‘A day without laughter is a day wasted’- Charlie Chaplin.
‘Laughter is an instant vacation’- Milton Berle.
‘A smile is a curve that sets everything straight’
People say laughter is the best medicine. Well, they say the correct thing. It is actually the best medicine one can afford. Also, it is low cost, all you need is to find something that makes you laugh or anything funny and voila! You start laughing.
If you Google up the word Laughter you’ll come to know that it is a physical reaction, caused by either external (such as tickling, humorous stories or talks) or internal stimuli (humorous thoughts). Also, when you laugh you give a sense of well being and you spread positivity to the surroundings.
Laughter is an expression of many positive emotional states for example, relief, happiness, joy etc. If one notices closely, one will find that even deaf or dumb people can laugh, babies learn to laugh even before they are able to speak. Laughter spreads joy, it spreads happiness. You can easily give an illusion of well- being and positivity just by laughing.
Laughter researcher Robert Povine has said that “Laughter is a mechanism everyone has; laughter is a part of universal human vocabulary.
Thousand of languages, millions of actions, but everyone speaks the language of laughter in the same way”. The language of laughter is spoken by all, new borns, teenagers, adults, oldies even animals. The act of laugher done by primates and humans (Homo sapiens) are similar as per the experiments conducted in laboratories.
The Science behind laughing
Well, laughing is an act which helps us maintain social bonds. It is an emotion to show that yes we’re happy, yes we find you funny and many more.
If we dig a little deeper and see what actually laughter is, then we find out that it has various benefits on a human body. Scientists have found that our face, tongue or throat isn’t involved in laughter, but it is the activity going on in our ribcage and diaphragm which actually causes the sensation of laughter.
Laughing releases an hormone dopamine or the ‘happy hormone’ which helps us to stay happy and fit. It also releases various endorphins which give a sense of happiness.
Also, there are several sounds associated with it- squeaks, gasps, grunts, hiss- each person has its own way of laughing. It is something contagious, it is something that helps you stay happy when even you’re feeling low.
Also, there is a disorder where a person is unable to laugh, a disorder more specifically known as ‘aphonogelia’.
World Laughter Day: What is it all about?
First celebrated on January 10th, 1998 in Mumbai, Maharashtra, arranged by Dr. Madan Kataria who is also the founder of the laughter yoga movement worldwide. Now, World Laughter Day is celebrated every first Sunday of May. According to Kataria, laughter is “a very positive and powerful emotion that has all the ingredients required for individuals to change themselves and to change the world in a peaceful and positive way”.
Also Kataria stated that our body cannot differentiate between pretend and genuine forms of laughter. Any kind of laughter produces the same ‘happy chemistry’. He explained this principle to a group and asked them to pretend laughing for one minute.
The results after that were really amazing. After that one minute pretend, the ‘fake’ laughter turned into a ‘true’ laughter. Laughing is contagious. In no time, others followed. In no time, the whole group and surrounding people were laughing. This hearty laughter session lasted for almost ten minutes: Thus the birth of ‘Laughter Yoga’.
Thus, from 10th January, 1998, Laughter Day is celebrated all over the globe. Each year, many people gather around to celebrate this day and laugh to release their stress and get a feeling of well being.
Laughter is being used as a medicine or therapeutic tool for many years. Reason? It is a natural form of medicine. The popularity of laughter day has increased a lot since last few years and now it is celebrated in over 110 countries worldwide.
Laughter Yoga clubs
Dr Kataria started with a mere handful of 5 people and started a laughter club at a public park in his neighbourhood in Mumbai, India. They attracted a lot of bystanders and people crossing nearby. Soon, the group grew to more than 50 people who used to tell funny stories or jokes and used to laugh whole heartedly.
In present day, there are many laughter clubs in all over the world. There are many active participants in those clubs who practice Laughter Yoga: A blend of deep breathing, stretching and laughter exercises cultivating child- like playfulness for their well- being.
Benefits of laughing
It releases endorphins: The body’s natural pain killinghormone, Endorphins help in curing any type of chronic pain and makes us feel good all over. DO you have a headache?
Great time to read some funny pages from your Daily newspaper and feel your pain fading away as you dip down in the sea of laughter.
It makes us feel better if we are angry: Laughing decreases the stress hormones and increases the level of well-being hormones such as endorphins and dopamine.
Ever watched the Indian movie Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.? The lead Doctor in that movie used to laugh whenever he felt angry! SO, what are you waiting for? Take some inspiration from that guy and get working!
It burns calories: You need not hit the gym! Just laugh and you’ll burn a lot of calories.It helps you have an ab workout as whenever you laugh, your muscles present in the stomach expand and contract, just the way you do exercises to tone up your abs.
Want a toned tummy? Laugh your heart out! Fact: Laughing 10-20 minutes can burn up to 40 calories. That’s pretty much!
Protects the heart: To stay protected from various cardiovascular ailments, you got to laugh a lot. As laughingdilates the blood vessels andincreases the blood flow in them, thereby reducing the risk of heart related disorders. It was first discovered by the researchers of University of Maryland Medical Center.
It was theorised by Dr. Michael Miller (From University of Maryland) and Dr. William Fry (University of Stanford), that beta-endorphin like compounds released by the hypothalamus activates the the endothelial surface to release Nitric Oxide or NO, which causes dilation of blood vessels. So, grab some funny tv series, sit on your couch and enjoy your laughter medicine!
It helps us live longer: Scientists have found that people who laugh more live longer. When you have a overall sense of well- being and a positive outlook towards life, you tend to live more than those people who have a negative outlook towards life and laugh less. Thus, Smile, Laugh and make your way to longer living!
Boosts the immune system: Laughing increases the amount of immune cells(T- Cells)and friendly antibodies in our body, over all boosting the immune system and its function.
Next time when you suffer from your seasonal cold or fever, just chuckle a bit or watch your favourite tv series, you’ll start feeling better in no time!
Helps us to relax: What can be better than laughing and feel relaxed for next 50-60 minutes? Yes you read it correct. Laughing for 10 minutes can make you feel relaxed for next 50- 60 minutes. It makes us forget our most of the problems, even if it is for a while.
So, How can I laugh and stay healthy?
Yes, that is a pretty obvious question for people who love to lead a strict life. They don’t like too much of jokes or laughter. But hey, you live once! Laughing doesn’t hurt anything, rather it only makes you feel good. So, for the strict people out there who don’t know how to laugh well, here are some tips:
- Hang out with people having an excellent sense of humor. They spread a lot of positivity, trust me!
- Watch funny rib cracking TV Series, such as F.R.I.E.N.D.S., The Big Bang theory, How I met your mother.
- Read the comic column of your local newspaper of any magazine. They too have many interesting stuffs out there!
So, Keep laughing, Keep spreading joy!