Your Brain, Your Heart and Your Body Will Thank You — and So Will All Your People

We are watching the COVID-19 body count rise every day, looking around the house at the ones we love (who are now getting on our nerves), and stressing about the future of work.

Whenever I hear another ad or commentator talk about “uncertain” or “unprecedented” times — so we know they are being current — I want to snarl at them.

What does neuroscience recommend? That we start laughing.

The theory is that, as a species, we learned to laugh before we learned to speak. We used laughter to show others that a danger had passed or that we weren’t a threat.

The laundry list of brain, heart and body benefits from laughing are impressive:

  • Releases endorphins: these are the feel-good chemicals in your brain
  • Creates bonds: because laughter is contagious, we can start this positive wave in a group, which also helps us feel more connected and safe
  • Reduces depression: it releases the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is a natural antidepressant
  • Improves mental health: it reduces physical and emotional tension,while improving mood, enhancing cognitive functioning, and increasing friendliness
  • Strengthens the heart: it has an anti-inflammatory effect that protects blood vessels and heart muscles from cardiovascular disease
  • Short circuits anger: this is one of the best ways to diffuse conflict — with others and even within yourself — because it’s tough to carry resentment and bitterness after a good laugh
  • Helps you live longer: studies show people with a good sense of humor outlive those who don’t (thank goodness!)

Depending on which study you read, we laugh an average of between eight and 20 times a day. Doesn’t sound like near enough in these times.

Here’s my dubious effort to boost that by at least a chuckle today.

If you were amused by “Home and Deranged” and would like to know the lyrics (without having to listen to me sing it again), you can download them here.

It might help to know that “fake it ’til you make it” actually does work with laughter. Even if you’re not really amused by something, or don’t feel like laughing, a fake laugh has all of the powerful positive side effects as a true belly laugh. (You may have needed to pull one of those out for this video.)

Share a laugh with the people in your life today. Even if they groan, you’ll have done them (and yourself) some good.