Laughter is the Best Medicine
Wanna Hear a Joke?
A horse walks into a bar. The shocked bartender points a finger his way in alarm and yells, “Hey!”
The horse says, “You read my mind, Buddy.”
There’s never a bad time for a laugh. And if you’re in a pinch, a snicker, chuckle, chortle, or guffaw will do. Laughter is more than your funny bone getting rubbed the right way. It’s how we build relationships with others. At the most primal level, it shows you’re a friend, not a foe. And speaking of primates, even gorillas laugh—especially when they’re being tickled.
Ever notice how people gravitate towards the funny person? It’s as if we’re hardwired to be around people joking and smiling. And you don’t need a circus degree to know why—laughing feels good.
Laughter releases endorphins—feel-good hormones—into your body. Acting on the opiate receptors in your brain, they reduce pain and boost pleasure to create a feeling of well-being. Our bodies release endorphins in response to pain or stress, but we also get a boost during other activities, like eating, exercise, or sex.
A good laugh or joke not only makes life more enjoyable, it also helps to solve problems, connect with others, and think more creatively. Humor frees up your mind for problem solving by creating a good mental space to give you a better perspective of situations. It’s what golfers do to put their minds at ease before swinging the club or how politicians warm up an audience.
During times of trouble, it’s good to have a laugh. Here are six fun facts (and jokes) about laughter and keeping your spirits up during troubling times.
We Laugh Before We Speak
A quick game of pick-a-boo with a baby is proof you don’t need to speak to laugh. Laughter creates an immediate bond between humans. Scientists believe our ability to laugh was formed over 100,000 years ago—before we could even talk. Without speaking a word, it’s possible to share a laugh through body language and facial expression.
What time of night do parents change the most diapers? In the wee wee hours.
Laughter Comes in Pairs
Couples who laugh together, stay together. Tackling stressful situations with laughter not only feels better in the moment, it maintains a higher level of relationship satisfaction. And it’s no laughing matter, because couples who laugh together tend to be happier, more content, and enjoy longer relationships.
Do you have a date for Valentine’s Day? Yes, it’s February 14!
Laughing is Infectious
When you see other people laughing, do you also flash a smile? There’s a physiological reason for this phenomena. Laughter triggers the premotor cortical region of your brain, preparing the muscles in your face to smile. Subconsciously, humans want to connect with others, and we initiate and develop relationships by smiling and laughing. Want to make friends? Laugh along!
What do you call a pony with a cough? A little hoarse.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Funny
A study out of University of Maryland examined 1,200 “laugh episodes” at a shopping mall. And it turns out, only 10 percent of laughs came from a joke. Dr. Robert Provine, a professor of psychology and neuroscience, determined that laughter is “a bonding function between individuals in a group.” We often laugh as a response to a nervous or awkward situation. It helps to break the tension and lets others know things are going to be okay.
Before giving a big speech, my wife gave me some advice: “Don’t try to be too charming, too witty, or too intellectual…just be yourself.”
It’s Good for Your Ticker
Knowing why the chicken crossed the road or what the priest and rabbi are talking about can actually help with the flow of blood. Laughing increases blood circulation to deliver oxygen and other nutrients to your body. It also fights stress and allows muscles to relax. And when your muscles are relaxed, it lessens the strain on blood vessels which can reduce pressure.
What do you call it when a cardiology student flunks out? Heart failure!
Laughing in the Face of Danger
Laughter is great to keep things in perspective. It helps you push through long and tedious tasks. Much better than whistling while you work, especially if you’re changing diapers. A good frame of mind comes from being relaxed and enjoying the moment. A mind at ease can calm and reframe your life.
How do construction workers party? They raise the roof!
Whether for health reasons or your own sanity, laughing can help you get through your day. In the comment section, let us know your favorite joke or what gets you laughing. And remember, a boomerang that doesn’t work is a stick.