“Always laugh when you can, it is cheap medicine.”
George Gordon Byron
Laughter is described as a movement of the muscles of the face, particularly of the lips, with an uncharacteristic expression of the eyes, indicating jollity, satisfaction, or ridicule, and is usually joined by a loud and sporadic expulsion of air from the lungs. Most of us know laughter as a positive sensation, and a useful method to overcome our daily stress. However, laughter can also be a powerful antidote to pain and conflict. Nothing works faster or more reliably to bring our minds and bodies into cohesion than laughter. Laughter is important for both our emotional and mental health and it can play a helpful and healing role in school, work, family, and our everyday life. Laughter is strong medicine. It draws people together in ways that stimulate healthy physical and emotional changes in all of us. Laughing is one of the healthiest things that we can do when we’re irritated with stress and negative emotions.
When we smile and laugh, a number of biological changes occur, mostly without us knowingly being aware. Laughter strengthens our immune system, boosts our mood, diminishes pain, and protects us from the damaging effects of stress. Laughter fights stress by increasing blood flow throughout our bodies, boosting our immune systems, and even assists in enabling better breathing. Laughter also alters our dopamine and serotonin activity. Endorphins secreted by laughter can help when we’re uncomfortable or in a depressed mood. Research states that, when we smile, our brains release the neurotransmitter known as dopamine, which has the power to produce feelings of happiness from endorphins, which are the body’s natural feel good chemicals and painkillers. While the release of endorphins is increased, the stress hormone cortisol is reduced. Cortisol is more active when we feel stressed or anxious and contributes to the feelings experienced; by lowering it we can reduce our negative mindsets. Smiling is a natural form of laughter, so once laughter unfolds, our brains respond by releasing nitric oxide, which triggers an anti-inflammatory effect that boosts our immune system. Pretending to smile or laugh works as well as the genuine thing, our brain doesn’t discern between actual or false, it reads our arrangement of facial muscles in the same way. This is the facial feedback hypothesis. The more we encourage our brain to release this chemical the more often we’ll feel happy and relaxed.
Smiling and laughing can have a positive effect on our well-being. As we make the transition from child to adult, we seem to lose practice and neglect how to indulge. As children, we laughed hundreds of times a day, however as adults life tends to be more serious and laughter becomes more erratic. Laughter is a way to cope with difficult moments in our lives and the sometimes-arduous task of dealing with society. It’s a social apparatus that allows us to interconnect through our shared experiences. We’re social beings who use humor for better relationships. When we laugh with one another, a positive connection is created. This union acts as a strong shield against tension, quarrels, and frustration. Humor gets us out of our heads and away from our predicaments. It helps us to forget resentments, judgments, disparagements, and misgivings. At Gourmet Services Inc. we hope that laughter becomes contagious, and we know that it can, if we all just make an effort to introduce and allow it into our lives. Laughter can bring people together in amazing ways. Try it.