Laughter really is great medicine. When was the last time you had a fantastic belly laugh? Laughter has been shown to not only be good for you but is contagious. Have you ever found yourself laughing with someone just because they were laughing? It was as if their laugh was infectious and despite not actually knowing what they were laughing about, your bout of unrestrained amusement left you feeling great!
Studies have shown that laughter offers one of the most powerful and natural healing methods without any side effects. According to a recent study by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, laughter, along with an active sense of humour, may help protect you against a heart attack. This study is the first to indicate that laughter may help prevent heart disease. They found that people with heart disease were 40 per cent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease.
Why is Laughter So Good For You?
The positive effects of laughter are attributed to powerful chemicals released in the brain called ‘endorphins’. These are stronger than any painkiller created artificially by man. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as ‘euphoric’. That feeling, known as a ‘runner’s high’, can be accompanied by a positive and energising outlook on life.
How Much Laughing Should You Be Doing?
Apparently, all that is needed to gain the benefits of these little powerhouse chemicals is ten hearty laughs per day5. This comes naturally for children, who apparently laugh on average 200 times per day4. Whilst the average adult laughs a lot less than this at an average of 15 times per day4. At what point do we start to take life so seriously? Perhaps when responsibilities start creeping up, when aches and pains start creeping in, and when life just seems too hard. But that is where laughter, even if it is feigned outbursts of joy, can help us to overcome life’s challenges. Perhaps try to incorporate some belly laughs into your day. May I suggest watching a comedy on occasion, go out of your way to remember jokes to share with others, learn to enjoy the company of those annoyingly happy people, and most of all let us learn to laugh at ourselves and life more often.