If you look back at some of the best moments of your life, you’ll always find laughter. Laughter can make your heart swell and pump with vitality. According to the Mayo Clinic it can do all this:
- Stimulate all those organs inside you plus make your brain feel as if you just had chocolate or engaged in a healthy bout of awesome sex. You breath in (and out) a lot of oxygen rich air; the same as you do with the aforementioned.
- Level out your stress levels. They go up and down and settle into a peaceful easy feeling afterwards (i.e., see food and sex above). Plus once you settle into that relaxation, your muscles unknot.
That feels good and that’s just for the short term.
Long term benefits are said to improve your immune system, relieve pain, increase self-satisfaction and improve mood.
But, according to a study on WebMd and a psychologist by the name of Provine, “…evidence that laughter has health benefits is iffy at best.”
He goes on to add: “Laughing more could make you healthier, but we don’t know,” he says. “I certainly wouldn’t want people to start laughing more just to avoid dying — because sooner or later, they’ll be disappointed.”
Now, that’s funny.
Why Do We Laugh?
One study suggests that we’re hardwired to laugh. We used it as a form of communication millions of years before we could speak. Babies laugh and they don’t understand jokes. Other studies show we laugh “30 times as much when we’re with others than when we’re alone.” I know I always want to watch a comedy with my hubby or friends instead of by myself. Laughter is contagious and I don’t need to read a study to determine that.
But what about laughing when we’re not supposed to?
When I was at my Dad’s funeral almost two years ago, I was sitting with my family in uncomfortable wooden pews as people filed in to pay respects. Music was quietly playing over the speakers and a hymn came on, the kind that makes you want to stick a fork in your eye, and one that did not sound like my Dad.
That hymn did not sound like him. Not even a little bit. The term, caterwauling, comes to mind.
I pictured him in my mind, with one eyebrow raised, saying, “Brig,” in that way he always did. Then he moved both eyebrows up and down before breaking out into laughter, a good, good belly laugh.
I had to bend over to hide my face. My body literally shook with laughter and I’m sure most there thought I was crying. I was crying, sad, yes; but I was laughing my ass off at that moment. I mean holding my stomach, tears in my eyes, fearful I couldn’t stop and gain my composure kind of laughter.
Laugh Til’ It Hurts
I love the kind of laughter that hurts, where you can barely catch your breath.
When we lived in New York and were experiencing the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, we’d venture out during the day. Hubby had time off and we had no electricity and no service of any kind. We’d have to drive to another town to get cell service and warmth and would spend hours in a diner or at Starbucks with others who were doing the same. We’d listen to these horrible stories of people losing everything. There was bleakness and sadness, but a strange grateful camaraderie was blended in with all of it as well.
This particular day was about the fifth day of “roughing it.” It was around 4:30 p.m. and getting dark. We had to go back to the cold, dark house where we’d light a fire in the fireplace, burn candles and huddle with blankets until we fell into a uncomfortable sleep while helicopters shined their lights into yards to make sure people were safe. Anyway, as we both got into the car, Hubby looked over at me and sang loudly:
Back to land of the ice and snow with the midnight sun and the cold winds blow! Then he waved his arms around, threw his head back and screamed this:
I know, it’s not the correct lyrics to Zepplin’s Immigrant Song but it worked to lighten the mood.
We both laughed so hard, it hurt. But it was a stress-reliever and levity, we needed it badly. Laughter was the medicine that made us sleep a little sounder that night.
Good Times, Bad Times, You Know I’ve Had My Share
I seem to be relying on Led Zepplin to get my point across which is this: Laughter really can save you from tragedy and make your heart and soul feel hope and joy again. Maybe, it doesn’t just heal broken hearts and spirits but physical ailments as well.
Whatever it may do or not do, it still feels so good. And we can always use more of that.
What makes you laugh? Have you ever laughed at an “inappropriate” time? What are some of your favorite comedies? Movies? Shows? Jokes?
