Cliche as it might sound, laughter really is the best medicine -- and I can certainly vouch for that these days. Atop the stress of my new career, this week I've been battling a fierce cold, and one of the best distractions from my aching head and stuffy nose has been laughter. When my boyfriend pokes fun at me, when I catch my daily dose of Ellen, when I receive a hilarious text message -- all of these things crack me up and make whatever's ailing me disappear for a moment.
Laughter might seem like a frivolous thing to spend time thinking about, but it's important. It has such a positive impact on your life and, like most people, you probably don't give much thought to it. Laughter is something we've been doing since we were infants. We learned quickly that laughter is rewarded. Just think about how people try to make babies laugh and how clearly pleased they are when the giggle erupts from that tiny little mouth. As babies, we were encouraged to laugh and we received positive responses when we did so.
As we grew older, we realized there are different types of laughter and different occasions when laughter is appropriate (one of which, I've learned, is not in the front row of a church). As we age, the meaning of laughter changes. It grows deeper and richer and has many more levels than it did when we were infants. As adults, we no longer have people cooing around us in an attempt to make us laugh, but sometimes when we're really feeling down, there are people in our lives who will do whatever they can to bring that laughter out of us.
No matter what the age, laughter is one of those things that just makes you feel good. There's certainly negative laughter (such as laughing at someone), but today I want to focus on how we can bring more of the positive types of laughter into our lives. As adults, we need to laugh more often. According to Psychology Today, the average five-year-old laughs 300 times a day. The average adult? Only four.
Just think about how great you would feel if you laughed 300 times today. Pretty amazing, I bet. Not only does laughter feel great, but it has quite a few health and social benefits as well. You probably don't need much encouragement to laugh more often, but just in case you need an extra push, here are five reasons you really should start laughing more.
5 Reasons to Laugh
1. Laughter boosts your immune system. According to some studies, laughter helps to boost your immune system and may even increase the number of cancer-killing cells in your body. Doing something that feels good and is good for you? Sounds like a good idea to me!
2. Laughter release endorphins. And speaking of feeling good... when you laugh, you trigger a release of endorphins (those feel-good chemicals). These chemicals are the reason that you feel so happy when you laugh. The more you laugh, the better you'll feel so do it as often as you can!
3. Laughter helps us connect with others. Think about how you feel when you're laughing with someone. You feel connected, right? Even if you don't know the person well, you feel bonded with him or her. Forming connections has a positive impact on our lives -- and laughter is a great way to connect!
4. Laughter protects your heart. Apparently laughing has some healthy heart benefits. Laughing can lead to improved blood flow and cut down on high blood pressure. Heart troubles are unfortunately pretty common -- which is why we should all start laughing more often to ward them off.
5. Laughter keeps us present. When you're laughing, you're focused on whatever is funny in that moment. You're not worried about the past or the future. You're in the now. Though you might not realize it, laughter really is one of the best ways to stay present.
These are just a few of the many reasons it benefits us to laugh. Laughter offers us a break from the hard parts of life. Laughter offers us a chance to escape, even for a few moments, from the past and the future. Laughter allows us to really be in the moment. No matter how badly you feel, how broken your heart is, how tough things seem, laughter has the ability to pick you up, to bring you a respite from unhappiness. It really is the best medicine. Below are a few of laugh-inducing links.
What's making YOU laugh today?
Feel free to share your funny jokes, links, and stories
in the comments section below.