AFFIRMATION: Laughter restores my spirit.
Laughter is the best medicine and gives us relief from life’s daily pressures. It is one of the languages of our true self, which is pure joy. Laughter allows for the expression of emotion and strengthens our connection with others. It is universal and contagious. True laughter comes from the heart. Many times it is an unconscious reaction—it just spontaneously happens. Laughter is a present we give to ourselves and others.
Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused. — Unknown Author
If I find myself in a bad mood, I try laughing about something. It helps me to not take myself so seriously. There is no room for the mind’s ego in laughter because it arrives from a place of innocence—our inner spirit. It comes in many forms, from a quick giggle to a full-on belly laugh. Even if we have to fake a laugh to get started, it can quickly turn into the real thing. The saying, “Fake it until you make it,” truly applies to laughter.
Laughter and the Brain
The whole brain is in use when we laugh. In a study at Loma Linda University by Dr. Lee S. Berk, EEG monitors recorded people’s brain frequencies while they were watching humorous, spiritual, or distressing video clips. The researchers found that laughter uses the whole brain. Dr. Berk stated, “What this means is that humor actually engages the entire brain—it is a whole-brain experience with the gamma wave band frequency and humor, similar to meditation, holds it there; we call this being ‘in the zone.’ ” ¹
Incorporating laughter into the day is beneficial for our health. It helps to focus and clarify thinking, leading to enhanced performance. Dr. Berk’s studies on the effects of laughter show how it helps bring positive results to the body. “Mirthful or happy laughter is much like moderate exercise and we see the same or similar biological responses to both laughter and moderate exercise. When we laugh, experience a happy event, or when we exercise at a moderate level, we decrease the chronic release of cortisol and adrenalin and increase the release of the endorphins, enhancing the impact, the healthy effects on the immune system.”
Laughter is The Best Medicine
Laughter can be found in many art forms, such as music. The Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann” and “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” by the Beatles are upbeat songs with laughter in the background. Try listening to a silly song like “I Love to Laugh” from Mary Poppins to lighten the mood.
Just hearing or watching someone laugh triggers our mirror neurons and will make us giggle. We don’t even have to know the reason. In A Visit from St. Nicholas (‘Twas the Night Before Christmas), Clement Clarke Moore refers to St. Nick’s “little round belly, that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly.” Laugh so hard the belly shakes. When the body is filled with laughter, the soul is filled with happiness. Laughter lightens our load and is good for our health, making our days brighter and more joyful.
We can even take classes in laughter. The University of California, San Francisco’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine has a Laughter Yoga class. Their website states that our bodies cannot tell the difference between real or simulated laughter, which both have several health benefits.³ Osher Center says their laughter class exercises can reduce stress and pain, enhance endorphin levels, and increase oxygen and blood flow to all major organs. 4 Laughter is the best medicine.
Another way to bring more laughter into our lives is to join a local laughter club. We can literally laugh our way to better health, bringing healing effects to our mind-body system. Even the business world is catching on. Companies can hire laughter coaches to help their employees bond, handle stress, and learn relaxation techniques. Who knew?
Laughter occurs when people are comfortable with one another, when they feel open and free. And the more laughter [there is], the more bonding [occurs] within the group. — Mahadev L. Apte, cultural anthropologist, author
Bringing laughter into daily life is a great pressure reliever, and there are many ways to accomplish this. We can read the comics, watch a funny video or movie, search for a joke online, or call a friend who makes us laugh. One method that works for me is shopping for a funny birthday card. When I relate to the message, I feel instant joy as I laugh out loud. Of course, everyone turns around to look at the crazy woman, but who cares? Sometimes my laughter makes them smile or giggle too. Laughing is the best medicine and makes me feel good and when it comes unexpectedly, it is even more special.
The Gift of Laughter
Personally, I love to laugh. A little laughter when feeling sad helps to pause the grief, even if it’s just for a moment. In the movie Steel Magnolias, Dolly Parton’s character, Truvy Jones, says, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.” It is also one of mine. When I am in a gloomy or negative place, laughing helps me to see there is hope and joy in life. Laughing through tears is God’s way of giving us comfort and a glimpse that everything will be all right, even in times of despair.
To help remind ourselves to laugh, we could get a statue of Budai, the Laughing Buddha, or print out a picture of one. He was a beloved Chinese Zen monk who lived in the tenth century and was known to have a wonderful smile, a large belly, and an open and loving personality. His image fills temples, homes, stores, and restaurants. Legend has it that rubbing his belly will bring good luck, prosperity, and wealth. In Feng Shui, the Laughing Buddha increases abundance, success, positivity, happiness, good health and luck, and joyful blessings. 5
We take many unimportant things in life so seriously, it is laughable. Instead, we can focus on things that bring us joy. Make it a practice to laugh every day, especially at yourself. Remember, laughter is contagious, and by sharing this gift, we connect on a deeper level with each other and to ourselves. Laughter is truly the best medicine.
- Robert Preidt, “Laughter Might Work Like Meditation In The Brain,” CBS News, April 28, 2014, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/laughter-may-work- like-meditation-in-the-brain/.
2. “Laughter Does A Body Good,” Super Consciousness, March 9, 2019, http://superconsciousness.com/laughter-does-the-body-good/.
3, “Laughter Yoga,” Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, University of California San Francisco, Accessed April 16, 2020, https://osher.ucsf.edu/ public-classes/laughter-yoga.
5. Rodika Tchi, “The Role of Laughing Buddha in a Good Feng Shui Home,” The Spruce, October 17, 2019, https://www.thespruce.com/laughing- buddha-in-a-good-feng-shui-home-1274918.