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World Laughter Day – 7th May
World Laughter Day - 7th May
Celebrating the benefits of a good laugh
This Sunday 7th May is World Laughter Day. Celebrated on the first Sunday of May it was an idea introduced by Dr. Madan Kataria, founder of the Laughter Yoga movement. We all know it’s good for us to laugh, but do we know why?
Laughter as ‘the best medicine’
Charlie Chaplin was spot on when he famously said, ‘A day without laughter is a day wasted’. Laughter is a powerful medicine. It decreases stress as the brain releases endorphins – ‘happy hormones’ – which flood into our bodies and make us feel relaxed. This strengthens our immune system, can radically diminish pain, and protects us from the damaging effects of stress.
Laughter even protects the heart as it improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect us against cardiovascular problems.
Almost nothing works faster to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. With so much power to heal, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a wonderful resource for dealing with problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting your physical and emotional health. And it’s free!
Laughter can also brilliantly connect us to other people which makes us feel good about ourselves and less alone. It is usually a shared sense of humour that helps us make and keep friends in the first place.
It’s not surprising that one of the desirable traits sought for in a partner is a ‘good sense of humour’. If someone can make us laugh, they make us happy, even if it’s just in the moment. They are usually the same people who don’t take themselves too seriously and hopefully can laugh at themselves too.
Laugh and the world laughs with you
Laughter is contagious. Hearing someone else laughing primes the premotor cortical region of the brain and makes us laugh too. Hence the reason TV sitcoms use laugher tracks.
Laughter relaxes not just your mind but the whole body. A good belly laugh will leave your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes afterwards. It also burns calories. Laughing for 10 minutes a day can burn approximately 40 calories alone — which could be enough to lose three or four pounds in a year. Laughter also reduces the levels of stress hormone cortisol, which lowers the metabolism. This means laughter improves your metabolism so your body will naturally burn more calories.
Don’t know whether to laugh or cry?
Have you wondered how it’s possible to laugh and cry at the same time? By crying, the body attempts to return to a regular level of functioning. There is even evidence to suggest that the same part of the brain controls both crying and laughing. During laughter, muscles in the diaphragm, abdomen and face are expanding and contracting. This is why your face aches and belly hurts after a good ‘belly’ laugh. Pure joy.
Seeing the funny side
Shared laughter is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships fresh and exciting. All emotional sharing builds strong and lasting relationship bonds, but sharing laughter also injects joy and a sense of companionship. When we laugh with one another, a positive bond is created. It would be hard to spend too much time with some-one who never got your jokes!
Laughter helps us to open up and be more vulnerable, creating opportunities for us to share our feelings and laugh in the face of difficulty.
If you bring humour into your thoughts, it helps to override the inner critic which many people suffer from. If we can remain playful, we find ourselves much more able to cope.
As children we laugh hundreds of times a day. Babies begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born.
A History of Laughing
- 10 million years ago! The first hoots of laughter from an ancient ancestor of humans were heard at least 10m years ago, according to a study made of giggling primates.
- Fast forward to about 359 BC – oldest known joke book is written! Philip II of Macedonia asked his friends to write down their funniest jokes.
- 2nd BC – playwright Plautus mentions books of jokes. Plautus’ comedies are the earliest Latin literary works to have survived in entirety.
- 4th AD – oldest surviving book on jokes, ‘Philogelos’, contains 265 jokes in Greek categorised into subjects including teachers, scholars, eggheads, and fools. In 2008, comedian Jim Bowen tested the material on a modern audience, and it seems thy stood the test of time. One of the jokes in ‘Philogelos’ has been described as ‘an ancestor of Monty Python’s famous Dead Parrot comedy sketch’…time for a re-make?
Did you know?
- Animals laugh too, especially rats and chimpanzees. Laughter as communication is found in over 60 species of mammal. Humans and chimpanzees share similar ticklish areas of the body such as the armpits and belly. Apparently, rats that laugh the most also play the most and prefer to spend more time with other laughing rats.
Laughing hyenas aren’t always happy. Their cry is from both fear and excitement. During breeding season, giggles may echo from hyena territory! Maybe this explains how our nervous laughter is a physical reaction to stress, confusion, or anxiety rather than humour.
The longest ever comedy stand-up show according to Guinness Book of Records was 80 hours and 5 minutes’ long, in 2015 in Nashville using multiple comedians.
Not so funny is katagelasticism – taking pleasure in laughing at others. This can be common with narcissists who deeply fear being laughed at by others whilst loving laughing at others. One to be avoided…
10 ways to see the funny side of life
- When you hear laughter, move towards it.People are usually happy to share something funny as the feel-good factor multiplies. Every comedian appreciates an audience.
- Spend time with playful people.They’re the ones who easily find the humour and absurdity in everyday events. Their playfulness will be contagious.
- Bring humour into your conversations.Ask people, “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today? This week? In your life?”
- Watch a funny movie or listen to a fun podcast instead of the News.
- Visit a comedy club.
- Play with a pet or goof around with children.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously and laugh at your mistakes. Instead of feeling embarrassed or defensive, embrace your imperfections.
- When something bad happens, see if you can find the humorous anecdote that will make others laugh and feel buoyed up rather than bogged down.
- Find your inner child. Pay attention to children – they are experts on playing, taking life lightly and laughing at ordinary things.
- Smiling is the beginning of laughter and also contagious. Smile at people in the street, the person serving you a coffee, whoever. Notice the positive effect on them and you.
No Laughing Matter?
If you are a long way from laughing or feel that life is not as joyful as it could be, cognitive hypnotherapy can help you find a fresh perspective and might just re-ignite your laughing gear.
I am a Quest-trained cognitive hypnotherapist. This form of therapy encourages you to let go of fears and limiting beliefs. The techniques are designed to reveal the ‘you’ who is having the most fun being you and handling the inevitable difficult stuff of life in more positive ways. techniques
Call me on 07989 535527 for a free 20-minute consultation.
|Alison Scott @AlisonS39; #worldlaughterday|
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