The Power of Laughter by Lisa Hunt-Wotton
Life may be grave but it doesn’t have to be serious.
The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.
There is a definite link between laughing and our physical and mental health. Laughter is a potent medicine. As someone who has lived with chronic trauma I can honestly say that a well-developed sense of humour has been a major key to my survival. This is a legacy that I developed from my birth family and that I have nourished in my adult friendships and relationships. I love to laugh. In fact my children’s nickname for me is ‘boomer’. Yes my laugh can be pretty loud at times as all of my friends will confirm.
About the only thing I don’t find funny is poo and fart jokes, in fact anything to do with bodily functions I just can’t deal. Contrary to my 5 boys and just about every man who I know who find the emissions from their bodies endlessly funny.
Laughing is the best way that I know to release tension, it reduces stress and brings a sense of perspective. I have found that a sense of humor is an important strength for coping with life. Freud, of course, had an eloquent speculation on this paradox. In his 1928 investigation into humor, Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious, Freud argued that laughter was a coping mechanism, a way of dealing with the unspeakable pain of everyday life.
My mother’s family all survived the great depression after WW2 on very large doses of funny. They lived in ‘struggle town’ but were rich with humour. A legacy that has been passed down to all of us. Our get togethers are a constant stream of one liners, pranks, hilarious stories and outrageous giggling. We have all used laughter as a coping strategy for the traumas of life.
This is a photo of my mother, in pink, my sister and my aunt. We are celebrating my mothers 82nd birthday for High Tea at the Windsor. They thought that they were hilarious. I can’t even remember what was so funny – it wouldn’t take much. Can I just add that none of them drink alcohol. This is just a typical day out. (eye roll)
A cheerful heart really is as good as medicine (Proverbs 17:22). There are so many benefits to having a good laugh. I can look back on my darkest days and confidently say that finding the humour in the situation was the only thing that got me through. In fact there is a very fine line between madness and hilarity at times. I choose hilarity.
When I read this article in psych central I realised that I have an addiction to funny as do most of my family and friends. We are all hanging out for the next hit of dopamine.
“A study published in the December 4, 2003 issue of Neuron reported that humor has similar effects on the brain as drug-induced euphoria. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, the researchers measured brain activity in 16 adults viewing funny versus non-funny cartoons. The brain scans indicated that humor not only stimulated the language processing centers of the brain, but also stimulated the reward centers, leading to the release of dopamine, a powerful neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of the pleasure-reward system”.
Here are some of the benefits of laughter:
Laughter is good for relationships: Laughter establishes — or restores — a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between two people, In fact, some researchers believe that the major function of laughter is to bring people together.
Some more tips below taken from an article in the Help Guide: Laughter is the Best Medicine.
Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
Cardiologist Dr. Miller offers a simple prescription that won’t bankrupt you and could save your life. “Thirty minutes of exercise three times a week, and 15 minutes of laughter on a daily basis is probably good for the vascular system,” he says.
Laughter burns calories. OK, so it’s no replacement for going to the gym, but one study found that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn about 40 calories—which could be enough to lose three or four pounds over the course of a year.
Laughter lightens anger’s heavy load. Nothing diffuses anger and conflict faster than a shared laugh. Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding onto bitterness or resentment.
Laughter may even help you to live longer. A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.
Theorist Martin Armstrong, who wrote about the function of laughter in society, may have said it best when he wrote:
“For a few moments, under the spell of laughter, the whole man is completely and gloriously alive: body, mind and soul vibrate in unison… the mind flings open its doors and windows… its foul and secret places are ventilated and sweetened.”
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