C’mon, make us laugh. PG-rated please.
Enjoy (you’ll have to watch an advertisement first) one of the best movie laughs EVER, from The Money Pit and if you want, listen to the Immigrant Song afterwards. I’m here to entertain.
Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do. — Kurt Vonnegut
Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke.
Why We Laugh. It’s more complicated and bizarre than you might think.
Photo creds: Don’t Laugh, Baby Laughing and Ostrich Head.
Laughter is the only way to deal with severe stress. There is always something so ridiculous about the predicament if you think about it.
Loved the Zeppelin scream!
Hey Susie! You, of all people, know about how laughter relieves stress. And you’re right, there is always a ridiculous side to most anything. So great to see you here and thanks for stopping in. I love that scream too. ;).
I had to laugh at the serious “Doctor’s” assessment of laughter. Oh no! We wouldn’t want people to try laughter to see if it made them healthier – they might be disappointed! Really?
I love to laugh, Brigitte, especially when things get too serious. I think my favorite comedy of all time is “Young Frankenstein.” Also just about anything Mel Brooks has written. The sillier, the better – “Men in Tights, Blazing Saddles.” They still make me laugh – a lot!
Thanks for the great post this morning, Sweetie. Loved it!
I know, right??!! Talk about a Debbie Downer. I think it’s a protective mechanism for most of us to laugh, even in the saddest of times, and a healthy one at that. Young Frankenstein is one of my all-time favorites as well — so many double entendres — “Roll, roll, roll in the hay!” And, “Nice Knockers!” So many lines I can quote. I love Mel Brooks too. How about “Princess Bride?” Remember Billy Crystal, “We were out storming the castle” in that NY accent. Just perfect.
And thanks, Cathy.
Thanks for the chuckle today. We are currently experiencing our own Stormageddon and it is good to be reminded that blue skies will follow and that for now laughter is the way to go.
Hi Allan! Long time no see and so glad to see you. That’s right, you’re in the San Fran area right? And, what the weather-gasm people are calling the Pineapple Express — ? Stay safe and warm! And here’s to many good laughs for you and yours.
Sometimes I think we laugh because the alternative is too painful, which is probably why people sometimes crack up in funerals (like you did 🙂 ). But it does feel good to laugh, doesn’t it? It’s such a bonding experience to laugh with others, and it elevates everyone’s mood. That might not make us live longer, but it’s bound to make life more fun in the meantime!
I love that you included a clip from The Money Pit. I loved that movie even though the critics didn’t. Lots of laugh-out-loud moments.
I think you’re right, Carrie. It is contagious and feels very good to laugh which is why I try to do it often. Why would critics not like The Money Pit? I loved that movie and there were a lot of laugh out loud moments. When he got stuck in ceiling for hours. Remember The Burbs? Ridiculous, but some funny moments as well.
Ha, yes, the part where he was stuck in the ceiling. Tom Hanks was spot-on in that film.
I did enjoy the movie The Money Pit. Haven’t seen it in years. I always seem to laugh at inappropriate times. Especially when we are supposed to be quiet and solemn, makes me crack up every time. So good to see you Brigitte. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas full of laughter and love.
Hey Jackie! I swear when you hear Tom Hanks laugh like that you can’t NOT laugh, you know? It was a great movie. I’ve got it and will now have to watch it. This laughter post made me think of that right away. Maybe it’s the quiet and solemn that makes things funny sometimes, huh? So wonderful to see you again as well, Jackie and a very Merry Christmas to you and yours. And, I wish the same for you too.
The Money Pit is to laughter what a black hole is to sunlight!
And in full disclosure, I have never seen the movie–I just wanted to make a snarky comment. You know that I frequently opine on subjects about which I haven’t the foggiest idea. It’s a talent. Sort of.
