Laughing is one of the natural reactions of a human organism on external triggers. Individuals stop talking and even breathing while laughing. However, the latter is always seen positively. Scholars keep proving its beneficial effect on the human organism. There is even a “laughter yoga”: as its creator, Madan Katarina claims, “you don’t need any jokes, any humor, or any comedy. You don’t even need to be happy. What we do is laugh in a group and initiate laughter as a form of bodily exercise, but when we have eye contact with others, this laughter becomes real and contagious” (Rosenfeld). Laughter affects various dimensions of human health: from physical to social.
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To begin with, there is a lot of physical health benefits attributed to laughter. For instance, it stimulates the organism systems responsible for the level of stress hormones in the organism. Namely, laughter drops epinephrine and cortisol (Savage et al. 342). Moreover, it activates the dopamine-dispensing reward system of the brain (Savage et al. 342). Overall, laughter contributes to the human ability to cope with the physical symptoms of stress and helps to relieve muscles, for example. Another aspect of its influence on the organism to mention it pain relief: laughter stimulates body production of its natural painkillers.
As for some least expected effects, one could first name boost of immunity. An essential study Hence, when one starts falling sick, it could help to read or watch a comedian piece. Fundamental research was carried out to prove it in 2015 (Ryu et al.782). The scholars tested the level of immunoglobulin (IgA) in the hand-expressed breast milk (Ryu, Shin and Yang 782). Some participants engaged in laughter therapy, and, as a result, saw an increase in their IgA (Ryu, Shin and Yang 782). Secondly, laughter is proven to prevent heart disease. When one laughs, their heart rate grows, and they take more deep breathes. Hence, more oxygenated blood starts to circulate one’s body. A recent study of cardiovascular diseases among older Japanese adults shows that “daily frequency of laughter is associated with a lower prevalence of cardiovascular diseases” (Hayashi et al. 550). Therefore, laughter influences the vital systems of the human organism, while its effect is not always evident for observers.
Meanwhile, not only does laughter contribute to one’s physical health, but it also affects the mental one. It releases endorphins, the so-called “happiness hormones” while decreasing the cortisol level. Hence, laugher mitigates stress itself, not only its physical symptoms (Yim 245). Moreover, it may contribute to one’s fight against depression (Yim 247). What is also important to mention is that laughter is proven to improve the anxiety level and sleep quality of the patients with Parkinson’s disease (Memarian et al. 1465). As a result, laughter therapy has become popular. For instance, the organization “Stand Up for Mental Health” works on applying humor in an individual’s mental healing. Its counselor David Granier “trains people to turn their experiences with mental health challenges into standup comedy routines” (Stand Up for Mental Health). In a word, laughter is demonstrated to be a significant factor in individual mental health.
Finally, speaking of the social benefits of laughter, one should first point out that humor is, in many ways, a personal tool for social interactions. People are 30% more likely to laugh with somebody else. For jokes exchange, laughter commonly occurs during ticking, or play, for instance – all of these situations have social nature (Gruner 20). As much as studies of laughter prove – yet, there is a lot to analyze in this realm – smiling and laughter are initially intended to be a nonverbal message of goodwill among individuals.
As a result, laughter is known to contribute to different realms of social life. First, it has a lot to do with healthy romantic relationships: the ability to laugh together strengthens any relationship. On the one hand, laughter helps to share the bright events and pleasant experienced as partners demonstrate the same reaction. On the other hand, it helps go through the challenging moments that any couple faces together. Moreover, laughter is claimed to be a tool in the post-divorce recovery process that deals not only with individual moods but also with the productive communication later on (Frisby et al. 58). Secondly, one may use laughter as a means of bonding with colleagues. It is the reason why laugher yoga and games frequently become teambuilding tools that, from a long-term perspective, increase motivation and productivity. In other words, laugher may positively impact various dimensions of one’s social life.
To conclude, laughter is a natural human reaction to various activities and triggers: from tickling to playing. It significantly affects one’s health: its benefits for physical wellbeing start from pain reduction and muscle relief and end with immune system development and heart disease prevention. Furthermore, laughter contributes to an individual’s mental health. It stimulates the production of the “happiness hormones” and lowers the ones defining one’s bad mood. That is why there is a lot of laughter-related practices intended to decrease stress and help fight against depression. Finally, it is a vital social tool initially meant to articulate one’s goodwill and the establishment of a favorable relationship. Hence, laughter ends up as excellent means in couple bonding, to say nothing about team building at work, and increasing employees’ motivation. In a word, laughter does have multiple ways to influence individual life positively.
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Frisby, Brandy et al. “The Role of Humor Styles and Shared Laughter in the Postdivorce Recovery Process”. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 57, 2016, pp. 56 – 75.
Gruner, Charles. The Game of Humor: A Comprehensive Theory of Why We Laugh. Transaction Publishers, 2018.
Hayashi, Kei et al. “Laughter is the Best Medicine? A Cross-Sectional Study of Cardiovascular Disease Among Older Japanese Adults”. Journal of Epidemiology, 26, 2016, pp. 546 – 552.
Memarian, Azadeh, et al. “The effect of laughter yoga exercises on anxiety and sleep quality in patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease”. BioMedPress, 2017.
Rosenfeld, Jordan. “11 Scientific Benefits of Having a Laugh”. Mental Floss. Web.
Ryu, Kyung Hee, et al. “Effects of Laughter Therapy on Immune Responses in Postpartum Women”. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 21, 2015, pp. 781 – 788.
Savage, Brandon, Lujan, Heidi, Thipparthi, Raghavendar, and Stephen DiCarlo. “Humor, laughter, learning, and health! A brief review”. Advances in Physiology Education, 41, 2017, pp. 341 – 347.
Stand Up for Mental Health. “About David”. Stand Up For Mental Health: 2020. Web.
Yim, JongEung. “Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter in Mental Health: A Theoretical Review”. The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine, 239, 2016, pp. 243 – 249.