Okay, I couldn’t resist this donkey duo, they made me laugh. And that gave me the idea for this article. I admit, I don’t think I laugh enough and according to my research, we all should laugh more. Why? Because it’s good for us!
Are there proven health benefits from laughter? Some scientists say yes, others no. But what they all agree on is that it does a person good to laugh — and often. Many say that laughter has benefits such as boosting the immune system and stimulating organs like hearts. Laughing can improve blood pressure, blood sugar levels, even help someone relax and sleep. It can boost energy, relieve pain and reduce stress. It even burns calories.
Proving these health benefits is a difficult task as everyone responds to humor is a different way. Are the benefits a direct result of the laughter, or a byproduct of a person’s condition? Is a person who laughs a lot healthier starting out? Or does a person who is healthy have more to laugh about? Kind of like the chicken and the egg argument.
If you look at the big picture, laughter is usually social and we are more likely to laugh when with we are with other people. Being around others can in itself be the agent of change, make us feel better and happier. Adding laughter and fun into your relationships can make them better. Humor shifts your perspective and allow you to see things more clearly. It’s hard to feel anxious, sad or angry when you are laughing.
But for those who live alone by circumstance or choice, furry friends can be a great source of laughter, too. Having a pet is good for us, mentally and physically. Our fur-babies can help ease loneliness and provide endless unconditional love and affection. Pets, like children, simply like to play and have fun. Animals seem to be natural comedians, and, like the donkey duo in the image above, sometimes they can just look silly and make us smile and feel better.
In an article on HELPGUIDE.org, “Laughter is the Best Medicine,” they suggest the following ways to bring more laughter into your life:
- Start by smiling; it’s contagious and the beginning of full-blown laughter.
- Make a list of the good things in your life; in other words, count your blessings.
- If you hear laughter, move toward it, seek it out.
- Spend more time with fun, playful people. Again, laughter is contagious.
- Bring more humor into your conversations and into your life.
Here are some great pointers on how not to take yourself so seriously and keep things in perspective. Use the following questions as a checklist for lightening up and letting go in tough situations:
- Is it worth getting upset over?
- Is it worth upsetting others?
- Is it that important?
- Is it that bad?
- Is the situation irreparable?
- Is it really your problem?
If we can learn to laugh at ourselves and see the humor in particularly difficult situations, we may find our lives happier and more fulfilling overall. So, whether or not laughter is the catalyst for a greater sense of well-being, it‘s something we enjoy and we should all do more. It’s free and most likely the best medicine out there for helping us cope with life’s difficulties. And let’s face it, it’s a lot more fun and easier than exercise.
I know I’m going to try it, and you should, too. Race you to the laugh factory!