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How and Why to Laugh, Even When it’s Hard

May 1, 2020

Sara Schafer

Healthy habits always take work, but here’s one that will be fun to build.

Researchers suggest the average American should laugh 15 times or more a day for health maintenance, according to the University of Missouri Extension.

If you don’t take time out for pleasure and always look at things in a serious or negative way, you are more likely to have health problems in the future. In addition, if you skimp on laughter, you may actually be less productive and effective than you would be if you took a break for a little humor during the daily grind.

Why does laughter bring benefits to your everyday life? The University of Missouri Extension shares these four points:

Laughter can actually make you feel better. Laughter is a tool to lighten up your mood. It also gives you opportunities to reduce conflicts and increase social interaction. Good laughter is like a social lubricant to help break the ice and ease social tension, which makes you feel better and confident even when communicating sensitive or serious information.

Laughter reduces stress. Some physicians report laughter can result in muscle relaxation, which helps reduce stress and headaches. Laughter also can help you release pent-up feelings of fear, anger and anxiety. Put another way, laughter is an emotional weight-loss technique—it helps you feel lighter and healthier.

Laughter is good exercise. Laughter has been called internal jogging. When you laugh, your muscles are activated, oxygen floods the blood and the cardiovascular system dilates. Laughter can also stimulate the production of endorphins in the brain, the body’s natural pain-reducing enzymes. When endorphins increase, feelings of pain decrease. Laughter can extend to every internal organ, giving them a healthy massage.

Laughter builds stronger teams. Good laughter can help pull a group together and build a bond among group members. Laughter and humor can increase group cohesion, which also can enhance group problem-solving skills.

With long days due to spring planting, weather delays and the constant feed of COVID-19 news, you’re probably running a little short on your laugh quota. How do you provide yourself with a steady supply of laughter? Start with being positive. Practice seeing the glass half full instead of half empty. 

Give yourself some rewards and time out for joy. If you are a serious person and seldom laugh, set a goal of 15 laughs a day until it starts to become a habit. Begin to look for humor and laughter in everyday situations. 

Remember these wise words from Mark Twain: “The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.”


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