Why we all need to laugh more
By Duane Hewitt
Most of us may not give much thought to laughter, but there are very important reasons for laughter and why we all need to laugh more.
Laughter is good for us in a number of ways, beginning with this: Laughter actually alters our brain chemistry for the better. That’s right; put another way, the more we laugh the better we feel. Laughter gives us an emotional high.
Laughter stimulates the release of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and one of a number of chemicals that are responsible for transmitting signals between the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain. Dopamine helps the brain process emotional responses while also augmenting pleasure. Serotonin (in simplified terms) is also a neurotransmitter. It influences your entire body, including motor skills as well as emotions. Serotonin is considered to be a natural mood stabilizer and can elevate moods. (It actually does so much more, like impact appetite and digestion, improve sleep and memory, and even boost sexual function and desire.) Endorphins are also neurotransmitters and have a number of important functions; a few of which include the regulation of stress and pain as well as inducing feelings of elation and pleasure. Throw it all together and laughter bolsters our emotional health in a big way.
When we laugh, these neurotransmitters improve our moods and give us happy feelings. We feel lighter, more at ease, and suddenly we have a brighter outlook. Those pleasurable feelings also make us more inclined to be more open, sociable, outgoing, and talkative. This is one of the reasons why laughter brings people together. It tends to be one of the social mechanisms of groups. Laughter and humor connects people. It bonds us together.
If ever you’re feeling sad, angry, or anxious, try to find something to laugh about. If this seems hard for you to do at first, it’s worth making the effort. Since humor is very subjective, look for things that appeal especially to you as being funny and allow yourself to laugh. Try it. Find something that works for you individually. It might be old clips of the Three Stooges, stand-up comedy, cartoons, or movies you find funny – especially the kind you can come back to time and again. In a short while, you may find that you need that daily laughter; like a fix. And what’s wrong with that? That laughter is doing you a lot of good.
When you laugh there’s an increased intake of oxygen. Blood vessels expand and in so doing increases blood flow. Your body likes this. You may just find too, that laughter gives you a better complexion. It can also make you more appealing and likeable to others.
Our brains basically do what we program them to do. If all you do is cry all the time then all you’ll be doing is programming your brain to cry, and it’ll become increasingly difficult to pull yourself out of that downcast mindset. The same goes for being angry or anxious. But people who laugh a lot find it easy to laugh and sustain good feelings.
Laughter can actually make you feel happy and hopeful again. It’s a lot like love – except laughter won’t let you down. In this world, we all need to laugh more. And that’s no joke.
Copyright 2017 Duane Hewitt. All rights reserved.