The Science Of Laughter

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Everyone has heard of the saying “laughter is the best medicine”. It is said to be good for the heart and make us feel good inside. Whether you are with your friends, family, around strangers, or even by yourself, laughter can come out of nowhere; it is a fundamental part of our daily lives. Laughter is “speaking in tongues”, but not by religious ardor, but by an unconscious response to social and linguistic cues. The best thing about laughter is that everyone has a different, unique laugh, ranging from high to low pitched, loud to almost no sound, and ranging in length and overall character. Not only does laughing make ourselves and the people around us feel good, but also has been proven to show health benefits as well.

First, let’s talk about the health benefits of laughter. It reduces pain and allows us to tolerate discomfort. “Laughing it off” is sometimes the best way to go, especially when pain is involved. Science shows that it reduces blood sugar levels, while increasing glucose tolerance. It also helps establish or restore a positive emotional climate and sense of connection between two people. Science even shows that it helps your blood vessels function better. This is where the quote “laughter is good for the heart” comes into play. Laughing acts on the inner lining of the blood vessels, called the endothelium, causing the vessels to relax and expand, increasing the blood flow to the heart and brain, so in other words, it sends more oxygen to the places that need it most.

Although laughing is such a prominent aspect of our daily lives, science shows little research on why and how we laugh. A social study done by Psychology Today concluded that the speakers they observed laughed almost 50% more than their audiences.The study also showed that ordinary comments and questions like “where have you been” and “it was nice meeting you too” are more likely to make someone laugh than an actual joke. Only 10% to 20% of the laughter episodes followed anything joke related. In whole, this study concluded that the critical stimulus for laughter is another person, not necessarily a joke. Another study showed that laughter was thirty times more frequent in social than solitary situations. No matter how happy we feel or how happy we are, laughter is a signal we send to others and practically disappears when we lack an audience. I mean, unless you are just so hilarious, that you make yourself laugh. Ha. ha.

Laughter is something we do unconsciously, and it is extremely hard to do it genuinely and consciously at the same time. Laughing on command is more forced than anything and most likely will not produce a genuine and meaningful laugh. Surprisingly, there is a difference in the amount of laughter expressed by gender. Science shows that women laugh 126% more than their male counterparts, and males tend to do the most laugh-getting. Another factor of laughing is that it can be contagious. I think we have all been put into a situation where you solely just laugh because other person is laughing. Laughter is possibly the best feeling you could have, and the fact that it connects and brings people together is even better. So do not forget to laugh today, it’s more important than you think!

By: Claire Imazu

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