THIS NEWLETTER IS ABOUT LAUGHTER

I'M NOT ABOUT TO COME UP WITH A CORNY PUN-BASED-TITLE

SO YOU KNOW WHAT LAUGHTER IS?

Laughter occurs when the same muscles that are used for breathing and talking contract rapidly in response to a stimuli. Everyone has experienced laughter so it is easy to understand on a basic level. However, there are many complexities to laughing that are not typically thought about. For example, Laughter is not just a human characteristic. Primates and even rats have been observed to laugh. Additionally, there are different types of laughter. The first is involuntary laughter, in which the person looses their ability to control their response. In contrast, laughter can also be a more posed laughter social response.(1)

BUT CAN YOU RECOGNIZE A GENUINE BELLY LAUGH?

The video below demonstrates involuntary laughter.
Skype Laughter Chain

AND DO YOU KNOW WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING WHEN YOU LAUGH?

Laughing is a quick bodily response to a stimuli. When someone finds something funny, it shoots an electrical current through the nervous system to the cerebral cortex. From there, several parts of the brain are engaged. The left side of the brain is more analytical and decodes the humor. The right side, being more creative, makes sense of the humor on a more personal level. From there, the limbic releases chemicals that increase mood. And finally, the motor system engages causing all the physical signs that are recognized as laughter. (2)

AND DO YOU KNOW THAT LAUGHTER CAN BE GOOD FOR YOU'RE HEALTH?

It's not just an urban myth that laughter is the best medicine. There are many benefits that are both mental and physical. Laughter has been shown to:



  • reduce certain immunosuppressant stress hormones (benefits immune system)
  • increase the number of beneficial hormones like endorphins (acts a natural painkiller)
  • stimulate the growth of antibody cells (better able to fight illness and infection)
  • provides exercise to various muscle groups
  • increasing the levels of Interferon-gamma in the body (this stimulates the growth of cancer fighting immune cells)
  • reduce blood pressure (which leads to many diseases)
  • increases oxygen flow to the brain (promotes healthy brain function)
  • improve memory (combining learning with the emotional response of humor creates more linkages in the brain that help memory recall)


(2)

AND THAT LAUGHTER CAN GET YOU HIGH?

Dr. Matt Bellace is a comedian and a clinical neuropsychologist. With his unique understanding of humor and the brain, he teaches people about the natural high of laughter. Yes, that is correct, humor causes a natural high. This is because both laughing and making other's laugh activates the reward center of the brain. The activation causes the brain to release dopamine, a the same chemical released when people do cocaine. Of course the high will not be as intense but there are definite advantages. Unlike a drug induced high, natural highs do not force the brain to release dopamine. This is important because the forced production of dopamine can inhibits the bodies natural regulation abilities. This is why drug users become reliant on their drug of choice in order to be happy. So while laughter may not get one turnt for a party, it is a definite means to improving mood for cheap. (4)

DOMPAMINE PATHWAYS

Dompamine's release into the brain activates the feelings of pleasure and reward.
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AND THAT LAUGHTER THERAPY MIGHT HELP CANCER PATIENTS?

It is important to recognize that laughter alone cannot cure all of one's health issues. Still, the collection of growing evidences supports the idea that laughter has a lot of potential benefits in various realms of health. This has lead laughter to be implemented as a supplement to various cancer treatments. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), explains "laughter therapy" to be conducive to overall health and effective relief for both emotional and physical discomfort. Such emotional benefits are especially helpful for those fighting daunting illnesses. Recognizing the potential, the CTCA has started implementing humor groups. During sessions, laughter is treated as a physical exercise. Participants are instructed to make "ha ha" and "he he" noises, while holding their cheek bones and feeling the vibrations. This often results in a string of contagious laughter. Many patients have reported leaving group feeling relieved. (5)

LAUGHTER AS AN EXERCISE?

Just the physical process of laughing alone can improve mood.
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NOT ALL HUMOR IS CREATED EQUAL

(5) So it is safe to say that a good laugh can surprisingly beneficial. But is there such a thing has a bad laugh? Unfortantly, humor can easily become a detriment. Consider:

Hate-Me Humor:

This is when one continually use themselves as the butt of their own jokes. While this type of humor can be amusing, people who continually do this start to damage their self respect.

Put-Down Humor:

This is demonstrated when people use other people as the butt of their jokes. Put-Down humor can be fun and clever but it also has the potential to damage relationships if overused. It also creates a general sense of negativity.

LAUGH A LITTLE, LIVE A LITTLE

Though this all seems very straightforward, it embodies something more complex. Laughing is something that happens naturally but maybe it deserves a bit more thought. There are endless benefits to laughter that cannot be realized unless people mindfully embrace the laughing, playful side of themselves.


Take this quiz and see if you learn anything about your humor