THE LIGHTER SIDE
Someone once told me while I was in the midst of a difficult situation, if there's the slightest chance you might look back on this some day and laugh about it, start laughing now. Granted, this doesn't always work, but it sure has helped me get through some tough times.
In addition to facilitating a perceptual shift, laughter has a lot of other benefits. Studies 1 on humor and laughter from Duke University, Loma Linda University, UCLA and others have shown:
- Laughing helps relax tense muscles.
- It reduces the production of stress hormones.
- Laughter and a positive attitude strengthen the immune system.
- It allows a person to 'forget' about aches and pains and perceive pain as less intense.
- A good laugh is like an aerobic workout for the heart and lungs--increasing the body's ability to use oxygen.
- It helps lower high blood pressure.
- There are no known negative side effects to laughter.
Laughing is a part of the human experience. Recent research shows that "circuits" for laughter exist in very ancient regions of the human brain. Robert Provine, a psychology professor at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, tells us laughter's origin is in tickling and rough-and-tumble play. Laughter is literally the sound of play. 2
Maybe that's why young children laugh over 300 times a day. It's natural. Surprise, surprise: That number falls to 15 with adults. Unlike children who laugh unconditionally, we adults wait to find cause. 3 Which brings up another one of those which-came-first conundrums: Do we grow old because we stop laughing? Or, do we lose our ability to laugh because we grow up?
Whatever tickles your funny bone, add more laughter to your day!