Laughing impacts the human body in four main ways (neurologically, biophysically, biochemically, energetically), which in turn can benefit us physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and even spiritually.
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Let’s talk briefly about the science of laughter.
The idea is not to make you more knowledgeable about what to say to others but to help you understand how you have been impacted by it throughout your life.
Laughing impacts the human body in four main ways, which in turn can benefit us (or not) physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and even spiritually.
Neurological Impact, Through The Transmission Of Nerve Impulses
Elevates pain threshold and tolerance. Laughter is respectfully regarded as the most easily accessible analgesic for pain. Laughter may also break the pain-spasm cycle common to some muscle disorders. It helps people forget about the pain.
- In a study of 35 patients in a rehabilitation hospital, 74% agreed with the statement,” Sometimes laughing works as well as a pain pill.” These patients had various conditions, such as spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, arthritis, limb amputations, and other neurological or musculoskeletal disorders.
- I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the story of Norman Cousins, who raised a lot of public awareness about the healing power of laughter and positive emotions following his miraculous 1964 “laughter recovery” from a fatal illness, ankylosing spondylitis (a rare form of degenerative arthritis). He claimed that 10 minutes of belly-rippling laughter would give him two hours of pain-free sleep, where previously nothing, not even morphine, could help him. His story baffled the scientific community and inspired a number of research projects. His 1979 book Anatomy of an Illness is a classic (You may be able to watch the movie for free at http://lou.pm/ncm.)
Biophysical Impact, Through Pressure Waves
- Exercise. Physical fitness stemming from laughter is a benefit known to few. Some people call it a form of soft gymnastics or stationary jogging. The mere act of laughing exercises the diaphragm and the abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg, and back muscles. This is because the diaphragm is attached to a lot of other muscles, which is why laughter jogs all your internal organs. Laughter is essential for seniors as well as bedridden or people who use wheelchairs. It requires no special equipment, environment, or clothing and is a fun – rather than tedious – way to enhance one’s daily well-being.
- Less stress, anxiety, and tension. Laughter is the #1 natural enemy of bad stress because they are physiological opposites. The predominance of one tends to prevent the other. The predominance of one (deeper breathing and laughter) tends to prevent the other (fear). A clue to this may be found in the body’s typical actions after extreme stress of the fight or flight kind: deep panting and using laughter to make light of events that provoked fear.
- More relaxation. All relaxation response is exhalation based. Laughter causes breathing, which manifests as a brief inspiration followed by a pause and then a long, jerky expiration. This results in a stimulation of the vagus nerve – the longest nerve of the autonomic nervous system and one of the most important nerves in the body – that happens to go through the diaphragm, which means that its movement stimulates it and through it, the parasympathetic (relaxation) response.
- Increased immune system’s defenses and improved natural defenses against illness. Laughter helps to provide longer exhalations, thus ridding the lungs of residual air and enriching the blood with ample supplies of oxygen, the lifeline of our system. It also helps to improve the cardiac vagal tone, an indication of your body’s capacity to regain calm after you’ve been in a stressful situation. The low vagal tone has been linked to chronic inflammation throughout the body, which is a known risk factor for heart failure, stroke, and diabetes. It also improves the flow of lymph and, therefore, all immune functions.
Biochemical Impact, Via Neurotransmitters And Hormones
- Helps to naturally create a healthy DOSE of well-being (dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, endorphins.)
- Reduces stress, anxiety, and tension and counteracts depression symptoms.
- Elevates mood, energy, and vigor.
Energetical Impact, Through Electromagnetic Field Interactions
- Creates a new perspective. Change our perception of the world and redefine stress from “threat” to “challenge.”
- Changes our mental map from NMA (Negative Mental Attitude) to PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) by releasing negative thoughts and emotions when we are down.
- Improves interpersonal interaction, relationships, attraction, and closeness.
- Increases friendliness and helpfulness and builds group identity, solidarity, and cohesiveness.
- Promotes psychological well-being.
- Elevates self-esteem and hope.
- Builds resilience.
Now let’s talk about you
The best way to talk about the science of laughter is not to repeat something you’ve read but rather to share your personal experience because nobody can argue against that.
- Physical benefits. Have you ever experienced pain, somehow laughed, and the pain was reduced or disappeared altogether? Or maybe experienced illness and found that laughter gave you strength and helped you heal faster?
- Mental benefits. Have you ever experienced stress or tension that laughter helped to dissipate? Or experienced that laughter got you out of a negative frame of mind?
- Emotional benefits. Have you ever felt sad or somewhat depressed and experienced laughter making you feel better almost instantly?
- Social benefits. Do you ever laugh with your close friends, and how does this make you feel? Have you ever been in an argument with someone, felt isolated, and experienced laughter bringing you all together? Do you prefer to work with or for people who laugh or are angry? Why do you think that is?
- Spiritual benefits. Have you ever experienced nature laughing? Or a state of peace and oneness with all after a good laugh?
- If you have never experienced any of the above, do you know or have you heard of people who have?