Why Laughter Is Good for The Soul
Have you ever wondered why you enjoy laughing so much? It’s because laughter is good for the soul. Laughter is defined as a physical human reaction in which our diaphragm contracts and produces a rhythmical or audible sound. That’s one way to explain it, at least, and there’s no denying there is a science behind the laughter that makes laughter the very best medicine.
By Katelyn Redfoot / April 18, 2020
Laughter is a bodily exercise, precious to health. – Aristotle
Laughter can help the body
You have always heard that laughter is good medicine, and that’s because laughter is linked to positive health.
Though our physical body response is a contraction of the diaphragm and other parts of the respiratory system, it is the positive changes in emotional responses that arise from laughter that contribute to these physical body benefits.
Laughter boosts your immunity, relaxes all your body’s muscles, reduces stress, and improves blood flow to your heart and brain.
You may have also heard that laughter reduces our pain levels, and that’s because humor and laughter are associated with increased pain thresholds.
All of these benefits, from a heart that pumps better and more evenly to an immune system that produces infection-fighting antibodies to reduce your risk of disease, can all be attributed to your mind-body connection.
When you laugh, your brain produces chemicals that trigger these responses.
What your brain produces depends partly on your feelings and thoughts, so even if you are not feeling well but maintain a positive attitude through laughter, your brain is more likely to produce chemicals that boost your body’s healing power.
Laughter can boost your mood
As you have likely put together by now, it is challenging to discuss solely how laughter helps the body without mentioning how laughter boosts your mood and vice versa.
One fundamental way of understanding how laughter is good for the soul and the mood is through understanding the impact that stress has on your health – how you handle stress, that is.
The physical body reaction known as the fight-or-flight response is meant to alert you and help you out when you are in danger.
When you’re stressed, your body will react by increasing your breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. It also can cause your muscles to tense.
However, when you constantly feel this way, stress has an adverse impact on your emotions, causing you to feel upset, moody, tense, or depressed.
So the next time you’re feeling stressed, think about how laughter can reduce your stress hormones, including cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), and dopamine. Laughter also increases your endorphins, which are often referred to as your happiness hormones!
Because laughter also helps to relieve physical tension, your mind will follow suit, promoting a sense of ease and calm, both physically and mentally.
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“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” Charles Dickens
Laughter is contagious
Have you ever wondered why you so readily laugh when someone else is laughing, even when you have no idea what’s going on? We’ve all been there, and we’re all curious.
For one, laughter connects you to others. How can that explain why we tend to laugh more when TV sitcoms utilize laugh tracks in their episodes? It’s not as if we are sharing a genuine moment of connection with the characters.
We are, however, connected to them through laughter. While we are always more likely to laugh around other people, even just hearing laughter triggers our brain and causes us to laugh in response.
Laughter can make you more attractive
While people do not love it when you laugh at them, they appreciate it when you laugh at yourself. It is not necessarily the act of laughing itself that makes you more attractive; it’s what your laughter says about you.
When you can laugh at yourself, you immediately become more likable by others and relatable to them.
It also shows that you have self-acceptance, which is key to self-confidence. After all, if you cannot accept your mistakes or imperfections, then you certainly will not be able to laugh about them.
The other reason why laughter is good for the soul and possibly even finding your soulmate is that laughter makes other people feel good about themselves.
And no, it is not because they feel better about themselves when they witness you falling flat on your face or freezing on stage.
When laughter triggers the brain to release endorphins, it makes both you and others feel good. Laughter cultivates a warm, fuzzy feeling to speak, forming a bond and promoting a sense of togetherness.
Laughter can be very important in a relationship
Couples that laugh are likely more effective at managing conflict because laughter can help reduce it when tensions are high.
It is much easier to solve problems and agree when stress levels are low, and emotions are more leveled.
In a way, laughter creates the space and sets the tone for conflict resolution, and this applies not only to romantic partners but family, friends, and colleagues.
It is also not just disagreements that laughter helps us work through, but also other painful feelings and resentments.
Shared laughter can also help to reinforce the bond you already have, working as a tool to keep elements of your relationships exciting and fresh.
In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed. – Khalil Gibran
Laughing can make you a more positive person.
The truth is that you will like yourself much more once you learn to accept yourself. Those who can accept themselves for who they are, flaws and all, are typically more optimistic and able to laugh at themselves.
And when you are more optimistic, you are likely to be more successful in life because you have a mindset that prioritizes possibilities despite your shortcomings or setbacks.
One of the number one reasons why laughter is good for the soul is that it can promote a positive mood and mental health through hard times and embarrassing ones.
The more we cultivate and channel this positivity, the more positive of people we become. And if you are someone who tends to remain uptight in many situations, becoming more mindful of your lack of laughter can serve as a reminder to lighten up a little.
There is always room for more positivity and laughter, but you cannot always rely on others – sometimes, you must create the space for laughter yourself.
Laughing and intimacy
Disclosure of personal information is a vital element of any strong social bond. Think about how good it feels when you can share something personal with someone you trust or when someone trusts or depends on you enough to disclose theirs.
Research suggests that when you laugh, it can temporarily influence your willingness to disclose personal information and that disclosure intimacy is significantly higher after laughter.
Even though you may not be aware that laughter has anything to do with the reason you are spilling secrets, it does not take away from the fact that laughter can make your relationship stronger.
How to laugh more
“Laugh my friend, for laughter ignites a fire within the pit of your belly and awakens your being.” — Stella & Blake
When something is as good for the mind, body, and soul as laughter is, we naturally want to know how can we bring more laughter into our lives?
As mentioned, there may be times when you are driven to laugh even if you have no idea what is so funny, and that’s all the more reason to go find out.
If you hear or see people laughing and it doesn’t seem like an inside joke between an intimate group of people, one of the best things you can do is ask them, “what’s so funny?”.
Chances are, they will love getting another chance to talk and laugh about it. Maybe you can make a new friend out of it.
Humor does not always have to come from others, however. There are times where it will benefit you to find some humor yourself, rather than dwelling over a mistake or something embarrassing.
Seek gratitude and positivity
Practice being grateful for the positive aspects of your life. It is far easier to experience laughter more regularly when it’s from a place of joy rather than sadness.
Seek humorous people
Your friends and the people you surround yourself with do not have to be comedians for you to find their laughter contagious. The idea is to seek that positive energy – the positive people who can laugh at themselves and possibly encourage you to laugh at yourself!
Laughter is good medicine because it is something you share. Laughter is not just good for the soul; it is the language of it.