What a sad state of affairs when you don’t have a laugh. Laughter is a key ingredient to good mental health. It calms the soul and relaxes the body. In fact, research shows that laughter is an excellent medicine that can actually change the physical well-being of those suffering from illness. Laughter reduces the stress hormone, Cortisol when you laugh. It also expands the lungs, allowing the oxygen to flow to the lungs and exercises the muscles in your body. It also increases your energy.
Laughter also helps calm emotions. Try being angry or anxious when you are laughing. It is hard to feel negative when you are chuckling. It also helps you be more self-confident and spontaneous when around others.
Apparently, our brains are involved with the emotion of laughter, especially the limbic system and hypothalamus. It affects our decision-making, our well-being, our judgments and in solving problems. As endorphins are released into the brain when laughter occurs, it magically changes our mood and lightens our heart, and problems seem more manageable.
So, what can help this “One Who Doesn’t Have a Laugh”, laugh? An article by Marelisa, “How to Laugh More – 22 Ways to Bring More Laughter into Your Life”, has some good suggestions that help improve laughter skills. As she points out, at least initially, there has to be intent. You may have to work at it. Setting a goal to increase your laughter helps you follow-through, just like setting goals to exercise. Other suggestions include: Smile more, befriend a funny person, find a little kid you can hang out with, get a pet, play fun games with friends, learn to laugh at yourself, put laughter quotes up on a bulletin board, do more of what makes you laugh, imagine something that you find really funny and stay with it…. and reading and expressing jokes or funny stories. So, this is an effort to get you started:
OwlCityOfficial, found in Funny Beaver Jokes, gave a great example of a funny short story: “One time in 1st grade I caught a daddy long legs and put it in a jar and brought it to school for show and tell and all the boys cheered and all the girls screamed and then I opened the jar and let the spider crawl onto my hand and suddenly the girl sitting in the front row screamed so loud and shrilled that I violently jumped back in surprise and the spider got so emotionally confused it jumped off my hand and sailed across the room and landed on some kid’s forehead and the kid immediately went insane and started thrashing around and headbanging and punching himself in the face and kicking desks and chairs and other kids trying to get it off and the entire class erupts into a volcanic explosion of prepubescent chaos and everyone is running around in circles screaming and crying and shaking and then my teacher jumps onto a desk and shouts “FOR NARNIA” at the top of her lungs and dives headfirst into the crowd and takes out the entire class with a flying tackle and everyone goes down in a hog pile of 1st graders and the whole time I’m just standing there in awe and the whole time the spider is like, ‘Ugh, seriously guys, I don’t need this right now’”.
Claudia A. Liljegren, MSw, LICSW
St. Williams Mental Health