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A dose of laughter: Fringe benefits of chuckle

Most of us think that laughing is only an involuntary action toward funny moments, but you might be surprised of what else it can involuntarily—and beneficially—do in return to the rest of our body. Everything from a quiet giggle from your friend’s jokes to a deep-rooted belly laugh from your favorite entertainment show can change your entire mood for the day. Chock full of physical, emotional, and social benefits, laughing does not only makes us ecstatic, but allows us to live longer and healthier.

 

2Art by John Chesleigh Nofiel
Instinctive builder

The feeling of being alive after bursting into tears from laughing at your classmate’s punch line or watching Just for Laughs Gags together with your friends is one of life’s best free treasures. For us festive Filipinos, laughing doesn’t require a lot of effort which is why with just a laugh, our body could easily shed weight, as published on the article: 14 ways to effective weight loss. Besides, the adage about laughter being the best medicine is doctor-approved and recommended.

“Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health,” says Dr. Paul E. McGhee, president of The Laughter Remedy in Wilmington and a pioneer in humor research. Proven scientifically, the whole body can relieve both its physical and mental stress and feel at ease due to laughter.  According to Dr. Stanley Tan, an endocrinologist at Loma Linda Medical Center, laughter makes our body less vulnerable to infections by increasing the proteins in our blood that help fight against disease. While increasing our immunity, laughter also gets rid of our stress-causing hormones by establishing a wall to block its flow, breaking mental pressure that could deteriorate our health.

Aside from dealing with stress, laughing could also be a body-building tool. Oxford evolutionary psychology professor Robin Dunbar found that repeated forceful exhalation of the breath from the lungs is the same as the body’s activity during aerobic exercise when the muscles of the diaphragm have to work hard. Similarly, “Laughter Yoga,” a practice in which you can burn up to 40 calories within 5 to 10 minutes of laughter, equally the same as opening the blood vessel just as when you’re jogging, says National Geographic website. Not only can laughter be incorporated in yoga, its surprising benefit causes the muscles in your stomach to expand and contract, the same as with exercising your abs. That’s why laughter can be incorporated as a fun abdominal workout, which makes it less of a hassle than going to the gym or running in the oval.

We might all be taken aback how laughter works in supplying us happiness and fitness. It’s a great way of establishing fun while experiencing exhausting activities, bringing out the energetic side in each one of us.

 

3Art by John Chesleigh Nofiel
Positive mantra

It’s quite inevitable for us to feel down especially when there are tons of problem we need to face and we don’t even know where to start. That’s why a laugh can brighten our faces as well as our mood, like we Filipinos are known for being one of the happiest people in the world. Humor can naturally lighten burdens in life by carrying away all our anxiety, making us feel focused and alert throughout the day.

Likewise, laughter dissolves distressing emotions and replaces it with a jolt of energy that enables us to stay focused on our workload. Dr. Lee Berk, an associate professor who paired with Dr. Stanley Tan in teaching pathology at Loma Linda University, found that when we laugh, our brain’s pituitary gland releases endorphins. These are hormones that induce the feelings of pleasure and a sense of euphoria, bestowing us with a more rational way of thinking, which will be handy for students this incoming school year.

With this rational thinking, our outlook in life shifts toward positive thoughts, beating our habitual skepticism. As Catherine Rippenger Fenwick, the author of Healing with Humor, quoted: “Your body cannot heal without play. Your mind cannot heal without laughter. Your soul cannot heal without joy.”

As laughter holds the obligation of making sure that we recoup from whatever life throws at us like problems, sorrow, or even pain, it also serves as a source of new hope––to cherish every present events.

 

4Art by John Chesleigh Nofiel
Closer ties

According to Forbes website, we humans are all social beings, and by this, everything we do is much better when shared with others. Like a contagious cold but with brighter benefits, laughter is easily passed along with each other. In this manner, laughing is more fun with the squad or even with a stranger turned acquaintance, building strong relationship foundations or even creating new ones.

As a matter of fact, a humor-infused type of conversation tends to create a positive bond with other people. As cultural anthropologist Mahadev Apte says, “Laughter occurs when people are comfortable with one another, when they feel open and free. The more laughter there is, the more bonding within the group.” With these social benefits given by laughter, it doesn’t only strengthen the relationship itself, but our collective bond as well. That’s why even a corny knock-knock joke is a light conversion starter or an effective (if cheesy) tool for breaking the ice during a seminar.

Oftentimes, trying to initiate things with other people may seem hard, but laughing could break the awkward silence by establishing a rapport that could bind people.

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The truth of the matter is, laughter doesn’t only give us a bundle of joy but it also serves as a cure for our body that enables us to withstand all our pain, stress, and predicament in life. So have the courage to crack that joke (no matter how corny they may be) and laugh just a little bit longer. Make use of this priceless medicine for it will give you a spoonful of perks.