived to be 100!!  And all were (or are) still sharp as a tack.  John’s Hopkins University of Medical School found “Humor and laughter can improve memory and mental performance.”

So maybe you didn’t grow up in a house with a lot of laughter.  Don’t lose hope!  You can cultivate a funny bone even if you are older!  So how do we do this?  Here are a few tips.

  • Don’t take life to seriously
  • Laugh at yourself
  • Study children
    • There is nothing like a child that is laughing uncontrollably!  I love to hear the giggles and will always join in!  Research has shown that children will laugh up to 400 times a day while adults less than 20!  So come on…let the child in you out!!
  • Get a goat!
    • Seriously…has anyone ever been able to watch a goat play and not laugh out loud!

So come on…have a good laugh, watch a comedy, tell a joke, double over with a good belly buster.  It’s  all in the name of health!  Let me know what you do to get a chuckle.  Leave me a comment and if you haven’t done so yet, sign up to get my newest post delivered straight to your email!  Until next time….

Becky

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