My snarky comment out of the way, this is thought-provoking as always. I’m surprised to hear that science hasn’t found a link between laughter (honest laughter, anyway) and good health, because I DEFINITELY believe one exists. Tears and sorrow have an important place in our lives, but light and laughter are almost always better, I think.
I love, love, love your story about finding something to laugh about at your dad’s funeral. A similar thing happened at my mom’s funeral. We were tamping down the dirt on her grave and my aunt said something like “At last, I get to step on my big sister!” or something like that. It looks bad when I see it in print, but it was really funny and said with love.
Snark away dude, I’m laughing anyway. And, you should see The Money Pit because it’s funny. I think there’s a link as well, Smak. I’m not a doctor, a rocket scientist, a physicist (and/or any number of really, really smart people), but I’m a doer, a thinker, a philosopher of sorts and my sort of smart matters as well. It just makes sense. Any activity that releases stress, promotes all those feel-good hormones and happy within and brings, as you so eloquently stated, “…light and laughter..” it just has to be good for you, mind, body and spirit.
Thanks, I’m glad you understand about my displaced — ? (not really, it was a personal thing between my Dad and me) humor. I think what your Mom’s sister said doesn’t look bad at all. Quite the opposite — it’s loving humor to someone who got her and would appreciate it. And that’s a very good thing.
Everything you’ve had to say about laughter including all the a’s, and’s and the’s, I completely I agree with, Brig. It’s very cathartic and definitely rates right up there alongside great sex and food. When I reflect on my life, if I did not have the capacity to joke about what I’m going through on a daily basis I would have long ago swan-dived off my roof. But, even in tough times, like when I was helping my sister oversee our dying dad’s hospice care last summer, there were moments of levity. I don’t recall what they were, because that was such a period of blur, but it was there. My siblings are by nature two very witty people, as was my dad (Mom was an unrelenting snarkologist). That has always been how my family has rolled. We’re not depressed types and I feel very lucky about that.
As for laughing in inappropriate places, when I was a kid who was forced to attend Catholic mass, church was always a one-way ticket to the laugh-a-torium. Every geriatric’s sneeze, cough or honking nose blow was enough to set me off. It was as if we were praying in an infirmary. I evolved into the atheist I’ve been for the past 40+ years purely for the health benefits.
A’s? And’s? The’s? Huh?
I know how much you can relate to humor, V. Your aura is one of humor which is a good thing and I’m really glad you have such a great sense of it because throwing one’s self off a rooftop is not an option. The world is a better place with humor, laughter. Therefore, albeit, vis a vis, I’m glad you’re in it. I don’t think I’ve used vis a vis correctly but I just wanted to throw it in there for emphasis.
It doesn’t surprise me that you and your siblings had mirth while getting through tough times. It’s a survival thing, for me, especially through rough days. Even snarkologists can be funny. Sarcastic and biting but funny. I think smart people usually do have a good sense of humor.
I too, through my Protestant upbringing, remember the bodily noises in services, including snores. Or when my baby sister would drop a marble and it’d roll all the way down to the pulpit, loudly among deafening silence. We, having been always late to service, would be seated in the back. My Mom would be packing toys and pop tarts to keep us quiet and/or amused.
Thanks, V and here’s to more funny.
I’ve been working on my schtick lately. I remembered that not only do I need to laugh, but I need to be funny sometimes. Hubbies are the best for trying out your material, and definitely the best for laughing with you at inappropriate times. Here’s one of my favorite places to get my giggles.
Oh I want a schtick! And you are right, A, Hubby always laughs at my antics. And I do his. Of course mine are better and he will agree. Ha! Great to see you here at my place. Thank you!
You had me at “banter.” Great post. Laughter rocks for a billion reasons
Welcome Gratu! All old souls are most welcome here. Thanks and hope you’ll stop by again for laughs and introspection.
Gratu, that’s a new one. You are clever
I have my moments. Thanks!
