Laughter may seem like all fun and games, but it has some serious benefits too. Every time you laugh, whether it’s a giggle or a guffaw, your brain is flooded with a cocktail of endorphins and serotonin. The former helps kill pain, and the latter gives you a jolt of happiness — like a one-two tickle to your system.
When you laugh, the heightened activity in your heart, lungs and circulation also helps to boost your immune system and further lift your mood. And the best part about it is you don’t need to go to the doctor to get new laughter prescriptions: you just need to hone your sense of humour.
Using laughter as your guide, you can actually train your sense of humour to find the good in trying situations, making them easier to navigate. And by building on what you already find funny and keeping your mind open to new LOL-worthy experiences, you can profoundly contribute to your wellbeing.
A sense of humour doesn’t just help at parties, it’s closely tied to whole life satisfaction and even success at work. Studies have shown that laughter helps us cope in times of stress, trauma & grieving. For instance, researchers have found that emergency personnel rely heavily on humour to cope with the upsetting realities of their jobs, and high-performing students manage their pre-college anxieties by converting them into comedy.
Everyone, no matter their circumstances, can use humour to strengthen their resilience and help focus on the good, rather than the not so good. One study out of the University of Western Ontario discovered that people who use coping humour in challenging situations are more likely to see the challenges as positive opportunities for growth and change, rather than negative obstacles. This puts them at an advantage when it comes time to tackle the tough stuff.
Open yourself to new and old kinds of humour through funny shows, books, stories, YouTube videos or a visit to your local comedy club.
Be Open to New Amusements: Always look for opportunities to expand your sense of humour to include new jokes, material and styles. Use your empathy to see what makes others laugh and see how you might find it funny too.
Make a Playlist of Laugh Tracks: Not actual laugh tracks but tracks that make you laugh. Build a funny playlist on your computer or phone. Plug into your playlist or browse your bookmarks when you need a pick-meup, or to freshen up your own comedy routine.
Fake It ‘Til You Make It: And if the funnies just aren’t coming, try going through the motions. Start chuckling and remember this tip— fake laughing feels more like the real thing when it reaches your eyes—so use your whole face. If you try it with someone else, it can even be contagious. The even better news is that you can enhance your sense of humour by tapping into your growth mindset. With a growth mindset engaged, try including some of these behaviours and activities in your regular routine to help you expand your humour horizons.
Photo of two ladies laughing credit
Credit: © Huu Hung Truong, Vietnam Open entry, Smile, 2013 Sony