Laughter is the best medicine, it's fun to share a good laugh, but did you know it can improve your health? Learn how to harness the powerful benefits of laughter and humor.
It's true: laughter is strong medicine. It draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Nothing works faster to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps release anger and forgive sooner.
With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh is easily a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting physical and emotional health. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use.
As children, we laughed hundreds of times a day, but as adults, life tends to be more serious and laughter becomes more infrequent. Seeking out more opportunities for humor and laughter can improve your emotional health, strengthen your connectedness, find greater happiness—and even add years to your life.
A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
The health benefits of laughter:
Humor helps promote a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and losses. More than just a respite from sadness and pain, laughter gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope. Even in the most challenging times, a laugh–or even simply a smile–can go a long way toward making you feel better. And laughter is contagious—just hearing laughter primes your brain and readies you to smile and join in the fun.
Laughter can help to lighten anger's heavy load. Nothing diffuses anger and conflict faster than a shared laugh. Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding onto bitterness or resentment.
It is difficult to feel anxious, angry, or sad when you're laughing because it stops distressing emotions. It helps you to relax and recharge because it reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more. Laughter can also shift your perspective, allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed, burn out and diffuse conflict.
Laughter draws you closer to others, which can profoundly affect all aspects of your mental and emotional health. Laughter brings people together and strengthens relationships. Laughter is contagious so you are more likely to laugh when surrounded by others. The more laughter you bring into your own life, the happier you and those around you will feel.
When you care about someone enough to switch off your phone and truly connect face to face, you are engaging in a process that rebalances the nervous system and puts the brakes on defensive stress responses like "fight or flight." If you are able to share a laugh in these connected moments, you'll both will feel happier, more positive, and more relaxed.
Humor and playful communication strengthen our relationships by triggering positive feelings and fostering emotional connection. When we laugh with one another, a positive bond is created. This bond acts as a strong buffer against stress, disagreements, and disappointment.
Humor and laughter in relationships allow you to:
Don't always take yourself too seriously. Learn to laugh at yourself and share some embarrassing moments. Attempt to laugh at situations rather than bemoan them. Look for the humor in a bad situation, and uncover the irony and absurdity of life. When something negative happens, try to make it a humorous anecdote that will make others laugh.
Try to avoid toxic people and don't fixate on the news stories, entertainment, or conversations that make you sad or unhappy. Many things in life are beyond our control—particularly the behavior of others. While you might view carrying the world's weight on your shoulders as admirable, it's unrealistic and unhealthy in the long run.
Address the stress in your life. It can be a significant impediment to humor and laughter, so it's essential to keep your stress levels in check. One great technique to relieve stress in the moment is to laugh. Don't go a day without laughing. Think of it like exercise or breakfast-make a conscious effort to find something each day that makes you laugh. Set aside 10 to 15 minutes daily to do something that amuses you. The more you practice laughing each day, the less effort you'll have to make.
The ability to laugh, play, and have fun makes life more enjoyable and helps you solve problems, connect with others, and become more mindful. People who incorporate humor and play into their daily lives find that it renews them and all of their relationships.
Life brings challenges that can either get the best of you or become playthings for your imagination. When you "become the problem" and take yourself too seriously, it can be hard to think outside the box and find new solutions. But when you play with the problem, you can often transform it into an opportunity.