I love the people who make me laugh and always take note of who provides me with my first good laugh of the day. And with the stress of the past few weeks, the occasional humorous moment has come as a great stress relief, and been even more appreciated.
In Elder Wirthlin’s most recent conference talk he suggests, “The next time you’re tempted to groan, you might try to laugh instead. It will extend your life. . ..” My friend Jenny thought it was interesting he would suggest that laughter could make us live longer, and so she decided to do some research and see what other benefits there could be to laughing. Here is what she found:
1. It Helps Manage Your hormones.
So laughter might not be the cure all for monthly mood swings, but it can help manage other hormones. Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones and increases the level of health-enhancing hormones.
2. It provides a nice internal workout.
Forget about all those ads for ab diets and workouts; just learn to laugh. A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even works out the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed afterward. It even provides a good workout for the heart. Laughing 100 times is the equivalent of 10 minutes on the rowing machine or 15 minutes on an exercise bike!
3. Physical release.
This one won’t come to a surprise to any female . . . Laughter provides a physical and emotional release. Crying does as well, but as Sister Hinckley said, “I prefer to laugh, crying gives me a headache.” I found this to be very true in the past couple weeks when I was spending my days at the hospital. In all the stress of watching monitors, waiting for lab reports and holding our breath for the next doctor visit, I appreciated the male patient who went running down the hall, in an effort to catch his wife because he remembered something he needed to tell her. Unfortunately he was too late, but the expression on his face when he noticed several people staring at him and then watching him sheepishly back down the hall to his room, clutching his gown closed behind him, was priceless and kept me giggling for a long time afterwards.
4. Changes your perspective.
Humor can give us a more light-hearted perspective on events we might otherwise view as a threat. Oh, how true is this! I found the greatest tool in averting discord in my marriage was to have a good sense of humor. It is also a great tool to help smooth over otherwise difficult situations.
For example . . . when my son was a teenager, I encouraged him to attend the youth dances and ask to dance girls who might not otherwise be asked. He reluctantly agreed to do so. One night he noticed such a young woman, and asked her to dance the next dance with him. Immediately the girls standing by her began to giggle, and the girl he asked hesitated, looked over at a man standing by a group of boys and smiled at him and then accepted my son’s offer. My son quickly realized he had just asked a married chaperone to dance. (She assured him her husband was not the jealous type:-) Ryan came home mortified and determined to never follow my advice again. But our fits of laughter eventually won him over, and he began to see the humor in what happened.
5. Has social benefits.
Laughter is contagious, so if you bring more laughter into your life, you can most likely help others around you laugh more. What’s even better is that the more you smile, the more others will too.
I saw an example of this one day while in Sicily with my friend Lisa. She was walking just ahead of me and smiled at an older , grumpy looking Italian man who was walking towards her. His face immediately went from grumpy to happy and for several yards he still had that smile on his face.
6. Fights illness better.
People who are optimistic (who are out there laughing) have stronger immune systems and are actually able to fight off illness better than pessimists.
7. Helps you live longer.
According to some recent research published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, elderly optimistic people, those who expected good things to happen, were less likely to die than pessimists. (That is a direct quote. It really did say they were “less likely to die,” so I guess if we can always be really happy, we may live forever!:-)
8. It feels like eating 2000 chocolate bars.
That’s right — according to The British Dental Health Foundation, a smile gives the same level of stimulation as eating 2000 chocolate bars. And oh, so many less calories!
9. It costs absolutely nothing.
And in today’s economy, that is a very good thing!
So there you have it. You can manage your hormones, make friends, improve your figure, be happy and live longer—all by having a good laugh! And that will, of course, bring great. . . . joy to your journey!