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Laughter is the best medicine and the ability to laugh at a moment’s notice is like any other habit; the more you practice the easier it is to call upon that skill when you need it. Astronauts and pilots practice a multitude of situations so that if they ever encounter those instances it will be easier to perform a practiced behavior than not knowing what to do. Utilizing laughter to assist you in a happier and healthier life is similar. Practicing laughter allows you to call upon that ability to raise the amount of joy in your day or assist you through an emotional down time, no matter what the reason may be.
Laughter is not the cure for all that ails you, but it will increase your health and happiness. I like what Ellen DeGeneres had to say about laughter; Laughter is the best medicine. It is free and you can still operate heavy machinery. The idea behind practicing laughter is so when you need it, you can create it on the spot, without having to find your favorite sitcom, funny movie or book of quotes.
Studies show that as you get older, the amount of time that you laugh during the day shrinks. A multitude of studies have found that children laugh several hundred percent more than adults. You might say that they have less to worry about, but I think it has more to do with the choices you make on how you spend your day and how you set your priorities.
Laughter has many health benefits. It relieves stress in several ways. It can be used as an aerobic exercise. One researcher found that one minute of hearty laughter can increase your heart rate as much as ten minutes of rowing. Dr. Lee Berk, while performing research at Loma Linda University in California, found that even the anticipation of mirthful laughter can increase endorphins, which can alleviate depression and increase human growth hormones, which improve the body’s immune system. These same studies found that the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, were reduced by the anticipation of mirthful laughter. Research continues to show that laughter, due to increase in blood flow, creates an environment for a healthier heart, increased attentiveness and improved energy levels.
Relationships are also strengthened through laughter. Those who can laugh together, get along better. This is true in personal relationships and in the work environment. Laughter increases a sense of well-being. Studies reported in the Harvard Business Review (HBR), showed that an increase in your feelings of well-being can also increase productivity, creativity and overall success. In this HBR article, “Positive Intelligence,” it says that an increase in well-being can also lower the amount of sick days that are taken by employees. This outcome would have a direct effect on the bottom line of any business.
Additional studies have shown that the body cannot tell the difference between forced laughter and externally activated laughter. Therefore, the benefits of laughter can be achieved whether one truly experiences something funny or not. This is the foundation for laughter clubs and workshops. In addition, it has been stated that 2nd hand laughter has the same benefits as it does for those actively laughing. The fact that laughter is contagious may be true even if the people around you are not outwardly laughing too.
Laughter is the best medicine. Help yourself. Help humanity. Go spread joy by LAUGHING OUT LOUD!
By Julie Ann Sullivan
Author of A little bit of GRATITUDE goes a long way