Have you ever surprised a little child? Maybe you’ve hidden under a blanket and popped out, saying, “boo.” After a second of fright, the toddler can’t help but burst out in a laugh. You do it too.
Kids are amazing. They can quickly forget everything around them and release a huge belly laugh. We grown ups, on the other hand, are sometimes afraid to laugh at what’s genuinely funny because of social norms or thoughts that others may judge us if their sense of humor is different. Society cautions us against laughing flippantly.
But there’s more than a surface level of what’s going on when we laugh: laughter benefits us and those around us without doing harm to anyone.
We take care of ourselves the best we can by exercising, eating well and soaking up some vitamin D when relaxing in the sun, but what don’t we add a dose of funny to our day as well?
Laughter is simply a puff of air and vibrations of our vocal chords. We chuckle and smirk at jokes, slap our knees at funny videos, and even laugh and make jokes when we are faced with fear or the unknown.
We don’t need to think to enjoy a good laugh. It happens automatically and is part of what makes us human. I’ve always imagined aliens visiting us and becoming confused when the see and hear laughter (or dancing to music for that matter). But laughter is not a cultural phenomenon, it happens across all races, genders and nationalities. It’s ingrained in our human nature. Even other-abled infants who are both deaf and blind laugh. So laughter has to be more than just a goofy noise we make when we expel bursts of noise and air, right?
Sure, you may have sore stomach muscles a few hours after a laughing fit, but laughter has no harmful side-effects. It’s actually beneficial for everyone (and a few animals too). And, just a yawn, it’s highly contagious. Scientists have studied laughter and it’s affects:
Of course you can’t tickle yourself into laughter (go ahead, try). But here’s something that my surprise you: fake laughter can turn into legitimate, real laughter. Try this: Take a few deep breaths. Next force our a laugh. Notice how silly you sound, but keep on laughing. Don’t stop. Next, all of a sudden you may find yourself genuinely laughing. This sounds a little nuts, right? But there actually is a study that backs this up. Six people participated in what’s called laughter yoga classes. (I wonder if they’ll soon replace goat yoga with laughing hyena yoga? –that’s a joke). The results showed genuine laughter, increased mood, a more friendly nature, a healthier heart, and a reduction in long-term anxiety.
Or, of course, you can attend a comedy club or hire a comedian or funny magic show for your next group gathering.
Doug Scheer’s Laugh Factory Magic Show is a family-friendly, 100% zany and goofy magic show that’s filled with dozens of silly stunts that kids and parents love. If you’re in charge of laugher in your children’s school consider bringing in this assembly show and have a great hour of laughter. It is the best medicine.