Laughter: the hidden benefits
Name 3 things you have to do everyday. Ok, I’ll go first: breathe, eat, talk, drive, listen, ok maybe that’s more than 3. These are the necessities right? The things we need to do. These are things I don’t even think about, I just do automatically. But, what about the things that make me feel good, things like smiling, hearing my favorite song, having a massage, talking to an old friend, or laughter-those are the things that don’t come as easily. Why is it that we don’t make the second list a part of our daily tasks? Maybe it’s because we don’t know just how important it is.
So you ask, what are the benefits of laughter? Here are some: Let’s start with how it helps us physically. Laughing stretches the muscles in your face and body and increases your blood pressure and heart rate, very similar to the benefits of exercising. It also feels good, it feels really good and relaxes your body. The best part…..it can burn calories-winning! Ok let me confess it won’t be enough to replace exercise, but still every little bit adds up. Next, laughter helps you spiritually-no matter what or who you believe in, being able to laugh can help you appreciate your blessings, people around you, your home, the fact that you are safe, that God seems to have an interesting sense of humor, and that you are still a work in progress.
Emotionally: Laughter makes you feel good. I know that was mentioned earlier-but there is a difference between feeling good physically and feeling good emotionally. I have had times where my body felt good and I was a wreck emotionally. But when the opposite happens, I’m ok-not great but I tend to bounce back quicker. Laughter brings you these great feelings like joy, happiness, peace, love. It can improve your mood, change your perspective, remind you to stop and enjoy the moment, help you not take yourself so seriously…I could go on and on. Finally, relationally the people I laugh most with, I am most connected to. The most valuable relationships are those where you can talk about the most ridiculous things, or laugh at yourself (or someone else). It can help you connect to others and lighten awkward situations. When you laugh with others, you develop an invisible connection you may never have had before, that many times can be the start of a lasting connection. I find this is true in my personal and business life-whether we are friends or networking, if we laugh together, I mean genuinely laugh together, our connection, work, and shared interests are more valuable and those are the people I am most invested in!
So my one tip for a better life: Laughter! Laugh every day, every week, every month. Laugh the way you have your morning coffee. Laugh in the same way you drive to work. Laugh sometimes, laugh often, laugh always!!!
Written by Brianna Gaynor, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist