Given that humans are innately social creatures, community ties and intimate connections are essential to both present and long-term happiness
A 2017 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience reveals how social laughter, or “contagious laughter,” triggers the release of endogenous opioids in the brain. As we laugh together, this release both makes us happier and bonds us together. In the words of the philosopher and psychologist, William James,
“We don’t laugh because we’re happy, we’re happy because we laugh.”
But the benefits of laughter stretch beyond making us live longer, feel happy, and enjoy stronger connections to our social support networks. How else can laughter improve one’s health and wellbeing?
The Physical Benefits of Laughter
- Boosts immunity: Laughter has the power to strengthen the body’s endocrine system and increase infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving resistance to disease.
- Lowers stress hormones: Prolonged stress can cause everything from ulcers to tinnitus and brain fog. Laughter decreases cortisol levels by increasing oxygen intake and stimulating the circulation of feel-good chemicals throughout the body.
- Decreases pain: Laughter both helps people forget about pain and improves pain tolerance by spurring the body to produce endorphins, otherwise known as “happy hormones.”
- Relaxes muscles: Aside from being a terrific ab workout, laughter also strengthens another muscle: the heart. In general, the stronger the heart, the stronger the circulation of blood and oxygen, and the less tense muscles feel.
- Prevents heart disease: Approximately 610,000 people die of heart disease every year in the United States, according to the CDC. Laughter is considered an excellent cardiovascular workout that reduces inflammation and boosts “good” HDL cholesterol.
The Mental Health Benefits of Laughter
- Eases stress and anxiety: Laughter mimics taking a deep breath in that it pumps oxygen through the body and helps to calm us down.
- Improves mood: Laughter can turn negative experiences into positive ones. In addition to improving your outlook and perspective on the world around you, a positive attitude uplifts others.
- Strengthens resilience: Laughter is a powerful tool for resolving conflict and seeing the bright side of almost any situation. It’s not just a quick pick-me-up. It also creates strong memories that can remind you of your strength further down the road.
- Reduces stress: By unleashing feel-good hormones, our stress hormone levels decrease, and our bodies are detoxed from stress hormones, cortisol, and epinephrine.
The Social Benefits of Laughter
- Strengthens relationships: Humor is a powerful tool to heal resentments, disagreements, and hurt. The laughter-fueled release of serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins bonds individuals together for the short and long-term.
- Attracts others: A person who laughs a lot tends to have an attractive and healthy glow. And by sharing a laugh with someone, we also communicate that we share the same worldview, at least in part.
- Enhances teamwork: There’s a reason workplace culture and team-building is especially conducive to a company’s success. More laughter means stronger bonds and less stress, making work more enjoyable and less exhausting for all.
- Helps defuse conflict: When tensions arise in meetings or fatigue, and stress gets the best of colleagues, it’s helpful for everyone to take a break and be reminded that we work to live– not the other way around!
Where to Laugh in Williamson County, Texas:
Take a moment and have a giggle at a few great places to catch a laugh with your friends, family, or co-workers:
They say that laughter is the best medicine, and over the years, numerous scientific studies have proven that happier people tend to live longer. Along with a healthy diet and exercise, living a happier and less stressful life is one of the keys to longevity. There is no single recipe for happiness, as different people find happiness in different things. However, one thing is certain; laughter is a simple pleasure that can make anyone, whether young or old, feel better.