First there is the social benefit. Laughter strengthens relationships, attracts others to us, enhances teamwork, helps diffuse conflict and promotes group bonding. Can you think back to laughing with your friends so hard tears were leaking from your eyes? That was just last week, right?
Using humor in relationships allows you to:
- Be more spontaneous. Humor gets you out of your head and away from your troubles.
- Let go of defensiveness. Laughter helps you forget judgments, criticisms, and doubts.
- Release inhibitions. Your fear of holding back and holding on are set aside.
- Express your true feelings. Deeply felt emotions are allowed to rise to the surface.
The mental benefits of laughter include: adding joy and ZEST! to life, easing anxiety & fear, relieving stress, improving your mood and enhancing resiliency. When the job is going to be tough, boring, dirty and just plain so-not-fun, would you rather tackle it with:
A: smiles and laughter, or
B: the “oh woe is me” attitude? If you picked A, go to the head of the class!
Now for the good part: the physical benefits of laughter. I don’t know if you can find a report to definitely say that laughter is the best medicine, but I’ll bet my bottom dollar on it. It is said laughter may boost your immunity, lower stress hormones, decrease pain, relax your muscles and prevent heart disease. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free and easy to use.
Laughter makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.
More than just a respite from sadness and pain, laughter gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope. Even in the most difficult of times, a laugh – or even simply a smile – can go a long way toward making you feel better. And laughter really is contagious — just hearing laughter primes your brain and readies you to smile and join in on the fun.
Now there will be those folks who say that there are some places where humor is just not appropriate. Well, perhaps not outright guffaws and rowdy back-slapping, but humor has its place in helping us through the hard times. My father was known as a mischievous prankster. At his wake, my large, Irish family all sat quietly in the chairs that stood in nice straight rows. As I watched, old stories went from one person to another. Soon there was laughter in the air. Those chairs were turned and twisted around to face each other. I could feel my father nodding with satisfaction with the state of affairs.
So go ahead, give it a try. Just start smiling randomly at complete strangers. Pass along that funny joke you heard. Call up acquaintances and invite them over for game night. Be silly! Don’t take yourself too seriously. Put that twinkle in your eye and soon the spring in your step will follow. As that old-timey song goes:
Keep on the sunny side,
always on the sunny side,
keep on the sunny side of life.
It will help you everyday.
It will brighten all your way
if you keep on the sunny side of life!