1. Don’t draw undue attention to yourself and
2. Don’t invade the personal space of those around you.
I felt more than saw that apparently I’d both attracted attention and invaded personal space. And then I realized what I’d done. I’d laughed out loud. Not a huge noisy guffaw, more like a snort, but audible, all the same.
Did you know it’s actually easier to laugh out loud (without knowing) when one has a headset on? Well, it is. And that cartoon hit my funny bone, big time. I got over my embarrassment soon enough. But the chuckling stayed with me all day burbling up whenever I thought of that hilarious cartoon.
I like to laugh. Do you?
Some people laugh more than others. Some people hardly laugh at all. They’ve actually studied how many times a day people laugh and found that adults laugh on average 15 times a day. Children laugh twice as much. Different things make different people laugh. But, humans laugh. It’s one of the things that set us apart from other creatures.
Other than fun, what good is laughter? We’ve all heard the adage, “Laughter is good medicine.” And there’s a Yiddish proverb that goes like this: “What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.” We know we need soap, especially on these hot humid days of July! So we must need laughter too.
Have you ever thought so seriously about laughter?
Researchers have. It’s been known for a long time that laughter helps people cope with the troubles of life. We’ve even known it helps people deal better with major illnesses, like cancer. The newest research show that not only is laughter good medicine, it is super good medicine with both immediate and long term benefits for our health and wellbeing.
Laughter helps us fight disease by balancing our immune systems.
Laughter reduces stress hormones.
Laughter calms us down when we are agitated, angry, or tense.
Laughter increases cells that fight tumors and viruses.
Laughter can even provide a full body workout. Yes, it is a form of aerobic exercise. Researchers estimate 15 minutes on an exercise bike and 100 good laughs produce about the same aerobic benefits. Think of it, when you laugh you use your diaphragm, your abdomen, and the muscles of your face, legs, and back.
Sometimes people have stored up anger, fear, or sadness inside that they find hard to let out. These emotions can cause damage to us when held inside. Laughter can help release negative emotions without harm and in an easy fashion. In this way, laughter can be very cathartic.
Laughter is good for relationships too. When you laugh with others, it is contagious and can change the mood of a whole room immediately. Haven’t you been in a tense meeting that is greatly improved by a good laugh? Or with family members when the mood is going downhill fast and then, someone says something funny, laughter erupts, and the room suddenly feels lighter? Next time you and your spouse are gearing for a conflict, try laughing together instead of fighting. You’ll probably find the conflict eases and maybe disappears.
We naturally laugh when we find things funny. But we can encourage ourselves to laugh, even when things aren’t so funny. Remember a funny joke, situation, or story. Tell it out loud and laugh. Go to a funny movie or watch a comedian. Or even, just make yourself start laughing in a forced way. It’s actually quite funny to do this and the benefits are still present, even when laughter is forced. Make friends with people who like to laugh. Spend time with children who are naturals at laughing.
So laugh awhile.
Even on the train.
Put your whole belly into it.
And then do it again.