Laughter Benefits: The Three C's

Learn the Many Benefits Of Laughter To The Soul
By E. E. Kane LifeScript

Scientists are still learning how and why laughter benefits our health. Laughter is a natural impulse. It may not be as important or automatic as breathing or blood-pumping, but it is right up there with crying or scratching an itch, only better. You know that laughter is good because it feels great at the time, and you feel better afterward. But is laughter beneficial enough to warrant a laughter therapist? We'll discuss how laughter benefits can make you healthier, and cover the three C's: connecting, coping and control.

Laughter Health Benefits
Ever since Norman Cousins wrote his book, Anatomy of an Illness, in which he personally explored the benefits of laughter, scientists have been researching laughter benefits. What they know for sure is that laughter relieves pain. Cousins liked to watch the Marx brothers and Candid Camera on television when he suffered from a debilitating disease of the spine, and claimed that 10 minutes of laughter helped him sleep for two hours without pain.

Since then multiple studies have been conducted. Although critics of some studies say that the tests were biased and the results cannot be trusted, there is enough proof to back up what doctors and philosophers have taught for millennia: laughing is good for you. Some doctors now recommend getting 15 minutes of laughter every day, in addition to eating a healthy diet and exercising. Scientists believe laughing benefits health in the following areas:

Good Hormones - Laughter produces the natural feel-good endorphin hormones, which can help reduce stress, aid relaxation and sleep, and produce a natural "high." It is also thought that the laughter-producing endorphins build up the body's immune system. Mini Workout - Pioneer researcher William Fry compared exercise to laughter, concluding that just one minute of "hearty laughter" elevated his heart rate to the same level it reached after 10 minutes on a rowing machine.

Heart Health - According to a 2005 press release from, laughing increases blood and expands the inner walls of your arteries. This in turn helps prevent heart disease.

The Social Benefits of Laughter and Connectivity
Sure, you can laugh when you watch a funny movie or TV show, join a laughter yoga class or hire a laughter therapist, but most of us do not want to hang out at comedy clubs just to feel better.

The most satisfying laughter is shared. Think back to the last time you really laughed. Were you alone? Probably not.

"Laughter is not primarily about humor," says Robert Provine, Ph.D., in Laughter: A Scientific Investigation, "but about social relationships."

It is a way to communicate approval, understanding, and agreement.

More often than not a shared laugh is not about a joke or anecdote. In fact, if you later try to tell someone else about the hysterical instance, it will be lost on them. To which your appropriate, polite response is: "You had to be there." You can bet the third party would not have grasped the humor of your private joke even if they were present at the time.

Couples know that laughter is a superglue-like bonding experience, able to achieve intimacy and smooth over ruffled feathers with a single snort. Laughter in the context of love puts you at ease with one another. You can feel perfectly comfortable being ridiculously silly with one another, in ways you would never dream of with anyone else. Couples who frequently make each other laugh are blessed with long, happy marriages, and are envied more than any svelte Hollywood pair.

Families benefit from shared laughter as well. Siblings can become best friends. After all, it is hard to dislike a person that makes you laugh, even if that person is an irritating sibling you have often wanted to strangle in the past. It can only happen if you spend time talking and playing together. Reminiscing and laughing about the past has a way of soothing hurts and grudges, and cements those relationships into some of the strongest bonds we can experience in life.

The Psychological Benefits of Laughter and Coping
"It seemed horrible at the time, but I can laugh about it now." How many times have you said this after telling your friends some life-related curve ball? Those who have a good sense of humor can recuperate more quickly, and it all has to do with a self-evaluating ability for perspective. With a little time, and a few conversations with your best friend about the horrible-incident-turned-funny-story, you can quickly heal from small wounds, and weather many of life's worst storms with the strength of a battleship.

The human mind is capable of overcoming difficulties on a scale from paper cuts to the atrocities of war. Some bounce back, and others do not. Having a sense of humor helps. And laughter is not a selfish solution. By finding the humor in bad situations (and moving on), you are helping those around you to find the courage to do the same. Laughter is infectious, and so is resilience. Your choice to respond to problems positively is certain to cheer someone else around you, including your friends, spouse and children. It is the perfect gift, and it can be handed out freely every day.

And the Last "C": Control
Laughter gives you the ability to make choices when everything seems to be out of your control. Instead of falling apart at provocation, you can choose to laugh about it, which in turn makes you feel like you are in control. Laughter can help you survive, with your sanity intact.

Laughter can be used as a Band-Aid treatment instead of dealing with the real causes behind stress, anger, bitterness or even grief. Over 3,000 years ago, wise King Solomon said, "Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief." (Proverbs 14:13) Laughter should never be sought as the cure-all for every ailment of the body or heart. We as human beings react in different ways to emotions, many of which are beneficial. Thoughtful meditation and having a good cry are equally beneficial. When the feelings subside you may reach the ability to make necessary and positive life changes.

These may be somber reactions, and we generally do not like to experience them, but in their own way they can produce something even better than laughter--true joy.

But let's not throw the baby (laughing) out with the bathwater (using it as a panacea). Laughter helps us cope when there is little else to cling to. It helps us see how utterly stupid we were to let the mole hill grow into Mt. Saint Helen's, about to pop its top. Laughter is the key ingredient to happy social gatherings, and is the marker for all of those great moments we remember. ("Remember the time...?") Laughter is helpful in large and small doses, but it is best when it is spontaneous. Let the scientists go on with their studies, and let the critics disdain the results; the rest of us will go on with life as we always have, doing the best with what we've got, thankful for the happiness and the laughter benefits that come with it.

Posted June 2008 | Permanent Link

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