There are several health benefits when you laugh. Do you laugh often enough? Did you know that researchers say, on average, a child will laugh 300 times a day, but an adult only 17 times each day? Let’s see if we can increase that number a bit for you with a good laugh. After all, laughter is good medicine.
Can we agree that laughter makes us feel good and that we all need more laughter in our life? When you laugh, that positive feeling remains with you long after you laugh, especially if you have a good belly laugh that just shakes your whole body.
Laughter will help you feel better because of the endorphins it creates for an extended period, which is terrific. That’s why we need to laugh more often.
Also, humor helps you to stay positive and keep an optimistic outlook on life. Then when you go through difficult situations, or disappointments, or even loss, you’re able to get through the trying time with more ease.
Laughter is just good medicine! As it says in the book of Proverbs, it’s good for us. We need to find ways to laugh more often.
You may say, “I wasn’t born with a good sense of humor.” I’ve said that before. I’ve never considered myself a funny person, and I have an older brother who is a hilarious person. And so I’ve kind of been in his shadow when it comes to comedy.
But I love to laugh, so I try to find things that make me laugh because I want that reason to laugh more often. I know how good it is for me, not only physically but mentally, emotionally. It’s really very good for you all the way around.
The best way to start is by laughing at your own imperfections. Start by laughing rather than feeling embarrassed when something goes wrong because we all have these imperfections or minor failures or little quirks that we do that are funny if you really think about it because they’re so absurd.
One of my quirks happens when my brain gets ahead of my tongue. I’ll mix the front end of words up. For example, I’ll say, “Can you please hand me the poffy cot?” Instead of saying the coffee pot. Or “don’t you enjoy the shun sign today? When I really meant to say sunshine!
I’ll never forget when I lived in Miami, Florida, working as a trainer and a mentor for high school leadership students. One time we were traveling in a van with a group of leadership students, my colleague, and me, and we were having a really intense, serious discussion. I was so excited to say something and get the words out that I mixed up the front of the words again. While I meant to say, “If the shoe fits!” Instead, I said, “If the foo -*&$%@!” The whole group just burst out laughing. In fact, Tommy, my colleague, and I will bring it up even to this day, years later, and get a good laugh out of that mishap.
I was so embarrassed about it, but at the same time, we all had a good laugh from it.
Why do we want to laugh more often?
Laughter provides numerous physical health benefits.
- Laughter relaxes your body.
- It boosts your immune system.
- It’s good for your heart.
- Laughter burns calories. That’s a great reason to laugh!
- And laughter may even help you live longer.
A Norwegian study analyzed over 50,000 men and women for 15 years to see if they could tie a sense of humor to mortality rates. What they wanted to know was whether a sense of humor made you live longer.
They found that women with high scores for their sense of humor were associated with 48% less risk of death from all causes. That’s incredible! You’ll live 50% longer because you laugh more – hey, let’s find some more to laugh about, right?
More specifically, it showed that women showed a 73% lower risk of death from heart disease and an 83% lower risk of death from infection when they had had a good score for a good sense of humor.
Now for men, it was different. There wasn’t a link overall with death, and it was only with the death of infection. The men with high humor scores had a 74% reduced risk of death from an infection. And the author of the research said that the gender differences could be due to a slight decline in humor scores as men age. (I’ll just leave that right there.)
I thought it was fascinating that there’s actually a study that links your sense of humor or how often you laugh to your mortality. It’s so true, and it’s good for us physically. And there are also mental health benefits of laughter.
Several mental health benefits are also associated with laughter.
- Laughter adds joy and zest to life. We feel better. We have a more positive outlook when we laugh and have that joy.
- It eases anxiety and tension. It’s difficult to feel anxious or sad or angry when you’re laughing.
Early in their marriage, my brother and sister-in-law figured out a way to diffuse disagreements and arguments quickly. Whenever they would get in a fight and get angry with one another, my brother, Jay, would start to laugh. It would break the tension, and my sister-in-law, Laura, would get so upset because she couldn’t help but laugh along with him. After all, it’s so contagious. It was just a great way of breaking down that anger – just to laugh in the middle of their fight.
Think about that with your relationships. Is there someone you can say, “Hey, let’s laugh about this and move on from our anger or our disagreement?”
- Laughter also relieves stress. It helps you relax and recharge and increases your energy.
- It’s so good for you overall. It improves your mood.
- Finally, laughter strengthens your resilience.
Resilience is your capacity to recover fully from adversity.
In recent years, psychologists and psychotherapists have been talking more and more about the importance of having resilience. Resilience is simply your capacity to recover fully, emotionally and mentally, when experiencing adversity or difficult times and challenges.
Even in the most challenging times, a laugh or simply a smile, the precursor to a laugh, can go a long way to making you feel better.
Laughter shifts your perspective and allows you to see your situation as more realistic and less threatening. Having that humorous perspective creates this distance that can help you avoid feeling angry and overwhelmed, and it can defuse that conflict.
