As texting becomes our primary mode of communication, our loud and boisterous bout of laughter’s been reduced to a 3 lettered made-up word – LOL (Laugh Out Loud). We are here today to tell you that it’s about time we take laughing seriously. That means not just typing LOL but actually laughing out loud as often as possible.
Comedy and humor have been a part of our society for centuries. In fact, humor has flourished in the toughest times. Humor has saved many lives during wars, helped people get through depression, and made the world just a little more livable when things were grim.
But before we go any further, take a few minutes to watch a cute/funny cat video. Guilt free. We assure you, this is good for your health. So banish those nay-sayers and indulge.
Now that you are in a better mood, let's continue. And remember, we made you laugh. And also busted the myth that cat videos are bad for you. So do us a favor and read this article in its entirety.
While we intuitively know that laughing is good for us, we don’t take it seriously. If we did, we would be carving out time to do things that tickle our fancy and make us laugh. We believe that laughter cures many emotional and mental ailments.
Here are a few reasons why we need to laugh more.
Laughter releases happy hormones
Think back to a time when you laughed a lot. So much that your stomach hurt, and you just couldn’t stop giggling, no matter how hard you tried and how dire the situation was. Now think about how you felt, during and after the laughing episode. Did you feel happy? More connected to others? Relaxed? How were you feeling on the inside?
We bet that despite every tough thing going on in your life, you were feeling good. You were feeling like everything is going to be okay. Even if it was just for a few minutes. This is because laughing produces hormones in our bodies that make us feel happy and satisfied. They make us feel good from within, not just from without.
But laughter affects us in a much more visceral way. It relaxes our entire body. We go from survival mode to growth and repair mode. It boosts our immune system and protects our heart since it is also distressing. What’s more, laughing also burns calories.
Laughter makes us less judgmental
When we laugh with others (remember, never at others), we agree on something. It may be the silliest of things that make us laugh, but when we laugh together, we see a situation that inspires strong and positive emotions in all of us. No matter how different we all may be as people when we can laugh together, it builds a positive connection between us. It breaks down the unseen barriers and reaches over the differences to something good within all of us. We become less judgmental of each other and accept our differences. We often see the vulnerability in others that we may not otherwise.
If you can’t agree on anything with someone important in your life, try watching something funny together. We bet there is one funny movie or video that you both can laugh about together. Laughter has the ability to bring people together. And it makes our relationships stronger. When we laugh together, we build fond memories together that we remember for a lifetime.
While we’ve all heard of laughter therapy (and how it works wonders on people), laughter is so much more than that. Laughter can heal emotional distress. When we can make jokes and laugh about a situation, no matter how bad, it gives us the ability to talk about it. When we make a joke in our distress, we are accepting what we are going through and are choosing to laugh about it. We are channeling a strong negative emotion into a strongly positive one. Laughter can help us unburden ourselves and talk about our emotions in a way that feels good to not just us but to those around us. Humor gives us a way to cope with our distress and talk about difficult emotions that we'd bottle up otherwise. While laughter may not put us out of our misery, it can sure help us look at it differently.
Laughter reduces power imbalances
Comedy and jokes have been used throughout history to reduce power imbalances. When a comedian makes fun of the king (or politicians, celebrities, etc.), it shifts the power balance in the society even if it is just for a few minutes. It playfully conveys the message that at the end of the day, we are all human, imperfect in our own ways.
If we look back to the history of comedy, we see it flourishing in politically challenging times. The situation is so grim that there is nothing more to do than to joke about it. So many comedians through the ages (and even today) continue to talk about serious political issues using humor. Many have turned humor into a business. Famous publication, The Onion, continues to report on news in a humorous, pun-tastic way.
Many charismatic orators make a joke at their own expense before they speak to a crowd. By making a joke about themselves, where the public laughs, the speaker instantly makes themselves relatable to everyone in the crowd at a personal level. This makes the message that they convey after the joke more approachable, and acceptable. If not, we are at least willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and listen to their ideas openly.
Laughter reduces negativity
Laughing changes our mood completely. If you are genuinely laughing, it is really hard for you to be negative at the same time. As we discussed earlier, laughing reduces negativity and forces to look at even dire situations from a different perspective. If we are experiencing humiliation (say, for instance, we burp loudly), making a joke about it reduces our embarrassment. When someone else jokes about themselves, we look at their negative quality as their vulnerability. If wielded well, humor can be a good tool that can help you out of many uncomfortable situations.
No matter how you look at laughter, it is good all around. It may just be that silver bullet to address the emotional, physical, and societal issues we all face in a different way. Think about it. You can laugh anywhere. You don’t have to be in a certain size or shape or color to laugh. You can laugh for no reason at all. It has so many benefits that there are laughter clubs and there is a whole kind of Yoga dedicated to it, Laugher Yoga. Comedy and humor are also book genres. From cartoons to movies to animation films to standup comedy -- all formats of the film are used to just help you with one thing – to make you laugh.
We would like to end this article with a little note of caution. Laughter is good all around, laughing at the expense of someone else is not. Laughter is not an excuse for bullying, calling someone out, making fun of someone’s inabilities, or for getting off the hook for something you are responsible for. We urge you to stop callousness and create an environment of inclusivity and support for one another. Let's celebrate our differences instead of using laughter to deepen the divide.
Today, here is our hope for you. We hope you have a wonderful, belly-jiggling, tear-jerking, and loud-snorting laugh. We hope that laughter gives you the tickles and the giggles.
Leave a joke in the comments if you’d like to share a laugh with us.