Has everyone on earth simultaneously become too serious or is it just me? Doesn’t anyone ever laugh anymore? Everyone seems so angry, so easily offended, maybe it’s overcrowding, global warming, poisoned water, oppression, illness, or the collective lousy jobs with lousy paychecks. Maybe it’s the US presidential elections.
It can’t all be doom and gloom in the world, where’s your sense of humor?
I have often heard the expression, “Laughter is the best medicine,” but is it true? Are we all better off if we just laughed more?
It is difficult to study the effects of laughter, but certain things have been determined. Laughter in many ways mimics exercise. It increases heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, circulation. Laughter dulls pain, decreases blood sugar and increases the immune response. It certainly sounds like the best possible medicine.
People tend to laugh more with others. It is not common for someone to laugh alone, at least not as vigorously as they would with a group. Even if you watch a comedy on TV alone, the laugh track mimics a group of people laughing together and enhances the experience. Laughter may only be a part of the equation. The benefits of laughter may actually come from spending time with others, forming friendships, and strengthening relationships through shared experiences.
Researchers hypothesize that the purpose of laughter is to bring people together, not necessarily to improve health. The health aspects come from people being with other people. All human cultures in the entire world recognize laughter. It sounds the same in all languages. It’s universal. It’s contagious and spontaneous.
It is hard to laugh on purpose. Try it. Right now, wherever you find yourself. Just laugh. Do it. Thank you, don’t you feel better? -Probably not. When it is forced it loses something in translation. That’s why you feel a little weird right now. It wasn’t as satisfying as when the laughter is spontaneous and collective. It just feels better to laugh with others.
Laughter conveys a shared understanding between people. It enhances marital relationships. No one ever says, “I want a partner who never makes me laugh.” Laughter makes us feel good when we are with others so it encourages the behavior of being with others.
I don’t know about you, but there have been moments in my life where I thought I might die from laughing so hard. Control of bodily functions were lost. The gasping for breath between whoops of laughter barely keeping me alive. As “good” as laughter can be for one’s health, could it in high doses be equally bad? Could someone die from laughter?
I don’t know, I suppose anything is possible. I will personally take this on as an experiment. I plan to laugh as hard as I can for as long as I can for the rest of my life until it kills me. I will tell my patients to do the same. LOL.