I remember one time my family just had to laugh. My great-niece Graelyn turned one in the spring, and we had planned for this beautiful outdoor birthday celebration. We were very excited, and there was a lot of build-up to the party. The family was all excited. We all, of course, bought way too many presents for her and it was glorious anticipation for her first birthday party.
We arrive for the party and find the next-door neighbor who happens to be cutting, trimming several trees in his yard – right next door. The entire birthday party, all we can hear is this chainsaw roaring. The conversation was minimal, to say the least! At one point, we asked him to take a short break so we could at least sing “Happy Birthday” to her before we cut the cake.
Ultimately, we just had to laugh about it. Who would have known that after all this planning for this birthday party, that the neighbors would have tree trimmers coming that day? And all Graelyn was interested in was watching these tree limbs coming down and the chainsaw noise.
You have to laugh about those situations and get a good perspective on them.
Laughter is contagious.
Laughter really is contagious. Sometimes when you just hear someone else laugh, it primes your brain and readies you to smile and to join the fun. One reason is that it releases endorphins. Endorphins are those feel-good neurotransmitters that really have an effect, and it’s pretty similar to narcotics. Endorphins are one reason laughter can be contagious.
Five ways to bring more laughter into your life right now.
First up is to spend time with people who make you laugh.
As we spend time with people, we become more like them. So if you spend time with people that make you laugh, you’re going to laugh more often, and you’ll develop that sense of humor.
Most studies about humor and laughter don’t look at listening to jokes or reading funny books. Studies show laughter comes from spending time with family and friends and just the simple things that happen in life.
Next, spend time with the children in your life.
Children laugh 300 times a day. That’s got to be contagious. The sweetest sound in the world is when my great-niece Graelyn laughs. It’s just incredible. And she loves to tease! She likes to start to hand you something and then pull it back before you grab it, and then she’ll giggle. Where do they learn these things? Right? She just thinks it is such a hoot. And it makes us all laugh.
Number three, play games with your family and friends.
There’s always laughter when you’re sitting around a table playing a board game or a card game with your family or friends.
If you notice a theme here, number one, number two, and number three all have to do with spending time with other people. And research shows you’re going to laugh more when you’re with other people. Although sometimes I laugh at myself when I’m by myself because I do silly things. And I’m sure you do, too.
Number four is a little bit different. Laugh at your pet.
We all love our dogs and cats and animals. And sometimes they do funny things. We had a dog, but she died a couple of years ago now. Tilly was a Miniature Schnauzer. Tilly would flip her bed up into the air until it landed on top of her. Then she would just snuggle down underneath her bed and go to sleep. It was just the craziest thing. She was such a silly dog. But it made us laugh, and it was fun to watch her.
Spend time with people who make you laugh. Spend time with the children in your life, play games with people, laugh with your pets.
And finally, you’ll find yourself laughing more if your entertainment is funny, too.
There’s so much crime and dark subjects and horrible stories in our entertainment. I just understand why there isn’t more light-heartedness and comedy and more romance. Of course, I’m a woman, and I love romance.
Try to fill your entertainment with things that are going to bring a smile to your face. Consider what entertains you, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and even those pages and groups that you follow on social media. Your choice of entertainment will prepare your mind to look for more enjoyment from humor in your life.
Can you really develop a sense of humor?
Of course, you can! It’s just like anything else, and it’s something that you have to make an effort to do – you can develop that sense of humor.
The first step to developing a sense of humor is to not take yourself too seriously. Laugh at your own foolishness and your own mistakes and your own flubs. As I said, I get my words twisted all the time. And if I can, I just laugh at it. You have to laugh at yourself and find ways to make that a fun part of life.
Next, look for humor in every situation, whether it’s absurd or ironic, like the tree trimmers at the birthday party. You have to look at the funny side of things, and it will be a humorous memory for us. It wasn’t so amusing at the time, but it will be in the future, I’m sure.
Think of memories you have that were humorous at the time and laugh all over again. Or if something funny happens, and nobody is around to see it, then tell somebody about it! Share it with your friends or your family, share it with someone who will understand and get a good laugh about it, too. Tell them, “You know what I did this morning?” And then share it with them.
Finally, make a conscious effort to find something each day that makes you laugh. Look around you, be observant, look for those things that are gonna give you a giggle and make you laugh each and every day. Keeping an eye out for something humorous will help you to grow your sense of humor.
Laughter is not only fun, but it’s also good for you! It provides physical health benefits such as reducing stress and improving your immune system, and it also boosts your mood and helps relieve anxiety and tension. Laughing can even help us be more resilient when we’re feeling down or upset about something that has happened in our lives. So go ahead and laugh with some friends or family today – the world will thank you for it!
What are some ways you like to make sure laughter gets incorporated into your day? Let us know in the comments below.