Mind Boost: The Magical Power of Laughter
Image Quentin Thompson titled Konninginnedah
The power of laughter is extraordinary and is often underrated and neglected.
Laughter might indeed be the best medicine and has the power to heal, alleviate pain, improve immunity and relieve stress and anxiety. It helps strike a balance in life between good and bad, sadness and unhappiness and is perhaps the yin and yang of life. Humour is more infectious than coughs and sneezes and its benefits are immense. An old Yiddish proverb says, “What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.”
Without laughter and humour we lose a dimension of ourselves. Our character is dull, flat and we become isolated and may feel desolate, especially if you cannot understand the reason for laughter. Life is serious and harsh and for many of us we are shown that rough edge time and time again.
Every one of us is at risk of succumbing to its intensity and for the sake of our sanity and life itself, we cannot allow that.
Is life getting you down?
When pressures are building at home or at work, perhaps a good, hearty chuckle is just the tonic you need. Humour triggers the laughter you need to release stressful emotions. It is so important to dispel stress and anxiety so we do not become enveloped in emotional despair. Laughter relieves stress, creates positive emotions, promotes communication and enhances social interaction and relationships.
“Your sense of humour is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.”
- Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D.
Nothing works better than a large dose of laughter to redress the balance of all things and to lighten the load. It is a tool that enables you to connect with others and enhances relationships while supporting physical and emotional health.
Laughter is good for your health
A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and de-stresses, leaving muscles relaxed for up to forty five minutes. Laughter causes physiological responses that protect the body from disease and help our vital organs repair themselves. It protects the heart, improving blood vessels and increasing blood flow. This can give protection against a heart attack or other cardiovascular problems. It lowers blood pressure, improves sleep patterns and boosts the immune system. It decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, triggers the release of endorphins, our body’s own natural feel-good chemicals – the same chemicals released when you exercise so you see it truly is a fantastic mental workout brimming with physical benefits.
A study by the John Hopkins University Medical School showed that laughter and humour improve memory and mental performance. So if you can do one good thing today, do it with a smile.
Don’t take life too seriously
Laughter has the feel-good factor. Even after you finish laughing, that overall good feeling stays with you for some time. Humour enables you to be positive and optimistic when times are difficult. It helps you to find meaning and hope in life, bringing joy and lifting your mood. On a social level, laughter attracts others to us, enhances teamwork and also promotes group bonding. In times of disagreements and conflicts, laughter can be a fantastic ice-breaker, helping to heal rifts and enabling you to find a way forward to resolving the problem.
Laughter is infectious
When someone you’re with laughs, and laughs, it’s catching and sometimes you laugh purely because they are. Shared laughter is not only enjoyable and sociable but it’s one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships exciting and fresh, helping to contribute to building stronger, lasting relationships. A room full of people can be instantly revitalised and warmed by a good injection of laughter, bringing people closer and forging amazing connections.
Laughter is a natural part of you and life
Babies smile during the first weeks of life, chuckling away after a few months. The simple act of listening to a baby laugh can instil laughter, passing it on like a virus. It is almost impossible not to feel the corners of your mouth twitch and flicker as you fight to suppress a smile.
Do you need to develop your sense of humour?
Often it’s easier than you think, just begin by not taking yourself too seriously. Life has a lighter side. Begin by laughing at yourself, sharing your embarrassing moments. Perhaps try laughing at situations rather than bemoaning them. It helps to keep things in perspective as opposed to blowing up situations or problems out of proportion. Spend more time with your family, your children and friends. Watch children play and interact and soak up the simplicity of life.
Get a pet
Animals are fabulous for making our lives fun and varied. They do crazy things and often take us to laughing, side-splitting realms with their antics. Studies have shown that people with pets have lower levels of depression and stress and have a reduced risk of heart disease.
Look for laughter
Read a funny book or catch up on your favourite comedian or comedy show. Laughter is all around if you’re looking for it.
As laughter and humour sneak into your daily life and become a part of your regular routine, you will benefit in so many ways. From health to social relationships to creativity. You will develop and flourish and people will react to you in a more positive way. In time you will be able to deal with life’s troubles and with life itself in a more relaxed and positive way, having a much more balanced perspective.
The message is simple
In this life, we need to laugh. Try to find the joy from the simple things. Find a reason to laugh each day. Even smiling has been shown to make us feel better so if all else fails, force a smile. A simple conversation can leave you with a glow, even if it’s a brief phone call and not face-to-face.
So take charge today and smile and glow and live longer!
It truly is a fantastic mental workout brimming with physical benefits.
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You can read this story and more in our summer 2015 food and drink issue here