LAUGHTER: A Potent Pill
You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing. — Michael Pritchard
We all have that one friend (well at least I hope you do) that makes you laugh whether they are trying to be funny or not. Without even swallowing a pill, you must realize, they are medicine for your soul.
Deepak Chopra once said, “the healthiest response to life is laughter”. Those who surround themselves with people that make them laugh are generally less depressed, healthier and more optimistic. Not taking life so seriously and having a go-with-the-flow-attitude will leave you more fulfilled at the end of the day. Laughter is like the master switch to wellbeing for your body and soul.
Being around people who laugh is highly contagious, an infection that should be welcomed into our lives, homes and workplaces. Have you ever been around someone in a fit of giggles? It is very hard not to succumb. I remember this happening on a regular basis, to my mother's horror, at Sunday mass. Once it started, I just couldn’t stop. Then my sister and my brothers… I’m sure there was no hiding our jiggling bodies as we tried to remain silent. Then, someone would eventually “snort” or make some other inappropriate sound, and it was over. It was exhausting--like holding your breath. But it always seemed to happen in church--or somewhere that silence was preferred and even the memories make me giggle.
Laughter boosts the immune system by increasing lymphatic flow which, in turn, releases your immune soldiers in the form of T cells, B cells and NK cells. These cells are essential to fighting off your bodies unwanted invaders. Laughter also provides increased oxygen flow to the brain which helps to optimize problem solving, memory and clarity.
Endorphins are neurotransmitters associated with improved mood and pain reduction. Laughter releases endorphins in almost the same way as physical exercise does. This rush of endorphins can cause increased tolerance to pain or rather, decreased perception of pain.
All individuals are exposed to many forms of stress in their lives and it is how they perceive their stress that will ultimately dictate the toll it will take on their physical body. Laughter reduces the effects of stress by providing a platform that is “in the moment”. Think about it, you cannot be depressed or anxious in the moment of a hearty belly laugh. Even that small moment is a potent delivery of medicine. Don’t underestimate the power of being with those who make you laugh when it comes to your health. Remember, good health does not come in the form of a pill. For the vast majority of us, it comes from laughter and love.
The ability to acknowledge mistakes without becoming angry or frustrated plays an important role in developing resilience. Laughing at our mistakes allows us to recognize we are only human. This realization and allowance makes for a much happier life. Something that influences and benefits those around us as well.
Do you have that group of girl or guy friends that when you recall the memories of being with them, most of it is laughter? KEEP THEM CLOSE. SEE THEM MORE. Even just an occasional night out is food for the soul. Take vacations or weekends whenever you can. Although these priceless intervals of time can be hard to schedule and plan, there are many scientific studies to support the benefits of spending time with friends. This has the most incredible healing power. I am blessed to have the most amazing friends and we do try to plan a getaway at least once per year. As we are getting older, I’m thinking it may be beneficial to give up some of that precious luggage space for a few Depends as there always seems to be that moment you are just laughing too hard and squeezing your legs together no longer seems to work as well.
Psychologist William Chopik from Michigan State University says, "Keeping a few really good friends around can make a world of difference for our health and well-being, so, it's smart to invest in the friendships that make you happiest." He also noted that friendships may be more influential on our happiness and health than other relationships, so it's worth taking the time to make plans to be just with friends. This may seem like a jab to your family or partner, but it is not. As someone who has been with the same partner for 36 years, having great friend circles only enhances our healthy relationship.
Visit the Laughter Online University https://www.laughteronlineuniversity.com/ for more tips and suggestions for putting a bit more laughter in your life.