Did you know there’s a secret universal language out there that every human on earth (and many animals too) speak fluently? I’ll give you a few hints… It’s silly. It’s contagious. And, it may hold the key to staying young at heart, regardless of what life throws your way.
I’m talking about laughter!
If you think about it, laughter is pretty strange. Some might consider it to just be an involuntary bodily function, but if you look a bit closer, you’ll find that laughter provides extraordinary benefits for the body and soul. Let’s explore the scientific side of why we laugh in the first place, and then giggle our way into alllll the great reasons why we should seek it out as often as possible.
Your laugh is like your fingerprint!
We’ve all been at a restaurant and heard an outrageous kackling come from across the room that spawned our own outburst of laughter. Why do we find this so funny? Is it because our curiosity is imagining what they could be laughing about? Is it just that the person’s laugh is just so unbridled that it brings us joy to be in its presence? The answer is probably both.
Each person’s laugh is as unique as a snowflake, no two people have the same laugh. But the really interesting part is, us humans have an uncanny ability to decipher if a laugh is fake, even if it’s our first time hearing someone laugh. If you are a “ha-ha”er or a “hee-hee”er, or you just simply gasp and vibrate, others will know if it’s the real deal.
Like a yawn, but better.
Every school teacher can attest that yawning is contagious. But did you know that laughter is too?
Laughter is especially contagious amongst children. As a former young girl who was known to unleash giggle fits upon the classroom, I can completely vouch for that!
Laughter is almost always a social behavior. And according to YouTube creator and scientist, Dr. Joe Hanson, people are thirty times more likely to laugh in social situations than on their own. The same is true for monkeys and other animals like rats, who too, display laughter in social situations.
Up for a laugh right now? Check out this video by Dr. Joe Hanson from Be Smart. He unwraps the science of the many mysteries behind why we laugh, some hilarious examples of how laughter spreads, and how it can be used in different social scenarios.
I hope that video gave you a hearty chuckle! Follow Dr. Joe Hanson on Instagram for more entertaining science content.
This next video is sure to make you laugh too…
If you would like to see how quickly laughter can spread in an everyday situation, check out this awesome video of contagious laughter amongst strangers on the subway.
Why is it so important to keep laughing?
Laughter really is the best medicine. Not only does laughing improve our mood, but it opens us up to some remarkable benefits for our health and wellbeing.
Some of the short-term benefits of laughing is that it stimulates many of our internal organs. (Talk about an ab work-out too!) Laughing enhances our intake of oxygen-rich air, and stimulates the heart, lungs, and muscles, while increasing endorphins (the feel-good chemical released from the brain).
Additionally, some of the long-term benefits of laughter include stress and pain relief. When your body produces less stress hormones, the lower the risk of heart disease becomes. It even gives your immune system a good overall boost! 2
Humor can also really help in the healing process for patients with chronic illness. That’s why medical clowning has become a thing! Check out the article we wrote about Medical Clowning here:
Are Clowns Making Us Healthier?
Could a clown actually improve your health? For thousands of people in hospitals around the globe, these funny characters are their ticket to success! With a surprising range of benefits, medical clowns are improving how we approach healthcare. Check it out!Read More
Equally as important as the physical health benefits, laughter can do wonders for our mental health.
Sharing laughs is a beautiful way to connect with our loved ones. It aids in overcoming loneliness, and can be a nice way of helping one another through those tough days when the world feels heavy. Laughter is also a great tool for diffusing awkward situations and tense conversations that are tricky to navigate.
As Dr. Joe mentions in the video, laughter is especially helpful for couples. Ever gotten into a fight with your significant other over something dumb or trivial? Stepping back and looking at the humor in these situations can really break the tension and make you realize how silly a fight really is! As a result, the problem usually solves itself, or someone may be more willing to compromise.
Laughter can make problem solving feel less stressful, and bring a light-hearted sense of ease to otherwise unpleasant disagreements. Couples who can laugh together tend to stay together and have healthier relationships in the long run.
Furthermore, if you’ve ever battled with depression or anxiety, humor can be a healthy way to cope. In fact, depression is very common amongst professional comedians, many of whom fell in love with comedy as a way to channel their energies into something positive.
Dive into our article about it! It features some of our favorite funny people like Sarah Silverman and Rainn Wilson…
How Comedians Are Changing the Way We Approach Depression
What can some of the world’s funniest people do when they open up about mental health? Comedians like Sarah Silverman, Wayne Brady, Chris Gethard, and Rainn Wilson are helping us better support the ones we love and ourselves!Read More
Seek out those belly laughs!
I’m not suggesting that laughter is the magic cure for everything, because there are lots of things in life that are not funny and absolutely deserve some seriousness… But if you look through the right lens, you’ll find that there is a lot of humor hiding out there in our everyday lives. I challenge you to go find it!
Next time you have the opportunity, invite a friend to a comedy show to laugh out loud and proud! And when your reusable shopping bag busts at the seams in the parking lot and your groceries spill out everywhere…just pause and laugh. Why? Because you can. And when you do, it will tickle the funny bones of those around you, and that joy will spread like wildfire.
Keep laughing and notice the beauty around you!
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- Be Smart. “Why Do We Laugh?” YouTube, 27 July 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WzVMZunzaM. Accessed 29 July 2022. ↩
- “Stress Relief from Laughter? It’s No Joke.” Mayo Clinic, 2021, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456. Accessed 29 July 2022. ↩
Published: August 15, 2022
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