Laughter is contagious. It is a way to create friendships and give everyone the opportunity to be part of something. Recently, I visited the Sierra View Homes Kings Canyon Dining Room during the evening meal. As I encountered the people at each table, I asked for a “good Joke.” I said I was writing an article about humor and its effects on people and I needed some jokes to add to the mix. There were smiles all around and then the person who always has a joke ready responded “You know I have had several good years in my life.” but they were all tires.” It took a moment for that one to sink in but as each person at the table got the meaning of the joke, you could hear the groan and laughter. All of us knew about Goodyear Tires. I thought it was a good joke and repeated it at several tables that evening. Each time we all enjoyed the laughter.
Laughing makes people feel good. Studies show that laughter boosts the immune system and triggers the release of pleasure-inducing neurochemicals in the brain. The brain then releases powerful endorphins, which are morphine-like compounds that reduce pain, increases our sense of well-being and improves the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream.
Laughter helps to create a positive mood. You cannot stay angry while you laugh. Anxiety and tension release giving way to good feelings. Laughter can become a temporary vacation from everyday problems. Your sense of humor is one of the most important tools you have to enhance your mood and support good health.
If you laugh easily and are pleasant natured you will find people will want to be around you. Being able to laugh at yourself adds to your appeal to those around you.
Laughter stimulates memories and improves mental acuity in the population that have a dementia diagnosis. Studies show clowns clowning around with people help improve memory, language and communication. Maybe it is the red nose that enables these folks to reach back in their memories and bring those memories to the present.
Some of us have to work at laughing and some of us laugh easily. I have a few suggestions on how to work on increasing your ability to laugh.
Do you smile often? If you smile easily, you have a good start in a great sense of humor. Smiling is contagious just like laughter and instantly creates a warmth and a feeling of enjoyment. People gravitate towards people who are smiling. Practice smiling at the people you meet. See if they will smile back at you. You might be surprised at how good this makes you feel.
Counting your blessings helps you look on the brighter side of life. I encourage you to write down your blessings and add to the list as you encounter new ones. This activity will keep you from dwelling on what is wrong in your life and encourage you to search for positive things to add to the list.
You can watch movies or TV shows that make you smile. “I Love Lucy” is a TV show that comes to mind. Some people make a hobby of collecting jokes. I found out the resident who is always ready with a joke collects jokes so he is ready to tell a new one. There are humorous books to read and then there documentaries such as the one Carl Reiner hosted. The documentary is titled, “If you are not in the obituary, eat breakfast.” Famous elderly people talk about how humor has kept them heathy and has helped with their longevity. Mel Brooks, 93, and Betty White, 97, are a couple of the people interviewed.
I have noticed if I am in a jovial mood with a ready laugh the people I meet easily and quickly relate to me. It is easy to strike up a conversation and people feel comfortable talking with me. They are ready to share a laugh with me. It seems like everyone is waiting for a smile and/or a laugh.
So, have you heard this one? “An elderly gentleman had serious hearing problems for a number of years. He went to the doctor and the doctor had him fitted for a set of hearing aids. This allowed the gentleman to hear very well. The elderly gentleman came back to see the doctor a month later. The doctor said, ‘Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again.’ The gentleman replied, ‘Oh, I haven’t told my family yet, I just sit around and listen to the conversations. I have changed my will three times!’“
P.S. If you need another emergency dose of good feels, just spend some time scrolling through the Creative Commons image search category “LAUGHTER.” So joyful it’s impossible not to smile!