I’ve noticed that as I’ve grown older, I’ve been laughing more. Back in 7th grade, a girl once told me that I had a weird laugh which then proceeded to make me extremely self-conscious for the next couple of years. Luckily, I grew out of it but that was a serious Debbie Downer moment for me. Laughter doesn’t need to be judged or overanalyzed, it’s just a pure expression of positive human emotion.
While I enjoy laughing both by myself and in the company of others, my favorite moments are the ones when someone says something, there’s a split-second pause, and then everyone bursts out in laughter that then continues into a second wave because everyone had to catch their breath before finishing off the laughs. I’ve been lucky enough to have friends with whom this happens on a regular basis and it’s always such a remedy to whatever stress or emotional baggage I was carrying around. Great post Brigitte, my day always feels better when I see a new post from you in my inbox. 🙂
Well, I’m very glad you’re laughing more! I’m sure you have a wonderfully infectious laugh. What is wrong with people? What kind of person tells a person they have a weird laugh? I hope that person isn’t in your circle of influence!
I know the funny you’re describing. It’s like, wait….what? And then, you crack up. My sisters and I can do that–laugh uncontrollably at seemingly unfunny things. And now my heart is warmed. What a wonderful thing to say to me. My heart says thank you back to yours. Your posts are just that — heartwarming.
I remember that. Although it was COLD and miserable, we did make the best of it and sometes laugh just like Tom did for what felt like the same reasons. I’m glad that we spent that time together. I love you.
We make the best of everything and oh the places we’ve been (and will go). Love you back, yo.
I love Sylvester and Debbie Downer. Laughing is the best… You are so right. It heals the soul and makes us feel so good with the people we are with.
You’re making me laugh. The kitty is Pepe Lepew’s girlfriend and well, Debbie Downer is hilarious. You and I, now we have some good laughs even if they are virtual. You’ve given me several virtual soul heals. Yo sista.
Thanks, A for well, you know. ;).
Im a dummy
Hi, Brigitte. Laughter means everything to me! It’s a wonderful way to feel closer to people and it is also good for your health, I believe.
Missed you! Have you taken time off or am I not getting your posts for some reason?
So great to see you! I think it’s great for one’s health too. How can it not be? I was out of blogging for awhile and do so now, every once in awhile. I miss it and the wonderful community of people like you. Thanks so much for stopping by. I need to visit you too!
Hi Brig, that was a very good post. Laughter truly is a hobby of mine, never get bored of it. Hope you always have that ‘need to maintain composure’ kind of laugh because that’s the best one there is! 🙂
Hi Andie, thank you. From your beautiful blog, you appear to have laughter all around you. Welcome!
Thanks darling. I enjoy reading your posts so positive ❤
There are about 1000 reasons why I love my husband, but definitely in the top 5 is: he makes me laugh. I don’t care what the doctor says, laughter is good for the soul, and therefore good for our health!
Hi Erin! I know what you mean, gotta have a hubby with humor! And yes, you are right — good for the soul, indeed! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Same to you! Wishing lots of laughter for you and yours this season.
When it comes to funerals, I suspect many of us would prefer that people have a good laugh over the good memories and good times spent with us rather than shed tears of loss. At least, let there be a mix of the two when I go….
Like you and others, I believe that link between laughter and health exists, even if we can’t yet see the connection. So during this highly stressful week, I’ll try to find something to laugh about. Thank you for reminding me to do so!
Hi J, hope you’re great. At that point I think it had a lot to do with delirium as well but I know he was laughing with me anyway. And I agree with you, a mixture.
I hope you find much to laugh about. It is the season for that! Much love and Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and all of it — to you and yours. Thanks, J.
I just like to laugh, Brigitte. I’ve done my share of crying, and I look, and feel, sooo much better after a good belly laugh than I do after a soulful cry that I’ll stick to laughing! lol xoxoM
I so understand what you mean, Margarita and it’s wonderful to see you here again. Thank you and here’s to a year filled with laughter.