When I speak about the power of laughter, it’s amazing how many people really don’t seem to care much for it. As I said in my last post, sometimes we equate laughter to a lack of sincerity. But is that such a bad thing? Do we really have to be so straight-laced and somber all the time? What’s wrong with letting your hair down and having a little fun?
The thing is, most people are quick to agree that laughter is good for us, mentally, physically, and spiritually. We’ve all heard the saying “laughter is the best medicine”, but do you really know just how powerful it is?
On the surface, we notice an immediate release from internal stress. You just feel good. Your blood pressure and heart rate increase momentarily, similar to a mild cardiovascular workout. But after the laugh is over, they both drop below their previous “resting” levels, and they stay that way for an extended period of time.
Almost immediately, laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like Cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), dopamine, and growth hormone, while releasing endorphins and neurotransmitters that are known to fight pain. It also increases the production of antibodies that boost the immune system. And according to some studies, it has been shown to fight certain types of cancer. Best of all, it’s free. It’s there for anybody who chooses to enjoy it.
So why aren’t we laughing more often? Ask people that question, and you’ll get some pretty creative answers.
“I’ll laugh when I find something to laugh about.” Well go look in the mirror. Make faces like a three year-old. Better yet, make faces at a three year-old. Laughter is contagious. If all else fails, stand in front of a full-length mirror, strip down to your underwear, and jiggle a while (do this at home, and preferably not in front of the kids).
“It hurts when I laugh.” No it doesn’t. Okay, maybe if you just had abdominal surgery and you pop a couple of stitches. Otherwise, you’re probably safe. Besides, think of the fun you’ll have repeating the story to the doctor when he has to sew you back up. No guts, no glory (no pun).
“If I laugh I’ll wet my pants.” So go ahead, laugh it up. You’ll give the rest of us something to laugh about, too. And if that’s just too personal, go into a public restroom stall and laugh yourself dry. Then you can come back out and share a few laughs with the rest of us. Meanwhile, it’s a safe bet you’ll have the restroom all to yourself.
“I don’t have time to laugh.” Then you don’t have time to live, my friend. Go put on your best suit, comb your hair, put on a little makeup, and climb in a coffin. You’ll save the rest of us time later. Because life without laughter is as hollow and empty as a rusted out oil drum. And it’s just about as appealing.
So what’s holding you back? Hopefully, nothing. I hope you strive each day to be more childlike, to find delight in the things around you, and to laugh at every possible opportunity. And if the people around you can’t keep up – well, find some who can.
Copyright 2011 – Dave Glardon